Thursday, March 6, 2014
Haiti Trip February 2014
This trip started with an interesting plane ride. On our way to Haiti we had a connection in Fort Lauderdale. As we were coming in to land the plan e all of a sudden took off again. After flying around for about 10 minutes the pilot told us that the flaps were not working which meant the landing would be fast and hard. He was worried about us blowing a tire and they told us how to brace for impact. Then we went down to land again and again took off. This time the pilot said we were coming in too fast and he needed to lighten the load so he went and dumped fuel. When we were coming in to land for the third time, everyone was praying. My dad, Mike Bertram lead a prayer for the plane and we miraculously landed OK! (I think God had something to do with that!) There were dozens of fire and rescue truck waiting for us on the ground which just confirmed how serious our situation was. Thank God for a safe landing! He had great plans for us on this trip!
We went to Haiti supporting one orphanage with 19 kids – we came home with three orphanages to support and 80 kids total! Here’s how.
On Monday, we went to help organize medical supplies for the TB and HIV clinic that is run by American doctors. We learned Haiti doesn’t want a TB clinic because then that means they have a TB problem (I know, great reasoning). Anyway, Dr. Coffee who runs the clinic has become a source of referrals for us as she deals with sick AIDS and TB patients. We wanted to help her out and get to know her a little better as she has taken care of our kids. That was our plan, however I think God had another plan as well. While helping organize the supplies at her base camp, we meet another American girl who was there visiting a child she supports as well as local orphanages. She told us about a couple orphanages with no constant support, not even enough for food. That was enough for us to want to visit these orphanages too.
Tuesday and Wednesday we visited these orphanages in the morning and spent time with the CHOIAIDS kids in the afternoon. The first has 35 kids, most between the ages of 5 and 12 however some older and some younger. It is a spacious area with plenty of bunk beds and a big outside courtyard to play. All the kids were all dressed in matching blue shirts or dresses with tan shorts that the wife had made. This orphanage is run by a couple with really no other help other than that of their daughter. Washing clothes and bed sheets and cooking and doing school…too much for two people to do. They were out of money for food for the month and also out of gas for their stove which left them to cook the rice they had left over the open fire causing much smoke. The kids were as all kids, so cute. They took pictures for us (seems all kids like to use electronics) and danced to the music we brought (I wish I had their moves).
The second orphanage we visited had 26 kids, 20 of them were under the age of 5. This orphanage also didn’t have any continuous support which means not enough food. Most of the kids were small, a couple 18month old little boys were the size of a small 7 month old and were not able to crawl or stand even with help because of the malnourishment. All the kids were quite, they didn’t have the typical energy of toddlers which is an effect of not having the right food. They would just sit our our laps and want to be held. It seems the couple running the orphanage were nice and loving with the kids but it is like growing up in a daycare, they don’t get all the attention they need. The couple that ran the orphanage said that they could feed the kids on $300 a month, however that is a basic diet of rice and beans and cornmeal, not proper nutrition. This orphanage really captured our hearts! We paid for food for them for the month and we also bought mattress for the beds (on many of the beds they only had blankets) along with a propane stove to make cooking easier and healthy than an indoor fire for them.
On Thursday after spending time with the kids we then went to judge the business plans of the s participants in the Personal Success and Business Planning workshop lead for three days by Jim Kackley from our team along with Pastor Renes (a local Pastor we work with and stay with while we are in Haiti. This workshop was a great success! Jim is a great teacher, he helped participants learn how to think through a business plan for themselves. This is important because going to get a job in Haiti is really hard as there are not many jobs so people have to think with an entrepreneurial mind. Pastor Renes wants to start an entrepreneurial center to help people succeed – this was the first step. Pastor Renes is planning on coming to Wisconsin this spring to work with Jim to set up curriculum for this new center. We are excited about this because it is a step to help Haiti get out of poverty and preventing some of the issues that come with poverty such as people having to take their kids to orphanages.
On Friday we celebrated Valentine’s day by taking two orphanages (the CHOAIDS orphanage and the new little orphanage) to the beach. Going to the beach is a huge deal for these kids who never get to go anywhere. It is great to see the CHOAIDS kids swimming better each year we go! The little kids were also very cute. Some of them were a little cautious and just enjoyed sitting on the edge and throwing rocks in. Some however loved going out in the water with us and would get the biggest smile on their face! For lunch we made hot dogs and smores – they loved them! Each kid probably had 2 or 3 hotdogs (we cooked 150) and a couple smores (we used 5 boxes of graham crackers and 4 bags of marshmallows)! Everyone was sleepy on the way back. Saying good bye that night was hard, especially with the CHOAIDS kids as they are older and understand more so they are all crying when we have to leave.
We come home with the kids on our hearts. We cannot see kids in such need and not help. We want to support these new orphanages too. In order to do so in the right way, we will need to raise more support as it will cost about $2000 a month to properly support them and provide the food and care they need.