****We've been without reliable internet/electricity the past few days, so we are sitting in Fort Lauderdale, FL airport catching up on the blog.
Wednesday, on our way out of Port Au Prince, we stopped in to visit two different ministries Heartline runs. (Heartline was the wonderful guest house we stayed at in Port Au Prince. I highly recommend them!) One is called Haitian Creations. They teach women in the community skills to make a living like sewing, cooking and jewelry making. The women who join the program make handbags, aprons, beautiful necklaces, bracelets and earrings as well as metal wall art. The beads are made from scraps of fabric, glue and shellack. They sell their work in the guesthouse store and online. The women earn a percentage of the sale of the item and have a skill they can use to start their own business and continue to support themselves. We are hoping to partner with them to get their products in the OH store! Stay tuned...
|One of our team members, LeAnne, was able to leave a whole suitcase full of shoes for the women who come to these centers, in honor of Mrs. Lester.|
After our Heartline tour, the team boarded a school bus and headed out to Respire in Gressier, Haiti. The drive to Respire truly was indescribable. We drove through the roughest part of town, Cite Soleil which has been called the poorest area of town in Haiti and violence is rampant. The day before, there had been a lot of gunfire and fighting in that area. People told us police won't even go to that area of town because the violence is so awful and the gangs pretty much control the area. By the time we drove through, the UN troops were stationed there to help keep the peace. The traffic is horrible in that area of town so it gives you even more time to see the devastating poverty. Everyone on our team who have traveled different places all over the world agreed this was the worst poverty they had seen. The marketplace was crowded with thousands of people selling fruit, vegetables and other goods on top of huge piles of garbage. Mixed with the garbage are huge puddles of muddy water. It was total filth. It actually reminded me of the verse in Psalm 40:2, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
We also passed the dump where they were burning trash, plastic and all, which had a horrific smell. It's so hard to imagine that people live and struggle to make a living here everyday. Such devastation everywhere you turn. Yet in the devastation there is hope. There ARE people here making a difference, one life at a time.
After a heartbreaking, two hour drive (half of which was sitting in traffic and not driving at all), we arrived at one of these beacons of hope, Respire Haiti. This is the organization we learned about earlier this year. Kelly and a small team came out to meet Megan and see all that Respire is accomplishing back in May. Megan, the director, was in the states fundraising, so one of her awesome interns, Jessi, took great care of us. They were having an English class later that afternoon up at the school so after settling in, we made the trek up the mountain. When I say trek, it is quite the understatement. It's a steep, dirt mountain road with hot and humid weather. So before we even started climbing the mountain we were soaking with sweat.
However, once you make it to the top and stop and turn around, the view is stunning! You see the beauty among the ashes.
We got to see the tree where Pastor Benito and his wife (who are Haitian and have partnered with Megan) prayed for 12 years that God would send someone to come and help the community. We saw all the beautiful design that went into every intricate detail of that school from Kyle the builder. Not only are the buildings and scenery beautiful, but the children and all that is happening on that mountain and in that community are beautiful!
Lots more to come...stay tuned!