Kathy Chartier:  My Trip to Haiti

Kathy Chartier: My Trip to Haiti

By Kathy Chartier

Saturday night, April 25th, I returned home from Gran Sous and slept in my own bed with my down pillow. In Gran Sous I slept in a bed, but in a mosquito tent with my coat for a pillow. A tarantula over my head the first night! Mosquitoes, 3 inch cockroaches and geckos in our room every night.

A symphony of animal sounds all night long – dogs barking, roosters crowing (it’s a myth that they only crow at daybreak!), goats bleating, cats meowing, I have never appreciated my bed so much!

Sunday morning I got up, turned on the faucet, and scooped coffee into the maker with tears in my eyes. In Gran Sous, a child takes the donkey or carries the bucket on their head down the steep, rocky path to the water project. Mama goes to the Friday market by foot or on a moto-taxi to buy the coffee beans. The elderly aunt grinds them by hand on the dusty ground with a big pan in her lap. Then it is cooked over a charcoal fire. The simple things we take so for granted,..

Now it is a week later, and I still think of the people of Gran Sous every day and dream about them every night. They have so little and need so much.

On a cold night in February Joanne Todd and I had dinner with Chad in Washington DC. Joanne had already committed to going to Gran Sous with Roots of Development and I wanted to hear more about it. We spoke for hours about Gran Sous; the people and their way of living, their struggles and their needs. Chad told us about the clean water project, the houses rebuilt after the hurricane, the clinic, the food that Roots supplied after the earthquake. Then we talked about the upcoming trip, the midwife project and the women’s group and their need for microenterprise loans. Helping people, especially women, to help themselves make their lives better has long been a passion of mine. I’ve seen microenterprise successes through the World Council of Credit Unions in Philippines, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador,
How could I not go to Haiti with Roots of Development?

Lucky for me, Chad was not able to find an engineer and I was able to take that spot. Even luckier for Roots, Chad found Geoffrey, our engineer just days before the trip.

We arrived in Gran Sous on April 17. The first couple of days were full of surprises. First was learning that our driver was shot in Port of Prince an hour before we landed. He is still in the hospital. Second was that the bay was so rough when we crossed by ferry that I thought we were going to sink. Third was that 13 people and all of their luggage could fit in the back of a pickup truck and travel over dirt and rock paths not fit to call roads for two hours without killing anyone! Fourth was the tarantula over my bed in the middle of the night. I wanted adventure and a little fear and I sure got it! If I could have gone home that second day, I still wonder if I would have.

As the week progressed, the spirit of the people with how little they have and how much Roots of Development has been able to do to help them were the greatest surprises of all.

Simple things we take so for granted; clean, safe drinking water, a health clinic, a roof over our head, sanitary bathroom facilities, tools to complete a job, food in our bellies – wouldn’t be possible for so many without Roots of Development.

Visiting Louis and his family, in his house funded by Roots and built by the committee, hearing about the food he received after the earthquake, seeing his new born son presented to Chad to name, then holding that child, will be burned in my heart and memory forever.

Meeting with the women, hearing their problems, achievements and hopes and dreams; seeing young adults practicing their English aspiring to come to the US and wondering what opportunities the future holds for them; seeing young children and teens learning on benches in churches and classrooms with few books or school supplies. Living with the people is so much different than watching a news segment on tv or reading an article in the paper. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

I will be forever grateful for a young man with a dream to improve the lives of the people in a community, in a country that he has grown to love. Thank you Chad, the world needs more young people like you.

And thank you to every one associated with Roots of Development for all your efforts for Haiti and the opportunity to share in your good works. Joanne and I believe that we will be able to help the people of Gran Sous with financial education and microenterprise loans. We have already started to make connections.

I look forward to a long relationship with Roots of Development.

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