We made it at last after waiting more than a year.On the flight we met a team of 24 people from churches in New Brunswick and PEI wearing white “Team Haiti” T-shirts. They were on their way for a one week trip to the north of Haiti to assist in re-building churches. For many it was their first trip and they were quite excited.
We flew in and could see the mountainous countryside, with very few trees.
We arrived OK, tracked down our luggage, and made our way to the hotel. It was quite a drive! The driving motto seems to be “the boldest goes first”. The streets are winding, often very steep, and not always in good repair. The traffic was very congested, with cars moving slowly, and with pedestrians walking and motorcycles weaving fearlessly around the cars. I resolve never to drive in Haiti!
Many children walking home from school in their colourful school uniforms. I saw a woman walking her special needs daughter down the street – I know the challenges of a special needs child in Canada, and I wonderdred on what challenges she faced here in Haiti.
As we travel, I watch for signs of the damage from the earthquake. I understand this section of the city was less damaged. Some buildings appear intact but may have been repaired. Some have obvious structural damage but are still in use. These building are punctuated by scattered rubble in places that used to house buildings. The roads are mostly cleared with occasional roads partially blocked by rubble. Our host tells us that other areas of the city had much greater damage. Perhaps most disturbing is the tent cities we pass. There was a large one near the airport that seemed to go on and on. Many of the tents in poor repair. I wonder what the people living there do for the basic necessities of life – shelter, sanitation, food, and caring for children. I take no photos during the ride, not yet certain or comfortable with photographing these people with their many challenges. Instead, I photograph the uncontrolled housing which has extended high into the hills.
We arrive at the hotel. It is beautiful! It was heavily damaged during the earthquake but has since been rebuilt.
We meet with Paul-Emile Caesar over supper. We discuss our coming week, and begin discussing ideas for new fund-raising opportunities. It is good to hear first hand what is really needed, and how we might be able to provide tangible help.
A long fulfilling day to begin the trip!