On this late Saturday evening driving to LAX, I wonder to myself, “Am I ready for this trip?” I visualize the things that I am supposed to pack for the Hear the World volunteering mission trip to Haiti. I look at my crumpled checklist while having this bad feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I hate being unprepared. Did I miss something from the emails sent to me by Hear Haiti leader, Cathy Jones? I hope not. My mind wanders as the freeway lights pass overhead. I’ve read so many news articles about what’s gone wrong in the country. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Thousands dead and millions displaced. Political instability. Zika virus. Haiti in crisis. What can a group of American and Canadian volunteers do to help the people of Haiti? It seems too gigantic of a task. Cathy, Mohamed Khaldi, Reece Radford, and I take the red eye from LAX to Miami to meet up with the remaining Hear Haiti team. Every person on this trip represents one of the Sonova Group companies. Advanced Bionics, Phonak, Unitron, and Connect Hearing. A handful of members have been to Haiti before, but for the majority of us, this is the first time on a Hear the World humanitarian trip. Team members start to arrive at gate D-25 at the Miami International Airport from their respective connecting flights. We’re all very excited to meet each other. We exchange pleasantries, take group pictures, and talk about this new adventure that we’re taking together. Members’ obvious fatigue from early flights gives way to excitement as we prepare for the tasks ahead of us.
“I can’t wait to meet the kids,” one volunteer says excitedly. Another “hopes we don’t have a lot of mosquitoes” during our stay. So we all start putting mosquito repellent while at the waiting area. In between the small talk, I wonder if I brought enough socks for my stay. I would hate to have reuse dirty socks. Finally, we get on the plane destined to Port-au-Prince. “Welcome to Haiti,” says the immigration officer. The trip from Miami to Port-au-Prince was routine, but it really sunk in that we weren’t in the USA anymore when everyone outside the airport was speaking Haitian Creole, the language of Haiti. Getting to our van and truck was an experience in itself with so many people trying to help us move our piles of luggage. Thankfully our guides, Frank, Zoe, and John, took charge and made sure we got on the colorful truck without any problems.
From the airport we head to the New Life For Children’s guesthouse. New Life 4 Kids has a children’s home that provides shelter and medical services to about 130 children. Most of the kids living here are orphaned, abandoned, or have special needs and medical issues.
What the volunteers do here is incredible and wonderful. Despite my initial reservations, something is definitely going right in Haiti. The laughter of children fills the air. It’s heartwarming for several of my team members as a few kids come over to hug our volunteers. On our first day as a team together, we’ve made some new friends.
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