As the plane lowered to Port au Prince, I could see kites flying above the city and bright colors on buildngs and blue rooftops. Though I thought I knew otherwise, Haiti looked like a happy place. As we lowered even closer, I realized that the blue rooftops I was seeing were actually tents. Tent cities were covering so much area. Much more than I had expected. We hadn’t even landed the plane and I could feel Haiti already making its way into my heart.
The Port au Prince airport was affected by the earthquake, so baggage claim, customs, and everything else we experienced the first minutes in Haiti was held in this hanger. It was hot and crowded, but I was stuck in a wheel chair the whole time. There was a Haitian man working at the airport who wheeled me off the plane, through customs, down the street to our ride, and even found my luggage for me. Best customer service of all time. He was awesome.
As we rode from the airport to Bethel Guest House, where we were staying, we got our first real views of the destruction. There was so much to take in, as someone who had never been to a place like this before, every tiny thing was a new experience. I wanted to be able to walk around in the city and meet the people and smell the market and learn whatever else Haiti had to teach.
Driving through the city, one of the trip leaders brought to our attention that most of the collapsed buildings probably still had bodies in them. They have neither the equipment or the people to get in and get the people out who were trapped in January. I couldn’t stop thinking of that every time we drove past a building like this one below.
Sunday morning we went to church. Easter Sunday in Haiti was really cool. Even though I couldn’t speak Creole or understand much of it, (I could understand bits and pieces thanks to my years in French class) it was moving. Watching the kids playing in the aisles was hilarious. They were so interested in my boot and my crutches, which was a great way for me to get to meet some of them. A few of them were actually afraid of me because of the crutches… which was hard for me to deal with. I wanted to explain to them what had happened.
One boy I met at Bethel Guest House had been dropped off at the orphanage after the earthquake, and he was especially nervous about the boot. I’m not sure he came within 20 feet of me the whole time I was there. He would look at it and make a wide loop around me. His name is Junior.
Sunday after church we ate lunch and then headed to the orphanage for older kids. They’re ages 8-21. We met a girl named Carmen who is 14. Her favorite color is pink and she likes romantic movies. We met a girl named Stephanie who was 19. She wants to move to Lousiville, KY to go to school for public relations or broadcasting. This is where she sleeps every night.
At the end of the day Sunday, my foot was swollen and sore and physically I was just completely worn out. But I was excited. I was excited to meet the babies the next day, to engulf myself in Haitian culture, and to be used in any way I could in the next week.