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Victoria Duran

Nathan’s Reflection

It’s hard to write about experiences so new and abstract. Being able to interpret an experience in a different world and encountering people, objects, ideals so foreign and new is difficult. I’m not going to lie. But the truth behind our purpose and approach to this trip begins to take shape and finally crystallize into an object worth saving and remembering for “at least” a lifetime. I honestly do not know how to explain what happened today, but I can say “expect the unexpected.” We as a group can’t immerse ourselves into worlds where people (children/adults) and places seem so laid out. Meaning things seem to go the way we want them to go. Smiling. Fun. Doing something that helps develop something far greater than ourselves. But the truth is, we can’t have everything and not every individual event will go the way we want it to go. From what happened today, my views and perspectives weren’t necessarily changed but i can say it was a reality check.

We started our day at SOPUDEP for the third day in a row. Even though we were supposed to only go for one day, we knew after the first time we had to do these intense aerobics, jazzercise, core exercises, and a little bit of Zumba (never thought I would say I did Zumba) again. So I guess this is our little addiction in Haiti. I mean who can resist the smiles. The experience at SOPUDEP is so different from Ashley and Ms. K learning dances to Amy and Sky getting the hang of Haitian games but the best part about it is everyone enjoys the the work and experience being done there. But not only did this experience stay at SOPUDEP but continued to the second part of the day at Sakala. It was inspiring to us to see the work the children do at Cita Solei with the largest urban garden in Haiti but also the love and passion for their game of futbol. Each one of us encountered this either with Lauren, Amy, Ashley making baskets in a friendly game of basketball or Nathan, Sky, and Joshua struggling to keep up with the fast passing Sakala team. The day was enjoyed because of these simple pleasures and our compassion and dedication to what we’re here to do.

What happens today doesn’t really matter. The fact of the matter is we were able to question what happened and the real purpose of this trip. We did hit a couple of bumps and some roadblocks but we became closer together. The ability to talk about things we can’t talk about everyday is like finding a needle in a haystack. Relief and happiness strikes because the reasons we were brought together were cherished and unique in its own way. This is why I believe it took time for this trip to transform into what it is now and continue to change despite all the differences, conflicts, joys, laughs, and events that unfold. But in the end, I can see all of us holding this crystal forever.

See you on the other side.
- Nathan Bao
#ambidextruous

Honestly, I can’t describe what happened. It seriously made me question the whole purpose of our trip. Is our mission to work in solidarity really gonna make a difference? What will happen after we leave? It was worrisome to discover how these questions came up because I was completely shocked and fell out of my mind set after the day’s event. For a bit, I was drawing a blank and at points I didn’t know what to say or do. I arrived in Haiti thinking I was prepared for everything Haiti has to offer; good and bad. Although this was the case I completely regret that decision of seeming to be prepared.

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Josh's reflection

It is about 10:00 A.M in the morning over here in Haiti. In my opinion, the early morning is the most beautiful part of the day. Spending time at SOPUDEP in the morning has been very fun for me personally. At the school yesterday , my new friend Danielle and I attempted to freestyle on the microphone with great amounts of energy. Eventually the rest of the crew took a turn too. It was wonderful to see such enthusiasm from our small group, even if it wasn’t their cup of tea. The laughter and memories we are sharing will never be forgotten.

Describing our feelings for any day in Haiti is always difficult. It’s a completely different world where new knowledge is being shared with us at all times. As leader of the day, one task is waking everyone else up. Conveniently we had an early morning workout which gave me the opportunity to dance around at 6:15 attempting to wake everybody up. Breakfast consisted of juicy eggs with sliced ham and sides of bacon and sausage. Knowing we had a long bumpy ride ahead and sleepy as ever, we dragged ourselves and our boxes of candy to the car and so began our awesome day. The workout at SOPUDEP was an experience like no other. Imagine 300 happy and energetic students all dancing to mainstream music from America. Not one of use were a tad bit sleepy after 45 mins of jumping jacks, yoga stretches and crunches. The students were ushered into the classrooms where we passed out Skittles, M&Ms, stickers and then brought back outside for more dancing and a huge game of duck duck goose.
     We kids get hungry so Rea took us to the supermarket where we bought food to eat at the NEW SOPUDEP school construction site. Ms. Duran’s reaction was compelling. The last time she was in Haiti, this site was merely a patch of land with barely a cement foundation. As seen in the pictures, there are now 2 stories on the left wing with 10 classrooms and theres an underground storage under the future right wing of the school. Following our schedule, we went to Delmas 33 and Delmas 30 which were these HUGE Tent cities consisting of 32,000 people living off of almost no money (95% unemployment). We were greeted by the leaders of the cities Eli Joseph and also Maxo. Eli Joseph put much emphasis on how he is not looking for charity but for assistance. He believes every being deserves food, shelter and healthcare but getting that would require either government support or community  strength. Maxo on the other hand has a different situation where his camp works with girls involved in prostitution and ex slave children. Slave children work hard with no access to schools and in the instance where they get impregnated (often due to sexual assault and rape), they are kicked out onto the streets. He explained what the situation was and how he has been funding programs to get these kids back to their original families in the countryside. Possibly we will elaborate on what more of they said in future posts because so much great information was brought up in their speeches. Finishing up with a tour of the city, our group came back to Rea’s house where hugs, smiles a delicious dinner was waiting for us as always!

Everyday is an adventure and the knowledge we have been gaining is priceless. Goodnight and thank you.
-Sky

Bonswa fanmi! (Hello family)

What an incredibly beautiful day we had today! Breakfast was served for us this morning which included delicious watermelon, mango, banana, and pancakes! We also enjoyed green tea, while Trudy and I enjoyed much needed coffee to jump start our day. We started our day off with a trip to SOPUDEP in the center of Petion-Ville (you may read more about Rea’s school here www.sopudep.org). Immediately when we arrived we heard the voices of students singing as they received our delegation in their classes. We were met with about 70 elementary students who sang, clapped, and smiled to share their curiosity for us. Soon after we participated in a large group activity of about 250 students who joined in with interactive dances and team builders. Soon after, we joined classes in session for workshops in carpentry, art, music and other summer activities that involved a task or trade to learn. For our first full day we focused on education and our question of the day was, how can recreational play encourage educational learning during the summer? Together we participated in the engaging, interactive, and cultural exchanges in the classroom. Our group supported with distributing a mid day snack of bread and hot chocolate. We all participated in an art project involving paper, glue and commitment to create a beautiful star. This class was taught by a SOPUDEP high school student. That afternoon we enjoyed delicious pizza for lunch and then drove through Petion-Ville. On the road we saw the Oasis Hotel which is funded by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush foundation. The
homes in the country side that are in the view of the hotel have been painted in bright colours to accommodate the hotel guests. Many residents of the countryside have protested and have refused to paint their homes.

On our return to Rea’s house we ventured over to a mega food market where the students participated in shenanigans and adventures in the two level store. They noticed the prices of food and products as they are comparable to US prices. The customers who frequent these stores are exclusively upper class Haitians and foreigners working for non governmental organizations. Once we returned to Rea’s home we enjoyed a meal of diri e pwa (rice and beans) along with chicken, salad, and vegetables. Soon after we watched a game of futbol otherwise known as soccer in the US! Unfortunately the Haitians were not victorious in defeating El Salvador however is was a fantastic experience watching Haitians cheer for their national team!

We had a nightly reflection with Rea and her son Daniel. Both guided us in learning about the education system, politics and personal testimonies. Here we shared our responses to the question of the day, expressed the things that motivate and fuel us in our quest for education. All in all we are healthy and well. We send you all our love and big hugs!

I am so grateful and appreciative to be here and share this experience with 6 students and a fellow educator.

We look forward to sharing with you all our experience when we return.

-Victoria

Day 1: Arrival & Settling In
June 14, 2013

    My reactions to the day’s event would be words do no justice. Everything that I’ve seen, heard, and even smelled was like stepping into a whole different world. Before, I get into the amazing details of the beautiful Haitian culture, I’d like to mention that yes, we have arrived safe and sound in Haiti! All the parents have been sent an email from Ms.Duran notifying our safe arrival! So, breathe Mom & Dad! We’re all doing perfectly fine! But enough of the boring, and into the amazing! During our ride to Rea’s home, we saw hand-painted advertisements along the concrete walls as well as many Haitians wandering the roads. We saw from people selling fruit and vegetables in the hot sun to men washing down cars. The vibrant colours of the Haitian culture is very hard to miss. They’re not only used as advertisements, but as well as shop signs, and also on cars called TapTaps. These “TapTaps” are very colourful open spaced trucks used for private transportation.  Though I am making Haiti sound like this beautiful resort, we shouldn’t forget about the devastation that has been done to Haiti which made it become one of the impoverished countries in the world. The roads were very bumpy due to the loose gravel, potholes, and even abandoned cars right in the middle of the road. Along the sidewalks were piles of gravel, trash, and even canals of water with trash strewn inside of it. We were met by many people coming up to our car asking for money, wiping down our car in hopes of receiving some change, and seeing tons of people on the road sitting as if they had no home to call theirs.
    To continue on a brighter note, meeting Rea’s family was like being introduced to the definition of family. The welcoming that they gave us was phenomenal. Open arms with the biggest smiles I have seen yet. We were always introduced with a smile, kisses on the cheek, hugs, or high fives, and with a “Bonjour” or “Bonswa” (which means hello/good day) After we settled into our bedrooms, explored what we would be calling home for the next 9 days, and took a quick cat nap, we were finally reunited with Ms.K and Ashley! Afterwards, we gathered our group of 8 and Rea’s family into the backyard to officially meet. We went around with our names, and expressed our gratitude towards Rea’s & Bataille i’s family for allowing us to stay in their homes. After, we had a delicious Haitian dinner consisting of rice, salad, sliced avocado, herbed potatoes, and goat with peas, onions, and a nice kick of spicy to accompany it! Following was a fun, sweaty game of soccer with a few of Rea’s family members until we couldn’t see anymore! We spent the rest of the night lounging on top of the roof reflecting over the day and our future goals for this trip. I would say, we have ended the day off with something more than we expected. With the few challenges of losing two of our group members due to mixups and learning of the verdict of Trayvon Martin’s case where George Zimmerman was found not guilty that’s leading to the many protests from Florida,  New York, California, and severely other states across the country. Instantly feeling like family once stepping into Rea’s home is something that I won’t ever forget nor do I doubt the others will either. I learned today with an open heart and mind, you’ll take in more than you’ll ever expect and gain so much knowledge within so little time. I am definitely excited to work and see how far we can go for the rest of this trip!

Posted by Amy Pham

Organizing and Planning for the De-Bug Haiti Solidarity Showcase! It was a success! 

Look at all of the hard work the EV Haiti Solidarity Crew has invested to show support to SOPUDEP!!! This has been a major commitment since September and we are almost there! 

3 Days from now we will be on a flight to HAITI

Hi all I am super excited to be traveling with you and to work shoulder to shoulder with 6 incredible EVHS students and the Haitian community! 

SAK PASE!