Everything is Hard in Haiti.
It seems like everything in Haiti is more difficult than it should be. And this trip is no exception. Friday morning we went to the port to finish repacking the container. We decided to get a jump on distribution by packing some of the items in our dump truck so we could start delivering while we waited for the container to be delivered. Here is a picture of our container being lifted off of a stack so we could finish.
It is an amazing thing to watch a 60,000 lbs. container being pickup and moved around like a tinker toy.
Our first deliver was 300 empty five gallon buckets that were donated to us by ER Systems. These buckets are used by Haitians to retrieve water for their families. They will be handed out by Father Rick from St. Damien's Children's Hospital in Tebarre.
Also in the truck for the hospital were medical supplies and stuffed animals for the children. Each of the workers asked if they could have a stuffed animal. It was amazing to see fully grown men, cling and hold their stuffed animals. Dave said "It just touched my very heart that grown men would cherish these toys... it almost brought tears to my eyes." We wondered if they ever had one when they were small. How can it be that we have so much and they have so little?
Our second stop was to Bobby Duval's Soccer Program in Cite Soleil. Bobby has a heart moving testimony. He was a professional soccer player for the Haitian National Team before being imprisoned for two years by the Duvalier's, ruthless dictators of Haiti in the 70's and 80's. He saw 180 people executed while in prison and had one die in his arms. Twelve days before his own execution, Jimmy Carter intervened and successfully obtained his release along with 12 others. Here is a picture of Dave and Bobby together.
During the worst violence in Cite Soleil, Bobby started a soccer program in Cite Soleil to give the children something to do instead of becoming a gang member. He taught them soccer, fed them and gave them mentoring and a safe haven from the streets. He now has several hundred children come to his soccer field every week.
We delivered water buckets and boxes of used school books that he will use to teach the children.
We also delivered food donated by Feed My Starving Children. It is wonderful to see someone who cares so much for the children of Haiti as does Bobby Duval.
A Painful Contribution
Everything in Haiti is hard including heavy lifting in a 100+ degree container three days in a row. During all the moving and lifting and loading of tens of thousands of pounds, Dave's back went out. Haiti is not the place to have a bad back (I'm speaking from experience). Here is a picture of Dave and our friend Fanfan hiking back to the hotel after a hard day's work and a bumpy Tap Tap ride... (can you feel his pain?).
To make matters worse, we received a call from Jean, our director that the container was not being released and we were to come down to port immediately. By the time we arrived, the problem was taken care of and were promised a Saturday morning delivery.
What is the worst that could happen?
Saturday we patiently waited with anticipation for the phone call telling us our container had been delivered. Little did we know what call we would receive. The phone rang and Kevin said "The container chassis just collapsed, knocked over Bobby's wall! Take a TapTap down here as soon as possible". I thought to myself, "sometimes doing God's work for the poor is really difficult"... this was one of those times. Here is a few pictures of our newly delivered container.
The load of 60,000+ lbs was too much for the ground under the right front leg of the trailer. The leg sunk into the ground two feet taking the container with it.
For the next few hours, we talked about many different options for securing and leveling the container but came up with none. Several small tow trucks heard about our dilemma and showed up willing to hook up and pull it straight but none of the ideas made any sense. We were now resigned to emptying the container on an angle. We didn't have time to wait for a crane... especially one that could pickup 60,000 pounds.
Believe it or not, there is life after your trailer collapses. It's what Dave calls "Plan B". We are so thankful and thank God that through this all, no one was hurt, nothing damaged except for the wall. While things are difficult in Haiti, it could have been much worse... and this was our blessing for the day.
We carefully opened the back doors on our container and pulled out buckets to load in our dump truck. It adds a certain amount of extra work and uncertainty working at an angle.
BioSand Water Filters
Our next delivery was to an organization that builds water filters for the poor of Cite Soleil. Charles Adams, a contractor from Queensbury, NY is working to provide clean water to the poorest of the poor by building concrete biosand water filters that filter bacteria and parasites form dirty water making it drinkable.
Last year, armed men grabbed Charles from his car near the Port-au-Prince airport. The gunmen took him to a house in the slum of Cite Soleil, near the international airport, where other kidnapping victims were being held. Adams was released within 24 hours, apparently without having paid the $500,000 demanded from his captors. The kidnappers reportedly told Adams that kidnap-for-ransom is their only means of support. The FBI, now says Haiti has surpassed Colombia as the riskiest country in the Americas for kidnapping.
Each one of our buckets will accompany a water filter for a family in Cite Soleil. We are grateful to ER Systems for their generous support.
Terra Promise Ecole
Elder Morland, Director of Terra Promise School in Cite Soleil, a school we fund, brought a taptap to pickup his food and buckets. To save room in the container, we packed 1000 buckets full of Feed My Starving Children meals. He was so happy to receive both food and buckets and thanks God for the support of our donors. We tell him, all the glory is God's... we are only blessed with the opportunity to do His work.
I asked Dave if he wanted to go to church or deliver buckets. He said "We're here to serve God, I think that's the best Sunday service we can go to." So Sunday morning, bright and early we started to pack 280 five gallon pails of food for Titanyen.
Because Dave's back was out, we hired some of the street kids that we send to school to come and help with the buckets. They were very hard workers.
It was like a plan made in heaven. We estimated how many buckets we needed in Titanyen and when fully loaded, had zero room for even one more bucket... God is Good.
Titanyen is where we are building Grace Village, a place where God's loving Grace can touch the people of Haiti. It is also the village where our orphanage and eldercare programs are.
Our first stop was at our orphanage to visit with the children and drop needed food. Food in Haiti has doubled in price since the first of the year making it very difficult for many Haitians to care for their families. Here Dave meets the children of the orphanage for the first time.
Here is a photo of the children celebrating the arrival of food and buckets.
Here is a photo of the children holding signs made by the children who packed the food at Feed My Starving Children back in Minnesota. These cardboard signs were on the tops of each skid of food. They contained, greetings, prayers, blessings and pictures for the Haitian children. We brought them along to let the orphan children know that children in Minnesota care about them. It's such a blessing to be the conduit for this.
In between deliveries, we stopped at the site of Grace Village, 16 acres of land on the outskirts of Titanyen, future home for the orphanage, eldercare and feeding programs.
When Dave first got out of the truck on the top of the land he said "This is just a perfect picture of God's beautiful artwork". Again... we are so blessed.
A difficult job...
Like being on the water truck, we knew going in that we did not have enough food for everyone. That's what makes this part of our job bitter sweet. It is a blessing to be able to hand out food to those in need but there just is not enough.
Most of the roads in Titnayen are too narrow for the dump truck so we off loaded buckets into the back of our pickup truck. Word spread fast and very soon we were surrounded by people desperately seeking food.
The anguish on some of the faces was heartbreaking...
A time for babies...
In between the chaos, Dave and I stole some badly needed hugs and kisses from the children. We needed them as much as they did.
Desperation as an Emotion.
These final photos are of some of the food distribution from the dump truck. It is completely incomprehensible to understand the feelings you have when you experience the utter desperation in Haiti. We are so blessed to be able to just go to the corner store, stocked with any and everything we can imagine. I cannot explain the feelings but only wish everyone, once in their life could experience it. It would truly change your life forever!
When all the food is gone...
When all the food is gone, all we can do is drive away. The children continue to chase us hoping we will stop again and start distributing food again... please Lord, heal Haiti.
Blessings from Haiti...
Jeff & Dave