Hearing the rooster crow was such an unusual sound for a Chicago girl. I woke up to the beautiful sunshine, feeling surprisingly rested after a long day of travel. I was very eager to start the day with my awesome team. “Breakfast is at 8 AM. Be ready to leave for Cite Soleil after eating,” said Cathy Jones. I prepared for a day of many detours and potentially unplanned activities. I got excited for the busy day ahead. We planned to visit a school in Cite Soleil, the skilled artisans of the Metal Works community, and the non-profit Apparent Project. We were all excited to get to see the Port-au-Prince that’s not shown on mainstream news. We piled into two vans and headed on our way. “The roads in Haiti have potholes just as big as Chicago,” I excitedly exclaimed. I realized driving in Haiti wasn’t like driving in the USA. There are huge pot holes, lack of asphalt, no visible lanes, no traffic lights, and lots of pedestrians. People either walk, ride motorcycles, or take “tap-tap” which are colorful trucks. Think of vibrant Uber rides. Port-au-Prince was an overload of sights, sounds, and smells. It was wildly different, yet also oddly familiar. We arrived at the school and passed through their big front gates. The property was comprised of two buildings, a large one and a smaller one. We were introduced to Anacias Joseph, one of the leaders of the school. He gave us a tour of the smaller building which will be used to accommodate a traveling doctor for the students. The other room in the smaller building will be used to educate older adults on computer literacy. “We just need some computers and someone to teach us how to use the computers,” Anacias said. To me it seemed like a difficult a task, but Anacias seemed unphased. He did get these two buildings built and got these kids a stable place for an education after all.
Inside the bigger building we heard the kids participate in their lessons for the day. The large room was separated into four different sections with low walls that accommodated four different classes and teachers. It was very loud. I don’t know how the students heard their teachers! With permission from Anacias, we handed out snacks as gifts and ended up taking pictures with the students. They were so excited to receive these treats! Their manners were outstanding and they were so proud of their school.
After spending recess with the kids, we piled back in the vans and then headed to Metal Works. Metal Works was a community of Haitian artisans that make fabulous artworks from recycled oil drums. It was fun to be able to look at their beautiful artwork. Our local fixer, John, told us that the merchants love to haggle. “I think I bought too much stuff,” Michael Lumunsad exclaimed as he carried a bunch of art to the van. Many of us left with fabulous pieces, and more importantly, wonderful stories to tell.
We next traveled to the Apparent Project. The Apparent Project was a non-profit group that provided employment and training to parents, especially single moms, who were struggling to take care of their family. By employing locals, the Apparent Project provided Haitians a living wage where they lessened the risk of giving up their children to adoption. They made beautiful handmade jewelry out of used cereal boxes, clay, and recycled glass. They also had a day care attached to their building where parents would bring their children while they worked. Our team was able to take a tour of the workshops to see how all the jewelry and pottery were made. Michael left with a bunch more stuff.
On our way back to New Life For Children guesthouse, I had more appreciation for life. As we were in the van, I looked out the window and saw these beautiful flowers. I couldn’t help but think the flowers were like the Haitian people. Beautiful, vibrant, and full of life! I can’t wait until the sun comes up and start the new day. – Haley B. Kurzawa
Read about the previous Hear Haiti trips here, and don’t forget to follow our journey here on Open Ears and on social media: Instagram: @HTW_Foundation Facebook: Facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld Twitter: @hear_the_world