Monday, July 23, 2012

Taking My Knowledge to the Extremes!

From June 4 through June 25, I set out on another Haiti adventure. The first week of my trip, I led my first mission team on an unforgettable experience to Haiti. All 11 team members were young adults between the ages of 20 and 30 years old... all with such giving and open hearts. It was such a unique experience to be able to share third world poverty with people my age.. people I have grown up with, people I have worked with, and people I had just met. Even though I had been designated the leader of the team, I felt as though each member on my team helped challenge me to become a stronger leader, friend, and member of our global community. Each person brought forth their gifts, talents, and expertise that helped me to see more clearly the beauty of community... and how the value of positive and supportive relationships can aid in creating a more just world. Each team member served and led the team in ways I had not anticipated... offering up ways that we can have an impact on the world, challenging each other "to go deeper", and encouraging each other not to become complacent upon the return home from this encounter with 3rd world poverty.
My beautiful team! 

Bringing clean, free water to the people of Cite Soleil

The slums of Cite Soleil

Playing with the kids at Gertrude's orphanage for special needs and handicapped kids.  

We took a few hours out of our week of service to see the hope and potential for Haiti!! 

Most of the team came as strangers, but all left as friends!!
After this wonderful week of cultivating new relationships and sharpening my leadership skills, I said goodbye to my team at the airport and headed up to Grace Village Orphanage in Titanyen to use my nutrition skills to strengthen and support the children sponsored by Healing Haiti. Grace Village is currently the home to 62 children between the ages of 20 months and 17 years old. Within the walls of the community, there is a boys dormitory, a girls dormitory, a feeding center (my "office"), and the largest playground in Haiti. The village is currently in the process of building a talapia farm and a school, but also has plans to build a church, a soccer field, and a medical facility. While Grace Village remains a gated community within the town of Titanyen, it opens its doors to the people within the surrounding community during worship hours (specifically Sunday morning and weekly evenings). Many of the children, in their best worship clothes, run up the hill to the village to join our orphans and delight in the service facilitated by our Haitian Pastor. Following the Sunday worship, the kids are all given a small loaf of bread with butter (or peanut butter) and allowed to play on the playground. As Grace Village continues to expand and grow, it will continue to serve the community of Titanyen in many more beautiful ways beyond worship and play.

Grace Village Orphanage 

The kids' at their morning activities!!

My trip to Grace Village was originally planned to be a one week trip in which I would obtain follow-up nutrition assessments on all of the children, preform a 3-day diet analysis at the Feeding Center, and make recommendations to enhance the meals served by the Haitian staff. Several days before my departure from Haiti, I decided that the week had not been enough. I did not feel confident leaving knowing that there was still a lot of work left to be done. I contacted my mom in the U.S. and had her help me adjust my airfare in order to spend an unexpected, extra week in Haiti. It was a long, stressful two weeks at Grace Village.... being challenged in ways I had not expected. 

For more about my remaining two weeks in Haiti check out my nutrition blog: