Our team is the last to be stationed in Jacmel before GVN’s restructuring based on most recent needs of the country. With the Cholera outbreak in Haiti, priority of activities will slightly (or dramatically) change. There is much to accomplish. In the mindset that all goes as currently planned and well, here is how my 8 days in Jacmel will be spent:
1. Working with children in orphanages
A sense of how I am feeling: 40% grateful, 40% eager, 20% nervous. Nervousness isn’t necessarily a bad feeling. Being nervous is an emotion I see that exemplifies caring, in the context of wondering about a future outcome. As recently mentioned by a mentor figure, “Have the butterflies in your stomach fly directionally in unison vs. flying direction-less individually”.
Thinking about what many of these children may have seen and experienced makes anyone with a heart emotional. Psychological and physical experiences I could not even imagine having at any age in my life. There will be a language barrier so the depth of connection is limited regardless of local translators being present. Only so much could be asked without triggering memories, knowing how innocently vivid children’ responses are to what comes off to be the most basic questions.
a. I am beyond ecstatic to work with children on a creative level. Art is truly a universal language. The gift of being able to communicate with people of different backgrounds on a visual level is a blessing.
With the necessity of sanitary lifestyle, clothing is of importance. Many children/families we will be in contact with do not have the luxury of owning multiple garments. Carrying out a creative exercise with the longevity of the medium in mind is key. Coloring in a notebook or on a single sheet of paper can be thought-provoking but thinking about its life after the moment isn’t as promising in an ever changing living situation. How do you protect paper from the weather? Is there a place or room to store the art work with care?
A workshop we will be working on with the children is the “Happy T” project. The youth will be asked, “What makes them most happy? What makes you smile?”. After sharing stories and brainstorming, the youth (with the support of volunteers) will portray their thoughts on their own white cotton T-shirt with Crayola fabric and Sharpie markers. The thought of the selection of colors, composition of drawings and actual imagery on the T-shirt excites me. Even to think about the scale one child draws at vs another child speaks individuality. Seeing different artistic interpretations of a common icon, such as the sun or water, intrigues me. Childhood imagination is irreplaceable.
I have proposed this project in the hopes of a positive feeling arising every time a child wears their T-shirt. A feeling of hope, happiness and something to look forward to. A T-shirt could have a long life that touches generations of family and friends. Oral tradition becomes an element in a piece that has the perk of living longer.
It’s easy to create a strong bond with children in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, my time in Haiti will be short but hopefully the T-shirts hold inspirational memories of good times.
T-shirts sitting in a warehouse that were considered valueless because of slight stitch defects are now clothing 50 children in Haiti. A special thank you to Reebok for donating 50 T-shirts for the project! Much thanks Mary Ellen Carney for being so helpful and enthusiastic upon approach.
b. Extracurricular activities and learning exercises of different kinds will take place day to day. Our schedules will be determined upon arrival, orientation day.
2. Distributing medical supplies and educating the community on Cholera
The Cholera situation in Haiti has definitely shifted attention on how volunteers’ time in Haiti will be spent. The main donations asked for in the past two weeks relate to cholera treatment supplies which we’ll be using in our GVN programs and passing onto other organizations. Here is a list of what is needed if you are looking to donate:
a. Oral re-hydration salts
c. Hand sanitizer
d. Dropper bottles
e. Clorox bleach (in some portable form)
f. Enfamil powder formula
g. Toys for children aged between 3-16 (roughly 45 female, 35 male children)
3. Cleaning and constructing
As of now, we will be helping to construct orphanages and cleaning. Similar to extracurricular activities, our schedule will be presented to us during orientation.
Much to look forward to.