By: Joe Pate, VFP Volunteer to Haiti 2012
The entire experience was simply amazing. Every individual I encountered–from our volunteer group, to our hosts, to the locals–were friendly, welcoming, interesting, giving, and good hearted people. During our many walks into neighboring towns it wouldn’t take long for others to share a smile, wave a hand, or even walk alongside us and visit. While at the schools the kids lit up their classrooms with their smiles and laughter. The moments spent during meals and group activities were engaging, lighthearted and very seldom dull. Not once during my stay in Haiti did I feel I needed or wanted to be anywhere else but exactly where I was in that moment.
The morning was a time to share our own stories or listen to the stories of the locals who were with us. We also took this time to go over the plans for the day in regards to where we would be going and what everyone would be doing. Generally, most of the mornings were spent together as a group.
Examples of afternoon activities include working in the garden, going into the schools, staying with our hosts to help in the kitchen to prepare our evening meal, cleaning up the grounds of where we were staying, traveling to the market, and completing fence repairs and installation. It was great to work alongside the people of Haiti; a chance to learn and teach.
We would end our day with a large, inclusive gathering of people for dinner. These meals had us eating rice, beans, corn, cabbage salad, beet salad, chicken, goat, and plantains. After eating we would simply relax and enjoy each other’s company. Some nights included music, such as when a local band came to play as a way to celebrate our group leader’s birthday. We would also engage in games, team building activities, and cultural exchanges. We often received impromptu lessons in the local language and reciprocated by giving lessons or our own. It was a pleasure to hear the many stories shared by our hosts, visitors, and fellow volunteers.
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