What a beautiful day in Haiti... it was our first day seeing the orphans in their new home, Grace Village. It is unbelievable just HOW MUCH work has been COMPLETED in the past 6 months!! The new home for their kids in UNBELIEVABLE. Their lives have changed drastically. According to the team that moved the kids into Grace Village, many of them had never taken a shower before in their life. The team had to teach them how to shower... Their bathrooms actually had a real toilet and running water. Their bedrooms were colorful and had blankets.. sheets.. pillows.. mattress pads. Their kitchen had a stove, an oven, and was actually CLEAN. Their feeding center was spotless and read for serving and gathering. I just can not even fathom the exhilaration and the emotional impact this has on the kids... from rags to riches.. from absolute poverty to paradise. Forty orphans (and many more to come...) will now be able to grow up in an environment that is clean and nurturing, which will also help them to become healthy and strong.
Upon arriving at the orphanage, many of the kids started calling my name out, "kristina!" they would shout and smile as I waved at the children shouting my name. A sense of joy filled up inside me.. they didn't forget me from this summer. Instantly one of the little girls clung to me. I held her for hours as we walked around touring the orphanage. While touring the girls dormitory, several of the girls came over to me.. hugged me.. saying my name and holding my hand. It was such a beautiful moment...
We spent the day playing with the orphans and seeing them in their new home. Fanfan (our former translator) is now the spiritual director for the kids and lead them in a gospel melody. Several of the songs were ones Fanfan and I would sing in the taptap (our Haitian taxi) or at the Home for Sick and Dying Babies this summer... as the choir of the children filled the air around me, I couldn't help but close my eyes and lift my head up to the sky in praise. As much as I was going to miss Fanfan being with the mission groups everyday (Fanfan had become one of my really good friends while I was down here this past summer), I knew God has placed him exactly were he is meant to be and doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing. It was an unbelievable moment listening to the kids sing to some of Fanfan's favorite Michael W. Smith songs.. it even brought a huge smile to my face when one of the little orphans busted out the solo they have been working on. This little guy singing Michael W. Smith gospel songs at the top of his little lungs... it reminded me of the scene in Sister Act 2 when the boy busts out his solo.
After spending some time with the kids, I started a little of the nutrition work I had planned to accomplish while I am down here. I started in the most basic place possible... the kitchen and food storage room. I toured the storage room and wrote notes of what was on the shelves. Then I toured the way around the kitchen to see what the ladies were preparing for the kids for lunch.... rice, beans, chicken, some sort of vegetable looking herb, and a juice made from a fruit that is a cross between a grapefruit and an orange. I spoke with Junior (our taptap driver/ translator) and He helped me to get a "general" diet intake of the kids at the orphanage. He asked the ladies cooking the questions I had and helped me to communicate with them. I left the feeding center that day feeling a little bit uneasy and uncertain about where to start with the kids' diets... so many of them underweight and stunted, and knowing their is a limited budget for food costs.... feeding the masses and trying to meet individuals' needs is going to be difficult.
Upon returning home to the mission home, I realized I had my work cut-out for me on this trip. I started organizing my assessment sheets and growth charts. Tomorrow will be the day I get to collect heights, weights, and complete the physical examination of the kids.. It's really interesting already seeing where these kids are falling on the WHO (world Health Organization) charts, and I am excited to watch their growth, nutrition, and overall health progress as they continue to live in a clean and sanitary living environment and have access to higher quality food.