It was a beautiful autumn afternoon. The sound of the drums drifted down the hillside, carrying with them the Caribbean rhythms of Saa Andrews, and drawing us towards Odell Lodge. As we approached, the smell of barbequed burgers floated filled the air. People came with a sense of anticipation to this, the first gathering of the FreddyLink community at the FreddyLink BBQ.
The vision of FreddyLink is to connect people in Fredericton with people in the Cobocol Area Development Project in the central plateau of Haiti. Connection means communication. And communicate we did!
How wonderful to hear first-hand from Paul-Émile César just how community development projects work, and to hear specifically about Cobocol, our sister community. To hear about the Hope Child program, how children from families ravaged by AIDS are given support. How wonderful to ask the questions that are on our hearts and to receive thoughtful answers. Suddenly, Haiti was so much closer and so much more real.
Then, the real treasure of the afternoon. We were able to link directly to sponsored children in Cobocol through Skype. We had a poor connection, but as people communicated directly with their sponsored children, the quality of the connection did not matter. We listened to a beautiful song sung by a little girl in Haiti. I did not understand a word, but it did not matter, it pierced my heart regardless. We heard a message from the manager of the Cobocol Area Development Project, and in that message we heard hope and thankfulness.
I come away from the experience deeply moved. Cobocol, which seemed so far away in distance, in culture, in language, and in conditions, now seems so much closer. Sponsored children changed from photos to voices and images. I come away from the experience knowing that Fredericton and Cobocol, which are so far in apart in so many ways, are now much closer thanks to FreddyLink.