Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We have had an amazing week in Haiti, and the time is going by so fast! It is hot,humid and sticky,and the mosquitos are biting! But the love and joy that we are experiencing easily overcomes those uncomfortable feelings. We've held starving children, cleaned hideous wounds, played with orphans and brought moments of joy into their lives.

Yesterday was the big day! Yesterday we saw the library and mobile learning unit in action! We were welcomed by 60 excited street boys, who were anxious to dig right in and learn! We gave each boy their very own picture library card! They were so proud to wear something that had their own identity to it. It was as if they were being noticed, and they were special. Boys from 3 to 16 years of age checked out books and went to their own shady area to read. Many of us sat down with them and read along. While some were reading, others were doing their English computer module. It was truly inspiring to see these boys yearn for knowledge. In their free time they begged us to do math facts! They are hungry to learn! As I was watching them read and work on their computers, I tried to look deep into their faces. Many of them have scars that likely tell horrible stories from their life on the street. They never dreamed of getting the opportunity to learn! Suddenly, they were given an opening to a whole new world! And they were embracing the opportunity!

Can you imagine what a young orphan can do with knowledge? An education will give these young boys a future! Progress will be slow. But, a commitment to consistent education for the street boys of Haiti could change a generation.

We only have two days left. We are missing our families back home but don't want to leave. There is a quote from Robert Frost hanging up in the house. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Monday, July 18, 2011

More like home than home

Day 2: Today we went to Jimmy bono’s. It was by far my favorite. Jimmy is an amazing man because of what he’s doing for these kids. The kids there were just special. When we arrived they were happy to see us and welcomed us into their home and played with us and we all had a great time. I’m so excited to go back to the “Street Kids”. Haiti feels more like home than home does. The people here are nice.  I mean; sure you find those party poopers, but there are always those kind of people. Also the volunteers that came on this trip are all really awesome people. I can’t ask for better volunteers to be with this week.

Levi (15 yrs)

God Bless you, I will forever Thank you

To everyone reading this blog,

The moment i stepped off the plane in Haiti i new i would never look at this crazy world the same. I have felt every emotion my body knows how to feel. i've felt devestated, guilt, sadness, hope, joy, humbled, blessed, and most important forever changed. It all started with rose. She was the first six month old little girl that i held. I don't know if she'll live tomorrow, or if she's alive today, or if she'll be alive in a year. But i do know she will go knowing what it was like to have someone love her and think she was the most beautiful thing she has ever seen, because that's what i felt.

Next was the wound clinic. I hope to be a doctor one day and so i thought this will be right up my ally. The second i walked in i felt pain, i smelt pain, i heard pain...i let myself cry and feel fear, only inside, for ten seconds and then for the next five hours i devoted myself to these people the best i could. I had one boy or man tell me "god bless you, i will forever thank you". What i did for him will never compare to what that man did for me. We're not the one's helping these people so much..they're helping us. They're helping us see what living is. what this crazy life is actually about. how intimate we should be with everyone surrounding us. We have so much to learn from them. We went to Jimmy Bono's home for street boys. We had brought finger nail polish for the few girls that we're staying there. One boy grabbed neon pink nail polish and asked if he could paint my nails. i will never get another mainicure again. his will always be the best. I am so thankful for this expierience. i am so thankful for these beautiful people surrounding me and i am so thankful for rebecca. She talks a lot about mother teresa but i hope she knows that to me she is my mother teresa...


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Santo Domingo

Early this morning Patrick, Bethany and I left for Santo Domingo. There is this very strange problem that has developed for many NGO's working in Haiti. Right after the earthquake, there were no businesses open. Many organizations were coming to Haiti to help, but it is pretty difficult if you don't have any truck. The big organizations snatched up all of the rental trucks. They just leased them for 1-5 years right off the bat. That left no options for the little guy. So, many of us bought trucks from the Dominican Republic and drove them over to Haiti. At the time the border was open. There was no problem going in or out, and, there was no problem driving a vehicle from the DR. Now, fast forward 3 to 6 months after the earthquake and I discovered that we had an almost impossible time of buying new tires for our truck. All the NGO's with their leased trucks were snatching up all the tires! Then, just about a year later---guess what? All of the registrations and insurance for the many DR trucks were expiring. Haiti now is demanding huge fees to matriculate the trucks. For example, for the Toyota that was donated to us--they want over $12,000! I decided that I wasn't going to pay that much. We will keep it registered as a Dominican truck. Now, in order for us to drive the truck in Haiti we have to pay for authorization which is $300/month. Uhggg... Anyway, to make a long story short--I have to do the title transfer and get insurance here in the Dominican Republic. So here we are... having an adventure. None of us are Spanish speakers but we are getting along. Rebecca

Friday, July 8, 2011

Longing faces

As I have previously posted, FFCIN had its first computer lab on Thursday. We actually had two sessions. The first was at Jimmy B's home for former Street Kids. It was kind of hectic at first, but the kids were respectful. I asked them to clean the area where we were going to set up the computers before we began. The kids kicked into gear and washed tables, swept the cement and removed chickens and roosters! Then we made a barrier with ropes and asked all of the kids to stay out of the area where the computers were being set up.

As you can imagine, there was extreme interest in all of these computers being set up! We called out the names of the first "class". There were 10 new students including Jimmy and his wife. It took us a little while to register them into the Imagine Learning program. The Imagine Learning Tech - Evelio, was right there with us giving us guidance. He told me that it was the first time that he was able to actually observe the program (in a foreign country) implemented after doing the training. It had to be especially satisfying for him to see.

Most of the first session was spent on a placement test. It was a little confusing for the students because they didn't really understand what was going on. However, the program is so cute that they even enjoyed the placement test. I learned a lesson though. And that is that we will just start all of the student from the beginning of the course and not worry about placement. It will be beneficial for everyone regardless of whether it is too easy or not.

Now, I wish that I could convey a detailed visual. The "chosen" students were mesmerized. They were seeing graphics and learning in a way that was completely new and actually fun. The un-chosen ones were sitting right next to the rope barrier. It was like a crowded theatre. They sat in the sun just watching with these longing faces. They were so hopeful that they were going to get a turn. It was tolerable for me because I know what is to come! They will soon be on the program themselves. Won't that be so cool?

Our next stop was out in Marin area. We did the same routine over with the kids having just as much wonder and excitement as the Street Kids. We are looking forward to developing our program further to bless the lives of as many as we can.

Thank you to all that are helping this dream become a reality!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thank you from a "first-timer"

I am having an amazing experience here in Haiti.  I have never been on a mission trip before and was very nervous about traveling to a third world country.  Our gracious hosts have definitely eased my fears and really made me feel at home!  It is great having someone who can direct and connect you to so many wonderful orphanages and centers that truly do hold the children of Haiti dear to their hearts.  I have been truely blessed to have been able to meet and interact with such wonderful people!  Thank you Rebecca and family for opening your home to us!!  May God Bless you and protect you!

Love you all!

Susan Mollnow

Friday, July 1, 2011

Two snap shots

As my team and I prepare to go home I wanted to reflect on two snap shots from the week.  The first snap shot and lesson I learned was from my favorite place in Haiti Mother Theresa's Home for the dying.  It was one of the first places I wanted to come back to when I heard I was getting the chance to go Haiti again.  We were on the way over and we were told we may not even be able to get in but when we arrived the gates opened right before us and we were welcomed in.  I went up into the room for women and walked into girls braiding each other's hair and going about living.  I sat down with a group of teenage girls and just talked and laughed with them.  They started singing a song I knew by Rihanna I sang along with them and we just laughed and laughed.  I could not believe that moments before I had been praying with a woman as a nurse was laying a sheet over the woman in the bed next to her  to declare that she had passed.  It was amazing for me to see that in the midst of all this death there was still life and joy.  We all have moments of pain and of fear of what is next, but with God's love we can live a life full of joy no matter what comes are way.

The second snap shot is seeing the FFCIN Mobile Reading Center in action.  It was amazing pulling up to Pascal's with the mobile reading center and seeing all the children running out to the truck because we were  an 1 1/2 late.  They wanted for 90 minutes to learn more English and Math.  I do not think as a child that I would wait 90 minutes to learn anything.  But these children love it.  They cannot get enough of it, even when we are trying to go they hand us papers to correct and try to keep us for a longer time.  It is going to be a great addition to FFCIN and it is a project that has so much more potential.

It was a great week in Haiti and my team and I left so much but are taking even more home to New York.