Well, I did it. I broke out of my Trinity, Florida, crazy life as a mom, bubble. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the trip – even to the point that I wrote letters to my children in case something happened to me. When I got there, it was truly like stepping onto another planet. Traffic was crazy (worse than NYC in rush hour). There were tents as far as the eye could see. There were market places, packed with people. Vendors sold anything and everything – things we would consider junk were commodities over there. There was garbage everywhere. Children swam in dirty waters – the same water they bath and drink from. Pigs swam there, too. I saw cows, horses, pigs and goats tied to trees with no water in sight. Some were so emaciated you could not believe it. We stopped at a mass grave from the earthquake with 3000 crosses. It overlooked the most beautiful bay – the irony of it just resonated with me. I felt so many emotions – sadness and fear, wondering what we were in store for.
When we pulled up to our orphanage, we saw the children eating their rice and beans. They went crazy when they saw us. All of my fears simply melted away at that point. A little boy reached out for me, and I held him tight. The children are so sweet – little angels in a situation beyond their control.
We set up our clinic on the first day at an orphanage in Port Au Prince that made the one we were staying in look like a castle. There were 120 children staying in a place that should hold 50-60. I saw a room the size of my son’s with 13 beds in it. They told me 18 kids slept there – the rest on the cold hard floor. The children played with garbage – water bottles, bottle caps, rocks – anything became a toy. The bathroom had feces on the floor. Some of the kids had no clothes – the ones that did, were wearing clothes donated by People For Haiti.
One little boy stole my heart. He reached for me and clung tighter and tighter when I tried to put him down. I just held him until he fell asleep. I will never shake the image of his face, and the otherjo children’s as we drove away that day. There is no way out for them. Most of them are “strays” that are not legally registered there, so have no hope for adoption.
I could go on and on with stories, and I did keep a journal. But, the true heroes of this trip were the doctors, nurses, and Miss Guiga. The days were long, it was hot, and they saw over 1000 patients with only one short break each day. I broke outside of my production role and sat in on some surgeries where I held a boy’s head as he got stitched up, or held the flashlight for the amazing Dr. Lonnie so he could see. The screaming and crying of children got to me. I don’t know how you they do this every day – and under these primitive surroundings, it blew me away. I am honored and humbled to have been in your presence.
Miss Guiga – you amaze me! No one has not heart or energy than you. Your organizational skills are amazing. You made us all feel safe. Your devotion and love for the people of Haiti is apparent, and I believe you will get your permanent clinic over there if you set your mind to it!
Everyone should have to go to Haiti once in a lifetime. Things at home that normally stress me out seem so frivolous now. My house looks like a mansion. My children can never tell me they are bored or “starving” again. I have now looked poverty in the eye, and it is not a pleasant thing to see. It’s very hard to comprehend how an entire country can struggle so, while we live in such comfort. It was kind of liberating, being over there and not worrying about make-up, blow dryers and superficial things. I have never looked worse on the outside, or felt better on the inside. I would definitely return to Haiti. The people there have touched my heart and changed my life forever.
Jody Hill, Producer