Today was our last full day in country before we set out on our journey home. Our medical clinic is done for this trip and was an excellent learning experience for all of us, and seemed to be well-received by the communities we were serving. Our team members from Alabama consisted of 2 nurse practitioners, one RN, several firefighters with EMT and disaster response experience, a nursing student, and many non-medical people who helped support the medical clinic in various ways throughout the week. Our ladies team was mentioned in my post yesterday.
Given the size of this group, we split up today and went in different directions. I went with the ladies team, and we travelled all around with the primary goal of visiting some very special children. Some of the ladies on our team have sponsored children in the area, and one of the most exciting things on this trip for them was to go and see those children!
We headed out first to Corail, which is one of the largest post-earthquake communities outside of Port-au-Prince. The roads heading into Corail are much more passable by motorcycle than they are by the Post-Apocalyptic School Bus, so the ride was
terrifying interesting. One of our IMF employees calls Corail home, and he told us that when it rains, the roads flood and he has to get off his moto, roll up his pants, and take off his shoes to walk home through the flooded streets.
We met the little girl and her mother at the school she attends. The school coordinator was so welcoming to our group and spoke excellent English. We were told she previously worked at the palace as an officer. She works with 5 dedicated teachers, and together they educate 80 children from preschool up to 2nd grade. Here is a picture of one of the classrooms:
One of the very fun things we have been able to do (yesterday and today) is to go and visit some places that are committed to empowering the Haitian people through education, job training, and job creation.
Let me introduce you to Jolina. Doesn’t her smile make you want to smile?
Jolina is the director of sales at Deux Mains Designs, which is the for-profit enterprise of REBUILD globally, a non-profit organization in Haiti that exists to break the cycle of poverty by offering job training, education, and dignified living wages for its workers. It was founded shortly after the earthquake of 2010. Jolina was their first employee! She spoke to us while we were there about what it has meant to her to have a job that not only allows her to provide for her family, but has also allowed her to buy property and start her own business on the side. She is a phenomenal, strong woman.
All of the items at Deux Mains are completely drool-worthy. They use recycled tires to make the most beautiful shoes, sandals and bags. All of the materials–from the tires to the glue to the thread–are sourced in Haiti, and the workers are paid a fair living wage with opportunities for education and promotion to help lift them out of the cycle of poverty. REBUILD also works with refugees at the Haiti-Dominican border offering job training and income opportunities. You can shop online for their products if you like them. They have a warehouse that ships out of Miami, but rest assured that all of their items are ethically and lovingly handmade in Haiti. I can attest that their flip-flops are both super comfortable and beautiful, and since I bought them on my trip last year they have become one of my favorite summer wardrobe staples. They run true to size. Our group of women collectively spent about $1000 at Deux Mains, and Jolina started dancing! She told us that the money we spent would pay for approximately 3 weeks of salaries for their employees!
We also had the opportunity to visit Papillon, another socially conscious business created to stimulate the Haitian economy by providing job training, employment and support for Haitians.
One of their goals in doing this is to specifically provide employment and educational opportunities for Haitian parents so that they can support their children and not have to abandon them to orphanages because of extreme poverty. I did not get to visit Papillon on my last trip, and I loved it! They have beautiful, hand-crafted jewelry, t-shirts, bags, home decor, pottery, and much more, all made on-site. We were given a tour, and we got to see where all the magic happened.
Someone please tell my husband he can’t get mad at me for shopping. I supported the Haitian economy a lot while I was here. I was just doing my part to make the world a better place!
Our final stop today was back to the village of Chambon to visit another one of our ladies’ sponsored children. He was waiting for us on the side of the road with his mom, where we make the turn off the main highway onto the rocky road leading to the village. He sprinted to the bus and excitedly ran toward us, waving and smiling, as Martha launched herself down the stairs of the PASB to embrace him. It was so precious to get to witness this interaction. This is the second time Martha has been able to come visit him and his mom. They climbed in the bus and we drove down the the river, where we played and splashed with the kids of the village for awhile.
We said our goodbyes and headed back for the night. We spent some time after dinner organizing all of the leftover medical supplies to be placed into storage for future trips.
Tomorrow we travel again. I need to be pressure-washed and soaked. Can’t wait to see my crew!