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My First Trip to Haiti

 

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2013 GROW at Brenda2

The months leading up to the GROW internship were filled with planning, preparations, travel arrangements, and budgeting. With so much going on, I never really stopped to think about what it would be like to actually be in Haiti or what it would be like to finally see Maison de Naissance – the place I’ve been fundraising for and hearing about nonstop for the past few years. Now, as my time in Haiti wraps up, I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

The culture and society of Haiti was alarmingly different than my life at home. Yet, although I was surrounded by a life style that was completely foreign to me, I never once felt sorry for, or pitied, anyone. I think to go into another culture and pity them would be of utmost disrespect. And who is to say that my privileged lifestyle is necessarily superior? From what I saw, Haitian life is not easy; it is based on hard work and resilience. Families stay close and look out for one another. Energy is not wasted on many of the unnecessary stresses that I subject myself to in my life at home. And above all, they seem happy. Also, they are extraordinarily talented at balancing very large baskets of bread, clothes, food, and donkeys (kidding) on their heads! Haiti isn’t the luckiest of countries; they’ve been dealt a rough hand. Yet, the people continually pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and push onward – a quality that I admire greatly and hope to mimic.

Our project was centered about gathering data from women, who gave birth in 2012, in the service zone of Maison de Naissance. This gave us the unique opportunity to visit different communities and work with both translators and community health workers, all while walking the beautiful Haitian countryside. This gave me a closer look into what their life was really like. I immediately noticed many striking similarities: children taunting and teasing each other, mothers holding onto their babies lovingly, and conversation between neighbors or friends. These similarities proved that laughter, love, and friendship are universal concepts.

There are so many little things I want to remember from this trip: the beauty of the immense mountains, the precious uniforms on the school children, a certain intern (ahem, Megan) falling into a bush after crossing a log over a river, the kiss on the cheek I received from a tiny little Haitian boy as he approached me on his porch, the sounds of a baby being born (simultaneously painful and amazing), and many many many more. But most of all, I think it’s the people I’ve met who will stick in my memories the most – the patience of the translators, community health workers and drivers, the kindness of the mothers and families, and the many random people we interacted with.  Overall, I can’t say enough good things about my stay in Haiti. The country and people of Haiti will stay very dear to me for a long time.

Claire Cioni

GROW Team Member

 

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