Port au Prince

Port au Prince
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40:2

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boy's Mural Finished!

Today we finished the mural in the boy's room. Yesterday we had many boys, a few Park Street team members, and one house mom working on it. It was so fun to see every one so focused on making it perfect. They were neat and put a lot of effort into keeping the paint inside the lines. Today a few of the older boys and I worked on doing the second coats because some of the colors didn't go on free of streaks. Once we finished painting the colors we went over the outlines in black paint. At first we were worried that the black paint would ruin it. We had already put so much time and effort and to making it look nice we didn't want to ruin it in the last step. The first few buildings it was hard to control the brush to make thin lines and we didn't really like the way it looked. But we kept going and improved and we got more comfortable with the bush. By the end we had about five or six people working on the outlines and it was done in no time. We didn't realize it when we were painting but when we stepped back we noticed that the black lines made it so much brighter, gave it a style, and brought more life to the room than before. 


So we came to Haiti & painted a mural (or two)


So, Stephanie explained why we have been a bit delayed (in our concept of time) in painting the mural.  You see, it is Carnival right now, which means that when we went to buy the paint on Tuesday, all businesses were closed so that they could celebrate.  Dr Morquette forgot about that since he does not participate in Carnival, so our painting folks got a lovely tour of Petionville & a local grocery store on Tuesday, but no paint.  However!  Yesterday, we hit the jackpot!  As you can see below, we were able to find the perfect paint, and due to Mark's mixing skills, beautiful colors resulted.

Mark, Kate & Leslie got the outline on the wall, and then started organizing, mixing and planning, and went to town.  Literally, since the mural is of a funky town.  :)

The kids had an awesome time painting...this one was in the boys dorm, and today we will be starting a mural in the girls dorm, so that is why you see all boys in the photos.  Today, we get the ladies involved.

Now check out the pics below!  I have been told there are some final details to be added...I think it looks glorious right now, but, that is why I am not in charge of the painting.  :)


Paint, paint & more paint!  And brushes, and cloths, and more...

And, last but not least, the (almost!) finished product:

We will have more pictures soon of the final, FINAL product!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making Do

We have had so much preparation for this trip.  We have arrived prepared with knowledge, supplies, and everything we could need.  But, the best preparation we received was to expect the unexpected, that very few things would go as planned.

We began the morning with the realization that all of the people who were in charge of the various aspects of the VBS were going to purchase paint for the mural, as their expertise was needed to choose the paint.   Oops.  In the US, this wouldn't be a very big deal - it might take about 15 minutes, but this is Haiti - so we had no idea how long it would take.  Would the hardware stores be opened?  Would they have the type of paint or any colors that we needed?  Who knows!  We would make do with what could be found!

So, we arrived at the orphanage 90 minutes later than anticipated because the driver arrived late, due to very heavy traffic.  We had none of our day's leaders, so we thought we would regroup and come up with a plan in the small apartment at the orphanage where we store materials, etc..  Abby opened a cabinet and a feral cat ran out of the cabinet, and stood in the kitchen hissing and howling! We all ran outside and got help.  One of the older boys came in and chased it out, and came to the rescue of 8 adults! 

On the way home, our driver had chosen a route that would help him avoid the traffic, but the main road we were using was blocked by a very large pile of trash that was about to be burned.  So, we had to back up on a dirt road full of pot holes, rocks and various debris - and lots of other cars and trucks trying to back up on this precarious "road".

But - you know what, in the end of the day we ended up singing and playing theatre games with the kids and had so much fun, we did have our VBS lesson, the first mural is almost finished. There were lots of smiles, giggles, piggyback rides, hugs and singing.  So, it all worked out just fine.  In fact, it was better than fine. 

I'm learning that life in Haiti is all about making do.  We are only here for a week, and so many things are prepared and done for us to make our time here pleasant and safe.  We just have to make do a little bit, in small ways that all turn out fine.  For us, these are interesting stories that we will bring home with us (or blog about)  The people we see living in makeshift shacks and tents are making do in much larger, more significant  ways, and have been doing so for years, and will continue to do so for years.  There are very few resources to care for the children at the orphanage, making do is a daily way of life for them - for both the House Mothers and the children.  It is overwhelming to think of the large and small ways that life is difficult for the people of Haiti, and for the children at the orphanage.  At dinner two nights ago, our host Dr. Morquette said that Haitians are only thinking of survival from moment to moment and do not have the luxury of thinking of the future.    They are making do, until when?  That question is too difficult to even contemplate.   For this week, we can't solve that question, but we can play with these children, love them, and remind them that God made them and God loves them and has not forgotten them.  How grateful  and humbled I am that God has let me be one of the people to deliver this message. 
Stephanie Snell

Today we continued our work cleaning up the pharmacy and helping establish a tracking system of medications.  We were asked to do an inventory of all of the medications and to put together a systematic way of using soon-to-be-expired medications first, track incoming donations or shipments, and track amount dispensed and total money received.  No easy task!  After going through everything, we found 4 big suitcases full of expired medications.  It was heartbreaking to throw these away!  We have been working hard with the pharmacist and new LPN who will be managing the pharmacy to help understand what they would like and what system would work best for them.  There's a lot of work to still be done but we've made great progress and hope to have everything organized by the end of the week.  The past few days I have also been working with the Haitian doctors and seeing patients.  I've been learning a lot from them and have even been seeing a lot of malaria, Chikungunya virus, and parasites.  I've had a chance to get to know the 3 residents well and catch a glimpse of health care in Haiti and the community we are serving.  Kings Hospital is the only hospital that serves the Cazeau community, a city northeast of downtown Port au Prince.  The children's hospital is very close but the next closest hospital is at least a 20 min drive on a good day.  As one resident described to me, Kings does not have the resources to provide emergency care but provides so many services like pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics, xray, and pharmacy among others, services that this part of the city would otherwise not have.  Today we started doing well-child physicals on all of the children from the orphanage.  They did so well with this and enjoyed playing with the reflex hammer and walking away with stickers on their arms!  It was a great joy to use what little skills I have to help keep them healthy and well.  I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week will bring!   --Heather

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birthday Celebration

Day two with the children was full of even more fun and laughter. We are beginning to develop better connections with them as well as see more of their personalities come out.  The more we spend time with them, the more we realized that it doesn’t matter the way in which we communicate with the children but rather our actions with the children will remember down the road. Today we had the joy of celebrating not only one birthday but THREE birthdays! Mark on the team celebrated the big 5-0.  He had the privilege of sharing this day with two twins, a boy and a girl, who turned 2 years old.  The children greeted Mark with notes.  Later, he remarked how he could not think of any other way of spending the day.  It was wonderful to see the twins dressed up.  The team is doing well with health, safety and becoming united so quickly.  We have all seemed to connect and feel comfortable with one another which can be rare when you put a group of 11 people in a situation such as Haiti.  There is no doubt that God’s presence is among us and working within us as well as the children and the hospital staff.
Thank you for your continued prayers.

About the photos
The first is of Mark receiving his card from one of the children.
The second is one that the children took.  We gave the kids out camera and found some amazing pictures!
The third is of us celebrating the birthdays. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

First thoughts

Monday, July 28, 2014
5:15pm - Leslie
It’s always hard to know what to write at first, there are so many thought to sort through – my own, the impressions team members have shared, conversations with our host – it’s all swirling around in my head.  Yesterday we went to the children’s church service and spent a little time with them, it was wonderful to see the two youngest children babbling and crawling and socializing with everyone.  When we were here last year they had just arrived and were clearly not coming from a good situation and it was encouraging to see the drastic improvement.  On the flip side of the coin, we were discussing with our host a microfinance program that used to exist for local women.  He said that after ten years the program closed and he was mad about it.  We talked in depth about all the benefits of the program and all the ways that it should have been assessed and he said something that stuck in my head, “what these people do not realize is that this life is a rodeo.  It is not a matter of if the women will fall off the cow or the bull, but how long, how many minutes or seconds she can hold on.”  The contrast of that dire assessment and the positive effects of the environment at the orphanage, albeit requiring extraordinary effort and support, is something that is hard to reconcile.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day one - Done!

Hello, everyone!

It's pretty crazy to say that we are already nearing the end of our first full day in Haiti, as yesterday was a half day.  As always, our first day was wonderful; a beautiful church service in the morning, a tour of Port au Prince right after, a delicious lunch, naps for most of us, and then church with the children (a first for us).

We are gearing up to have a great week with the kids, and have a bunch of cool stuff planned.  One activity in particular that will be pretty awesome is painting murals for the kids.  We came down thinking we were only going to paint one, and it turns out we will be painting two, one in the boys dormitory and one in the girls.  How exciting is that?!  Super exciting, if you ask me.  We look forward to sharing both the work in progress pics, as well as the finished products!

Thank you for all of your prayers for us.  As Leslie mentioned yesterday, our arrival was smooth & uneventful, which is just what we pray for.  Please continue to pray for us this week as we spend time with and get to know these wonderful children in Haiti, and while we do His work.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Safe arrival

Just a quick note to let you know that we are safe in Haiti!  We had smooth, uneventful travel and a great welcome by the children at the orphanage.  We visited with them for a little, marveling at how much they have grown in the past year, and are now settling into our home and adjusting to the heat.  Tomorrow we look forward to church in the morning, a tour of Port au Prince and then a visit to the children's church, which is a new thing for us.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Team and Trip dates

Hi friends,

It's been over a year since I returned from my last trip to Haiti and I am overjoyed to be returning in less than two weeks.  In the time between we have not stopped thinking about and praying for our friends and partners at King's. For the first time ever I have been watching the World Cup games,  remembering the soccer drills we did with the kids last year, and I can't wait to talk about the series with them when we arrive.

We leave Boston on Saturday, July 26th and will return on Sunday, August 3rd.  We will be posting updates here as the internet allows!  Our team this year is a great mix of medical and non-medical folks, people new to Haiti and people who have already experienced the joy of fellowship with our Haitian hosts.

The team:
Ruthie Chen
Kate Cutlip
Emily Graze
Heather Lorier
Abby Pavelko
Ina Rey-Mora
Jonathan Saleeby
Leslie Sears
Marie Sill
Mark and Stephanie Snell
Kylie Stone

-More to come, Leslie