I didn’t walk into People for Haiti blindsided, my mom, Jill, went on the January trip and after hearing her stories and seeing the pictures, I knew it was something I wanted to be apart of. No matter how many pictures you see, videos you watch, or stories you hear, nothing can compare to your personal experience. I was nervous when we first arrived, it was a lot to take in all at once. The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve could have imagined, driving through Port Au Prince alone was eye opening. But when we pulled up into Cabaret Children’s Home and all the kids ran out to greet us with loving hugs and warm smiles, my heart melted and I knew exactly what being there was all about.
Its unbelievable that our team was able to help the amount of people we did, setting People for Haiti records. To see the smile on people’s faces to receive such simple things like tylenol and reading glasses was rewarding enough. Back at the children’s home, the kids were entertained for hours by bouncy balls, taking pictures, and dancing in the rain. I’ve never seen so many faces light up at the sight of a lollipop, and you feel like a hero for being able to be the reason you caused that beautiful smile. To them, it really is the simple things in life that will do.I feel like I benefited more from Haiti, then Haiti benefited from me. Everyone I connected with on the way; from the interpreters, Fidelson and Jonathan, to the kids, Jerry and Wilguens, and every member on our special September team. Haiti taught me to be carefree, no need to fret over the small stuff. Most importantly that there actually is life outside of JW Mitchell High School, even though sometimes to me that seems impossible. But in fact there’s a whole world out there to explore, learn about, and aid.
Haiti was my trip of firsts; my first time out of the country, my first attempt at triage, my first time mixing medicines, the first time I had to help control a large crowd, first time riding in a tap tap, the first time I felt like I made a difference and did my part to give back. Although it was many firsts, I know they were not my lasts. Lifetime memories were made, such as our late night rummikube games, nutuella and pretzels, and the emotional and moving prayer circle our last night in Cabaret. The 9/11 Haiti trip is one for the books, and for a fact will always have a special place in my heart.