My May 2016 Trip: Part 1

 A kid in a village just outside of Port-au-Prince

A kid in a village just outside of Port-au-Prince

It’s been a week since I’ve returned from Haiti and I’ve had a little time to process the events of the trip. I’m attempting to describe 10 days in Haiti with enough detail that you can get a glimpse into what happened — and the direction I’m taking — without making it too long of a story. So, you won’t want to miss these next few days of posts! Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. Here we go with today’s installment! 

I wanted to go back to Haiti since my last visit in November of 2015.  But it seemed that nothing was working out. I contacted my friend Larry (he travels to Haiti a lot). He was planning a trip in May! It was during the same timeframe I was planning on!

So, we made plans to travel together. Larry’s friend, Jayme, was also going to go with us. We each had our own agenda for the trip with a common goal of serving the people of Haiti. 

Larry made his first trip to Haiti in 1973 as a child. Larry’s family is close friends with my family and for all my life I’ve been hearing about the stories of their family serving in Haiti. In fact, I believe his stories helped ignite a desire in me to serve in Haiti. It was truly a privilege to finally get to Haiti with a member of the Osborne family.

Thursday, May 5

We arrived in Port-au-Prince (PAP) and it was hot, dusty, noisy, and the traffic was crazy. But it felt great to be back in Haiti!  

First stop, Friends Of Haiti Organization (FOHO) — it’s where we’d find lodging during our trip. FOHO shares property with one of the Free Methodist Churches in PAP (FOHO has purchased a larger piece of property on the outskirts of town — more on that in a moment). This was my first experience with the organization.   

Friday, May 6

Our first full day in Haiti. We went to an organization called Deux Mains.

Duex Mains — an organization Jayme’s partnered with to make shoes for schoolchildren in LaFond — is an 100%-Haitian employee-owned-and-operated footwear and fashion company in Port-au-Prince. 

They make the neatest shoes! (Check out their website)

 These are some of the shoes Deux Mains makes. Deux Mains is supported by an organization called Rebuild Globally.

These are some of the shoes Deux Mains makes. Deux Mains is supported by an organization called Rebuild Globally.

The soles are crafted from car tires. The insides are made of goat leather. The outside canvas-like material is made from recycled plastic bottles. Instead of people sending shoes to Haiti from the U.S., it’s the hope of the organization to create awareness about the opportunities for others to purchase shoes directly from a Haitian company — helping Haiti create a sustainable economy. (We made plans to head to LaFond the next day and deliver 40 pairs of shoes from Deux Mains.) 

We visited the new FOHO property and Larry shared the vision for it. When you buy property in Haiti, the first important task you undertake is to secure the new investment by building a big wall around it.

Saturday, May 7

We woke to a heavy rain. It didn’t take long to learn our plans of going up the mountain to LaFond were not going to happen (we’d have to postpone our delivery of the 40 pairs of shoes). Some of the roads were washed out or under water. Later on, I would better understand how much that would impact the trip.  

So, Saturday was pretty much a wash. Literally! 

We wanted to head to the Providence University of Haiti. But, while on our way, we quickly learned the road to the school had washed out as well. 

So, instead of traveling that day, we invited several Haitians over to our apartment in the afternoon. We had a great time (we made sloppy joes for dinner). None of the them knew what sloppy joes were — but they were a big hit! There were no leftovers!

Sunday, May 8 

We woke to a bright and sunny day, despite the weather forecast calling for rain (rain we definitely didn't need). We walked to the nearby Free Methodist Church to attend a worship service, but the service was in Creole and I couldn’t understand most of it. After a bit, we headed to Quisqueya Chapel. It’s a church where many Americans attend — and it’s all in English. While there, I ran into Sherri — a woman who runs Christian Light School. It was nice to see her because I’ve worked at her school during several of my trips to Haiti.  

After church we headed a little past the outskirts of PAP where Larry needed to deliver some things he brought from home for some friends. 

In all my trips to the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), I have never been to the beach! I was really hoping today’s schedule would allow for it … 

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WIll I make it to the beach? 

What happens on my way up the mountain on Monday?

Answers to these questions and more coming soon!  Tune in next time for Part II of the recap of my May 2016 Haiti trip!

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—Kelby