Monday, July 29, 2013

June 2013: Young Adult Mission Team

This is a long overdue blog about my last 4 week trip to Haiti (June 17- July 15). Each week will be it's own blog since I had some pretty incredible experiences over the course of my time in Haiti.

 So here goes a summary of week one.
Pictures are one of my favorite ways of telling the story, so don't be alarmed by the number of photos.

June 17- June 24:

My first week in Haiti, I lead another young adult mission team through Healing Haiti. Prior to the week, the thought of leading a short term mission trip was very difficult for me, especially after having had the experience of living and knowing Haiti on a much different level than a one week trip. I was a little nervous about leading the team and ruining their experience as either first timers or second timers to Haiti. To my surprise, the week ended up way better than I had ever imagined. We did a lot of new things that I haven't done before and all of the team members dove deep into their experiences. They asked serious questions about mission work, poverty, culture, and the world. It was a very insightful group... that wanted to discuss issues of why poverty exists, cultural differences, and the impacts that we can have on reducing poverty and oppression in our world. Weeks following the trip, the team updated each other about what they were working on changing in their lives to help create a healthier and more just world. Many of the efforts were related to consumption-- reducing their consumption of wastes (energy wastes, material wastes, water wastes), consumption of foods that impact the environment, buying fair trade food and clothing, and becoming educated about more worldly problems. The things that the team became aware of and a lot of our discussions came back to the fact that Americans consume much of the world's resources-- and often times at the expense of others. We discussed every thing from fast fashion to factory farms to the environmental toxins we put into the landfills and water streams due to our cosmetics and hygiene products. If your interested in learning more about these, here are a few useful resources:

If the world consumed as many resources as Americans, we would need 4 more planets!

Environmental Work Group (food and products):

Food Empowerment Project (responsible food):

Sol Inspiration (responsible fashion):

Day One: Travel Day! Haiti bound!

Some of the team members on our first day into Haiti!

Day Two: we took a group of children from Gerturdes (an orphanage for children with disabilities) to water therapy.

Off to our first activity! 

The children loved the ability to move in the water!! 

After water therapy a few of us ventured to a soccer field to play soccer with a few of the neighborhood boys!

The team was WAY too good at soccer,... beyond my ability. So we decided to run the field! 
Day Three: Delivered water to people in Cite Soleil, Haiti.

It's Water time kiddos!!! 
Washing out her bucket before filling it up!

My little buddy that I met two years ago in Cite Soleil! Haven't seen him in forever! He is turning into a young man! 

Hanging out with the animals at the water truck stop! 

Day Four: We toured Grace Village-- the place I called home for the past year! Following our tour, we took a visit to the elderly in the community. The team also took a trip to Wahoo Bay to enjoy the beautiful beaches and oceans along Haiti's coast! 

Touring Grace Village! 

Visiting the elderly! We brought them peanut butter sandwiches and bananas!

We had a few really interesting conversations with the elderly! 

My beautiful co-leader!

Just being goofy before hitting the waves!

I love the beach!!!

Day Five: Back to Cite Soleil to deliver more water! 
Water stop!

I guess I like to have a little fun with the kiddos! 
And while in Cite Soliel, I couldn't help but notice some beautiful things being sold.... plant food!
green onions and potatoes

Look at all those green leafy vegetables! Cabbage and Carrots! 

Fresh Mangos!


Fresh coconuts!

(one of my favorite snacks)-- Popcorn!!! 


Even in Haiti's poorest slum, you can find a nice balanced and variety of food. Carbohydrates (potatoes, vegetables, fruits),  proteins (peanuts, vegetables), fat (peanuts, coconut). So it's not quiet the food desert you would think! Healthy Food IS AVAILABLE HERE. You just have to keep your eyes open for it!
A man in Cite Soleil even pointed out the Moringa tree to me when we were talking about nutrition! 

A recycling project in the heart of Cite Soleil! Love it!

Following our trip to Cite Soleil, we had the opportunity to visit the general hospital in downtown PAP. It was a very different experience than I have ever had before in Haiti. We interacted with some of the children and the elderly at the hospital. We talked with a few of the parents that were there caring for their children. The hospital is known for being one of the only hospitals that remained standing during the 2010 Earthquake..... just imagining the devastation and the heartbreak of what the hospital looked like that day was unbearable.  

 Day Six: Grace village! Our team went to Grace Village and did stations with the kiddos at the orphanage. We set the day up to be like an Expo Fair where the kids could learn a few different things! We had a solar activity, a fitness activity, a hemoglobin test, and musical lessons. The hemoglobin test was apart of a research project for a student and for my nutritional work at Grace. We were surprised by the number of children who were willing to participate! Following our day at Grace Village we hit up some of Haiti's finest metal artists and then had some of the children from the orphanage over to the guesthouse for dinner! What a treat for them!

Hemoglobin Testers!

I had my hemoglobin tested too. 13.4 g/dL (Normal for woman is 12-15.5 g/mL).  Looks like this vegan has a stellar hemoglobin! 
A homemade solar oven! 
Racing Solar Cars!

Teaching the children about solar energy! 

Yoga with the kiddos!
Picking Moringa! I made my team try it! 


All the younger children joined the teams for Taco night at the guesthouse!

My good friend skye came down from Grace Village to join us for dinner! Skye is a LTM with Healing Haiti. We use to be roommates!! It was so great to see her and catch-up!!

Day Seven: We went to church at Grace Village and then shopped for artwork in Haiti. We also brought some of the neighbor boys out for another round of soccer! They loved it!

Church at Grace Village!

On our shopping trip, we ran into a car race in the middle of PAP! Awesome to see some community activities! 


On Monday (day 8) the team left back home to the United States, except for my team member Kayleen who was just starting her long term missionary work in Haiti. The two of us hung out for a bit to talk about mission work, nutrition, health, and transitional living. I am excited about the work she will be engaging in at Grace Village. Following our conversation, Kayleen headed to Grace Village and I stayed in PAP for another week to attend to other business!! 

To be continued. 

Might I also add that my team members ROCK! We just had a reunion party last night and it ended-up being an entirely vegetarian meal!! It was potluck style and this was the order from me:

1. fruit 
2. veggies 
3. grain 
4. protein
5. dessert
6. beverages 

And this is what we get.....
A great group of friends! 

Homemade bruschetta with sweet potato chips

"Pitimi" (sorghum in English) all the way from Haiti!! I made this one with coconut milk, bananas, mangos, and fresh mint leaves!

"Pitimi" and black beans with lightly sauteed kale, carrots, and onions. Topped with lemon juice, fresh basil, and olive oil.

Grilled veggie and fruit kabobs! No meat here! One of my friends soaked the fruit in Haitian rum and then grilled it... awesome! 

Fresh Summer fruit mix! 

Vegan Rhubarb pie! Complements to the chef for keeping out the animal products! 

Our fancy Healing Haiti cake! 

Need a new refreshing summer drink? Try soaking cucumber, kiwi, and lemon (or use a dash of 100% lemon juice)  in your water. Add mint leaves and chia seeds if you want to get fancy!

Now are you hungry!? 

1 comment:

  1. I only catch little snippets here and there, but it is so nice to read about your [amazing] adventures and the work you are doing in Haiti! If some day I find myself able to swing a trip and volunteer for a week or so, I would absolutely love to. Not sure if you're there now, or back in MN, but maybe I'll catch you eventually at one of these Millerfests! :)

    Your cousin [or something like it],