I was happy when I headed for LaVallee, a small community in the mountains about 4 hours from the capital. LaVallee was like a little slice of paradise to me. The temperature was a lot cooler and the people were warm, welcoming, and treated you like family. There were always children around, which always warmed my heart.
While in LaVallee, I helped set up for a community raffle, painted and cleaned a hospital, learned how to cook from the elders, spent time with children and elders, learned about Haitian culture and customs, learned about clean water initiatives, ate some amazing food, participated in a Kite Festival, went to the beach in Jacmel, and made some life long friends. It was a privilege to be able to spend the New Year in Haiti as well. We had a large celebration and it was fun to be in a foreign place, yet still feel at home when celebrating such a milestone.
Being somewhere like Haiti really makes you think about how lucky you really are, and opens your eyes to how much you take for granted. We only ate twice a day (breakfast early in the morning and dinner late at night), which make me realize how lucky I am to have access to food whenever I want. There is also a shortage of clean water – it is a precious resource. It made me very mindful about how we use (and waste) a lot of water in the United States and how lucky we are to have instant access to clean drinking water. I also experienced a touch of culture shock when I went to the market on market day and witnessed the animal slaughter (not sure I will be eating meat anytime soon). I am lucky I live in a place where I can easily go to a store and get meat if I chose and I do not have to kill it or watch or hear it be killed, myself; I do not have the stomach for that.
Despite a tad bit of culture shock, my overall experience in Haiti was absolutely amazing. I loved every second of being in Haiti. The food was great. The people were captivating. The culture was beautiful. I had fun making a difference (even if it was a very small difference), and I cannot wait until the day I am able to return to Haiti – hopefully, to work on another clean water project – and to be reunited with the land and people that I feel in love with.
You can see more from my trip to Haiti here.