Haiti – Part One

What an incredible experience.  I spent 9 days in Haiti on the initial stages of our efforts to re-build an orphanage that we have become affiliated with.  QUBE | INC along with The NayaSophia Foundation (www.nayasophiafoundation.org) aims to re-build/build this small orphanage that currently supports 12 children.

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As I stepped off the plane, it was clear to me instantly, this is a land forgotten.  Almost 3 years since the devastating 2012 earthquake, little has been done in terms of rebuilding.  International funds are only now being slowly released.  As I was driven by a local, along with my mother-in-law, Galina (a Toronto dentist that has been going to Haiti since the quake and the founding member of The NayaSophia Foundation), the sites, sounds and smells around me were all new.  Burning garbage is the dominant smell.  They burn all their garbage, no matter it’s composition, emitting a smell that is constantly changing and thus you are unable to habituate to it.  We arrived at the orphanage, Galina prepared me, that the children of the orphanage will have something special prepared for their arrival.  As we entered the grounds, they were all standing there together, dressed in their finest clothes, girls with beautiful bright red ribbons in their hair, and they began sing, a song they wrote, a harmony in French and English, their voices ran through me and sent a mix of chills and comfort.  The excitement in their voices was unmistakable.  This was going to be an experience of a lifetime.

The first night was an adjustment to say the least.  Looking at these children, many the same age as my own, made it all too real.  I missed my kids.  With no electricity, darkness fell with the sun.  Where am I? Felt like a parallel universe.  We unpacked our necessities, our sleeping bags and lay in the dark.  Couldn’t have even been 8pm.

In the morning I woke up to the strong smell of dried fish cooking in a coal fire.  Breakfast.  As my wife will attest, I am a picky eater. This was especially a challenge for me.  Knowing that the food they were serving, was specially prepared for us, food they don’t normally have the pleasure of eating, made it impossible to reject.

The foundation has set up a free dental clinic just outside of Port-au-Prince.  Part of my reason for going to Haiti was also to assist Galina in her dental goals.  Yes, I was a dental assistant for a week.

So off we went to the clinic to set up for the following day.  Set up takes quite awhile as we are sharing space with a medical clinic and must pack away everything when we are not there.  When we get there, we find out that the generator the foundation purchased had been used by the local medical clinic and manipulated and subsequently broken.  Not a great start.  With unreliable electricity, we could not work without the generator.  So we called a local electrician and the wait began.

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