Haiti was an experience I will never forget. I have volunteered for many causes in the past, but this one is the most memorable. From the moment we landed, I knew I was in an impoverished society. Leaving the airport, I will never forget seeing so many people and so much poverty! Driving to the orphanage, I saw my first glimpse of the tent cities, and the horrible living conditions of the Haitian people. I couldn’t believe conditions like that can exist in 2011. It was worse than I had imagined it would be. I became more worried the closer we came to the orphanage. What would I see? How would I handle the children? My fears eased when I saw smiles on the children’s faces. That is one thing I would learn about the Haitian people I met; aside from all of the tragedy around them, many are still are able to smile. The first day, we had a clinic on the mountain. I was amazed at all of the people who walked such a long way to see the Doctors! I was shocked by the amount of pregnant women and how many children the women had. How could people that don’t even have safe drinking water and a solid roof over their head have so many babies! My favorite memory of the day was the women who complained of vision problems. Her eyes were so bad, she could not see any of the lines on the vision chart. I helped look for the strongest reading glasses we had. All we had was a weak prescription, but when she put them on, she had the biggest smile on her face. The translator asked her if she could see and she replied “Perfect.” The next days brought more shock and disbelief while traveling 3 hours on a bus. Dr. Patel reminded me that the Haitian people don’t know any other life. They, in a way, don’t realize what they don’t have. At the last clinic, I kept noticing a boy, Christopher, whose shoes were in really bad shape. Not only were they pink, but they were about to fall apart. That night, when we returned to the orphanage, I found Christopher. I asked him if he wanted to try on my shoes. He did, and they were a great fit. He just looked at me, gave me a hug, and said “thank you.” I will never forget that moment.
I witnessed so many people that gave so much on this trip. People like Mike, the missionary, who gave up his life in America to be with the Orphans. Also, I admire all of the volunteers from People for Haiti, who return time and time again to help and comfort the people. They are truly special and I hope they realize what a gift they have. I was blessed to have been able to work with them and watch them in action.