Thursday, February 7, 2013

{Day 4} July 25


Today has been so much fun and the only word to describe it would be ADVENTURE!
We woke up and headed to ESL. Jill taught again today. She did awesome. I’m still astonished at the Haitians personal motivation to learn English. ESL is at 6:30 AM. I would never voluntarily go to any class that early.
After ESL we had our same wonderful breakfast! Today I volunteerd to do gardening in the mountains- Paraison. Our group included me, Hilary, Becky, Jill, Chandis, Big Junior and litt Junoir. Big Junior doesn’t speak much English, he owns and drives his own moto and he is an amazing gardener. Little Junior is 17 years old and he speaks English really well!
We started our journey with a moto ride. I was with Becky. She is the funnest to ride on a moto with. The poor Haitian drivers probably think we are crazy because we just laugh at everything! Everything is funnier on a moto.

We rode the motos to a tap tap stop. Tap taps are trucks with benches on the sides of the bed and a covering over it all. Not very safe at all. But luckily we got there just in time to get on a “bus” or should I say get herded on a “bus”.
A bus in Haiti is known as a mini-van in the states. Usually meant to hold maybe 10. Our particular “bus” had 17 people. 17 is a big number. Chandis, Hilary, and little Junior were in the front seat with the driver and Becky and I were in the next row- Jam-packed. (Jill and Big Junoir rode Junoir’s Moto with the tools.)
There was a poor lady behind us that threw up during the drive. The overall smell of the vehicle was indescribable. We are such silly American girls that couldn't help but giggle the whole time. But this ride was pretty ridiculous. 45 minutes of crazy driving, steep roads and a huge cliff to the side of us. Giggling was a mask to cover our fear and excitement of the unknown. We tried taking pictures but it doesn’t do it justice. As we went up the super windy mountains, we could start to see the prettiest view of Haiti. It truly is a Beautiful place!

Inside the "bus"

When we reached our destination there were no houses, so we walked up the mountain. Yes, up a mountain. I am so grateful for my Tevas!! We helped a man plant a garden in plantar buckets around his house. We gathered different dirt and sand to make the best soil and then planted the seeds. We waited for a while because the Haitian man was going to take us to another garden but he couldn’t take us until his wife got back because he was watching his baby. This was the cutest black baby I have ever seen. He was two months old and so precious!!

Jill with the precious little baby!

After a while we trekked down a mountain- it was such a steep mountain! Chandis and Becky fell a few times and got pretty scratched up. We eventually came to a garden and we planted seeds and watered it, then we did the same to a few more gardens. I learned that many Haitians know how to garden, but seeds are so expensive that they can’t do it themselves. 
One of the best parts of the day was playing with the local children! when we finished a garden, the kids would come up to us. Especially jill. She is like the Haitian baby whisperer. 

While doing gardens:
Becky, Jill, Hilary, me, Chandis and Haitian Kiddies!

Me, Jill, (little) Junoir, HIlary, Chandis

Hilary, Chandis, Jill, Becky

Becky, Jill and Paraison Kids!

Paraison was mesmerizing! The mountains were beautiful and the air wasn’t as humid as it was in the crowded streets of Leogane. It was such a breath of fresh air- literally.
We eventually wandered back to the first house we helped. Big Junior made us lunch! We had sandwiches: Thick bread, spamish-perperoni, onions and scrambled eggs with ketchup spread all over! It was surprisingly good. I must’ve been starving. Haha
We relaxed and hung out while we drank soda to stay cool. Eventually it was time to go so we went down the hill to the road to find a ride. Yes, find a ride. We were hoping for a tap-tap or bus to drive by that was going down the mountain. We waited for a while and then it started to sprinkle. And then it started to rain. [Side note- Haitians are terrified of the rain. They think it makes people sick and so they fear it and hide from it].

Waiting for a ride before the rain.
 We are drinking from purified water bags.

There were a few local Haitians selling water and soda by the road let us cram in a make shift shelter with them. Literally smaller then a tool shed.  

Inside the tool shed hiding form the rain
Katie, Hilary, Junoir, Becky, jill, Chandis

I got claustrophobic really fast so I waited in the rain for a tap-tap or bus to drive by. Finally, one came. Amazingly enough, this tap-tap had white people from Georgia and Tennessee who were in Haiti with a Baptist service group. They were shocked that 4 American girls were hitch hiking in Haiti. (Junior somehow got on the other tap-tap that was also filled with white Baptists). We probably seemed so dumb as we just laughed at the whole situation. They asked us where we were staying and we literally had no idea of the address or major areas around our house. I later realized how bad of a situation that could’ve been. Heavenly Father was definitely watching over us to deliver a tap-tap full of kind religious people.
When we got to town the Baptists dropped us off at the tap-tap stop where we got on the back of motos and rode towards home following Junior and Jill on their moto. On our way home, Becky and I were together, our motto driver almost got in a head on collision. We screeched to a stop literally a foot between us and another angry moto driver. We don’t have helmets on the moto. We could’ve been so hurt! When we were finally home, Becky and I could just giggle because we were so shocked and scared. Haha. Still don’t really know how to handle it.
Because I seem to want to write a novel each night, I started writing in my journal before ESL until my eyes drifted and I couldn’t stay awake. When I woke up it was time for ESL. I love teaching English! Gart and I co-taught but I hope to teach by myself eventually.
During our walk back to the house form the school, a Haitian in a puma shirt (Adam always wears puma stuff…) walked me home. His name is John and his English is great! I think I’m starting to think black men are oober attractive. Haha. *Reminder- tell Adam I love him!
We came home, ate dinner and then I took a shower. When I got out I was told that we aren’t supposed to take real showers just in case the power goes out so we can conserve the running water for hand washing and the toilets. When the power is on the water tank can fill up, the water tank can last 2 days without being refilled, but sometimes the pump doesn’t fill up when the power is on so we have to save it as much as possible. I misunderstood this the first few days, but they made it clear tonight.
So that was my last real shower till I return to the states. I am honestly really sad about this. Running water for showers was my most favorite luxury besides my battery powered fan. Oh well. I guess when in Haiti, do as the Haitians do! Bucket showers, Bring it on.

I am feeling a lot less overwhelmed. I like when we can stay busy but I get frustrated when the American volunteers are hesitant to just jump in and work. I really need to work on my patience.
I miss Adam like crazy. I can’t wait to hold his hand and talk about his experiences in the Philippines compared to my experiences here. I think it will be a good bonding thing for us! I hope he isn’t worried about me. I hope my family isn’t worried either. I hope Heavenly Father is comforting them.
I feel Heavenly Fathers strength each day. If this is what a mission feels like then I understand why guys don’t want to come home. Home… that feels like a far away dream. A strange unreal dream that seems so complicated compared to Haitian life.

  •          SwoobàSweaty boobs
  •          Granolaà a person who is all natural. Doesn’t usually shower and probably wears our doorsie clothing. (Ie. I feel like a granola while I’m in Haiti.
   Thank you BECKY for expanding my vocabulary
  •           Have you ever tried to explain the word “utterly”? Ya. That happened in ESL today.
  •         Baptists asked where we live and we honestly had no idea. Embarrassing. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

{Day 3} July 24


            Great Day! Today I woke up at 6:10 to leave at 6:15 for English class. I am partnered with Jill and a guy named Alex. He isn’t here yet so me and Jill Taught. Okay. Jill taught and I wrote on the wall because we didn’t have a chalkboard. Today we talked about emotions. Our class is intermediate/advanced. They are so good at English! Jill is a great teacher so it’s awesome to see her teach them.
            After English we came home and ate breakfast, Fresh fruit! Fresh Mangos, fresh bananas, fresh pineapple and crackers and cheese. Fantastic way to start out the day.
After breakfast we (new volunteers) had a meeting/class on how to teach health classes such as Cholera class, feminine hygene class (breastfeeding and menstrual class), hand washing class, and broken bone and wound care class. These classes are for the community. We teach them and a translator interprets everything. Luckily I didn’t have to teach today because I feel super un prepared.
Instead, I got to go help out with gardening. Me, Gart and our volunteer Scott who speaks Creole and then our Haitian volunteers Junior (Big) and Styven. To get to our Gardening spot, we took a “moto”.
A moto is a motorcycle  used as a taxi cab. This was quite an experience. 

Example of a Moto Ride: 
Haitian driver, usually a girl and then a boy on the back 

We drove through streets of Leogane. Tons of goats, chickens, a few naked kids and lots of “Guruguru” remains. Guruguru is what Haitians call the big earthquake that happened a few years ago. Tons of rubble and lots of tent communities are main remains.
We eventually made it to the gardening area. We arrived at a house with the skinniest baby I’ve ever seen. The momma showed us to her back yard where the trees were cleaned out and where her kids had made a mini soccer field.

This was one of our last few rows, but you can kind of see the soccer field outline. 
The kids used white rocks for the chock to outline the field. 

Our job was to rotta-till the ground with a pick-ax. We had 2 pick axes and a shovel and a rake and a machete. Yes a machete. Two of us at a time would use a pick-ax to soften the ground. We made about 10-foot wide rows and 6 rows in all. I was so tired. And so sweaty.

This is Scott Turner. Two people worked on a row at a time- Each doing half. 
We switched pick-axers each row. I think I did half as much as the boys because I was too weak. 
Junior (big) laughed at my pathetic attempts. haha 

After the first garden I thought we were done but then we went to another house. This garden was a lot smaller and we finished it in no time. After that garden we were done! Gart was a sweaty beast so after our moto ride back home I was covered in his sweat. So gross. Haha
When I got back I wiped my body with baby wipes. When I walked into the sleeping rooms, all the other new volunteers had been taking naps. I was so bitter/jealous. I eventually stopped being green with rage and we ate lunch. We ate plantains and some stew stuff (with beef Liver). Honestly so good!
In the afternoon I got to go to the ophanage with Bethany and Becky and our Haitian volunteers Junoir and Styven. When we arrived at the orphanage, the children were just standing by table under some sort of shade covering. No one was talking. No one was smiling.
As soon as we sat down, the kids came up and held our hands and wanted to talk to us. There was a little boy butt naked sitting on the table. He couldn’t have been over two years old.
One little boy, Joelle (jsho- el), stayed by my side all day. He doesn’t speak Haitian Creole and he doesn’t speak English so I held his hand, gave him hugs and threw him in the air. There were probably 20-25 orphans. Most the girls don’t have panties. All the kids had swollen tummies and bugs were flying in their eyes and crawling on their faces.
We sang songs, played “Ring Around the Rosies”, played catch, lots of games with jump ropes and lots of tickling and hugs. The kids were OBSESSED with our cameras! The other girls let the kids play with their cameras the whole time but I decided I wanted to play games. [I also didn’t bring an extra battery for my camera so I didn’t want it to die on the first few days. I also wanted to teach in the kids games in hopes that the older kids could play the games with the younger kids.]

I PROMISE I WASN'T POSING WITH THE KIDS!  The older kids stole the camera and took pictures of me with the kids. I  tried to get the kids to take picture of the other kids but still they got lots of shots of me... picture overload.

That is the orphanage- where the kids sleep and live.
There was a sick older child on the cot with the blue blanket. 

She is such a beautiful girl! 

The kids would take turns taking pictures with the cameras. 

Big girls with the cameras


Becky and her fan club. The kids loved her Hair!

These boys were so funny! 


Joele. I couldn't get him to smile except when I was tossing him in the air.. Love that boy

[Now do you see why I only let the kids play with the camera for a little while?
 They LOVE pictures and I LOVE pictures of them
but my poor battery couldn't handle it...]

I fell in love with those kids. I hate that I couldn’t tell them and that I can’t tell them everyday. I hate that they don’t have enough to eat or proper beds or parents to love on them. I am so spoiled… When we left, I cried. We drove down the road and we could still see the kids waving from their gate… I hardly knew those kids and I cried. I didn’t expect such a reaction but I couldn’t help it. When I leave Haiti I have a feeling I’m going to have emotional problems.
After the orphanage we came home and then hurried over to English class. My class combined with Gart’s class so Gart and I got to teach together. It wasn’t as scary as I thought. My main problem is talking slow enough.
The night ended with dinner, a wonderfully cold shower, and some long talks with the other volunteers.  
Night time=Bed time.


I am always tired. I could nap anytime, anywhere.
Moldy Butt -> one way to describe the smell of Haiti

Monday, January 21, 2013

{Day 2) July 23


     Wow, What a year. Oh I mean day. We arrived in Haiti around 8:30am. The airport was way sketch but we got all our bags and we eventually found our director who had the car and everything ready.
[A little more about the Haiti Airport: Once off the plane, they herded us on to a bus to the baggage claim area. The baggage claim was more like a pile of luggage in a warehouse area. The overwhelming smell and the culture shock hit us like a fish in the face. When we walked outside the warehouse so many "workers" grabbed to "help us" with our stuff. If we allow them to help us, then we would be obligated to pay them for their work. We were told right before we went out to the courtyard not to let anyone touch our bags, but still Bethany and Becky got tricked into it. They had to fight for their bags back. It was so funny and no damage was done. haha.]
    We ended up waiting by the car for another girl to arrive and then that girl (Chandis) ended up loosing her passport after going through customs. Apparently passports can be sold on the black market for like $10,000. Needles to say, the 3 hours more of waiting at the airport for chandis to find it and eventually file a police report were kinda useless on account that not many Haitians would turn that in.

Pictures while waiting at the airport:
A water bottle full of Pee. Gross, I know. 

A car wash outside the airport. We were in this gated area and a few Haitians came and practiced their english on us, or they would try selling us stuff. 

"Enjoying" the Heat
(Me, Hilary, Becky, Bethany)
     After a 2 hour bus ride through Port au Prince, we finally came to Leogane. Port au Prince is a disaster. Remains of the Hurricane's doing were still very prevalent. Houses or sometimes tents were built on top of rubble.

The gang in the van for 2 hours traveling our "15 mile" trip from Port au Prince to Leogane. 
from front to back and left to right.
(Chandis, Gart, Junoir Belange, Becky, Bethany, Hilary, Me, Scott)

Becky in the van. She had a window. 

*** These aren't just sad pictures I had to search for. These pictures are from our drive. This is how it really looked the majority of the places we went. 

Tent Communities

proof of the Earthquake was every where

Tent Communities

Another tent community

Just a normal neighborhood

My picture of the Presidential Palace

    We passed multiple people showering in sewage. 2 Hours of driving through ten towns and sewage and smells that I can't even describe. By the way, This 2 hour bus drive was to travel to Leogane that is only 18 miles away. Ya. No traffic laws make for some interesting experiences. ( I have friends who can run 18 miles faster then that)

     Eventually We arrived at our house. Lunch was ready so we slumped into the kitchen and ate our wonderful meal of eggs & ham and spaghetti noodles & ketchup. Turns out when you are starving, this meal makes for a wonderful meal. 
     After Lunch we sat. That’s what you have to do to “cool off”. You sit. You don’t talk. You don’t eat. You sit and try not to breathe too hard. I will never complain about it being hot ever again. I thought I understood that it was going to be hot but this is hotter then heck itself. There is truth behind the saying, “Hotter then Haiti’s”. I don’t think there is such a place hotter. Standing in front of a fan barely helps. (okay done complaining for now)

This is where we would eat and then Sit. Food would be served buffet style on the table and then we would sit on the plastic chairs to eat. 

         After we got settled in the house, we went walking through the town to exchange money for Haiti Dollars or Goud. I have no idea about the exact conversions but $20 turned into 800 Goud. Haiti Dollars are different I think. Its like 20 Haitian Dollars = 100 Goud. Ya, I’m too tired to figure it all out.
         After getting the proper money, we went to an Internet café. I sent a very short email to my family and an even shorter email to Adam. I honestly didn’t expect to miss Adam this much. Like seriously. This is ridiculous.
         After sending our too short of emails we got some drinks [soda is the only cold beverages we can buy, hence I drink a lot of soda.] Then we went back to the house. I don’t really know whet happened but one minute all of the girls were talking and the next second we were all asleep.
         At 5:15 we went to ESL (Teaching English Time). Jill Wright, this guy named Alex and I will be teaching advanced English together. The students were mostly older males. They seem very smart and even more willing to learn.
         After English class we came home and ate stew and rice. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.

Random stuff:     
  •    The power is very unreliable so when the power is out we don’t have running water
  •         Even brown shower water can feel like heaven when its hot enough outside
  •         I miss Adam more then words can describe.

Honestly today was forever long.  Even though today was difficult, I’m trying to be optimistic for tomorrow!
                        Bring it on.

Me and Bethany are sleeping on a King size mattress bed together. We are so lucky cause everyone else is on a foam pad. We don't have a mosquito net though. I guess it's a trade off. 
Best thing I brought = battery powered box fan = heaven 

{Day 1} July 22, 2012

The Spirit of Adventure!!

     I am going to Haiti. Today I flew out of Sky Harbor [airport] with Gart Wright and his little sister Bethany. Our first flight was to Dallas, Texas. That is where we met up with 2 other girls -> Hilary & Becky. They both go to BYU. Well Hilary actually just graduated.
     In Dallas we got on a flight to Florida. It is now 1:30am and we are sleeping in the airport. Well the girls are. Gart and I are still up. I don't think I'll get any sleep tonight.

Becky, Hilary and Bethany sleeping in the airport.

Gart and I at way too early in the morning

     Gart and I were talking and this crazy Haitian lady started talking to us. We don't speak Haitian Creole and she doesn't speak any English. I feel like she was lecturing us about something and I slowly felt the reality hit me. I am going to Haiti. I don't know anything about Haiti. I don't even know if I could find it on a map to be honest and now I'm planning on being there for 4 weeks. Really? Smart move Katie.
     Before this experience, I was all smiles and excitement. Now I'm just thinking of a way to get out of this. A few months ago I decided I wanted to do a service trip. The idea of going to a third world country kind of scared me so I decided I would pray about this desire and I would look for answer at conference. One of the first talks were about the importance of service and then he [the speaker] spoke about an example of people in Haiti. I felt like this was a good sign.
      I applied and was accepted to serve with an organization called Sustain Haiti. We will be teaching English, going to orphanagesm helping with gardens, teaching public health classes and anything else they need us to do. I'm excited but so scared.


Gart and I studied Haitian Creole in the airport. The crazy Haitian lady's son taught some to us. 

At the top of every page of my journal, I wrote a random story or memory or quote. I will call these Snippets:
Becky and I got hot chocolate and doughnuts in the airport at 3am. the worker lady was grumpy. Becky got a bagel and hot chocolate for like $4.65. I got hot chocolate, a bagel and a doughnut (that was supposed to be 99 cents) for $4.85. I tried explaining to the worker lady but she was grumpy. I think she spit in the hot chocolate cause it tasted disgusting. haha. We were so slap happy. We giggled about it for hours

{Intro} The Crew

Here are all of the volunteers from the United States and our Haitian Volunteers. I may edit this later and write a little bit more about them. Till then, here are the volunteers:

United States Volunteers:

Gart Wright

Bethany Wright

Becky Skidmore

HIlary Thomas

Scott Turner

Chandis Paramore

Jill Wright

Zach Christensen

Eric Meldrum

Janessa Hatch

Dustin Homer

Alex Carrol (boy)

Alex Scott (girl)

Haitian Volunteers:

Junoir Belange

Junior Senecharles

Styven Innocent

Jean Brunel David (JB)

Fritz Gerald Fevrier

{Preface} Sustain Haiti

In July-August 2012, I went to Haiti through the organization Sustain Haiti. I had so many wonderful- Life Changing- experiences that I never want to forget. So while I was in Haiti, I wrote a very long journal. Like 110 pages long. 

Every Page was this full

I am not a great writer, nor do I particularly love writing, but in Haiti, I wanted to write everything down. Pictures weren't enough to describe my feelings and experiences. I became obsessed and so every extra second I had went to writing in my journal. In some ways I regret this. Maybe I should've spent more time just sitting and enjoying the experience rather then writing, but this notebook has honestly become one of my most favorite possessions. 

The classy composition Haiti Journal

This blog is my way of documenting my oh-so-precious journal in a public way. I have anxiety about something happening to my Haiti Journal so I want to document it on this website and then ultimately print a copy on Shutterfly. 

These are my goals, these are my purposes. I hope you enjoy reading because I enjoyed living these wonderful and sometimes difficult experiences!