Thursday, July 12, 2012

Haiti Day 2 afternoon (July 3)

After lunch on day 2, we took a walk through St. Louis de Nord to help out with NWHCM's prison and brothel ministries.

When blancs like us walked through the streets, the Haitian children were always eager to come out, give us a hug, hold our hands and escort us to our destination.  Some of them tried to sell bracelets to us, but some of them were just sweet and wanted to be near us.  I liked having the kids hold my hand.  They were good at making sure I got out of the way when a moto (motorcycle)or a truck was headed straight toward us!

I have a a feeling this phrase is going to come up a lot as I write these blog posts:  "I really wanted to take a picture of this, but..."  There was so much that I wanted to photograph:  so many beautiful people, so much that is different from life in America, so many interesting photo opportunities.  But I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked for a few reasons: 
  1. We were busy while we were there, and we usually had a child or two attached to us.  It was hard to stop working with the kids or the people just to take pictures. 
  2. I felt really, really guilty taking pictures of the private lives of these Haitian people to bring them back to America and put them on display for all to see.  On the one hand, I do want to come back from my trip and share what I learned about Haiti.  But on the other hand, it just didn't seem right to just stand around gawking and taking pictures of the poverty surrounding us...especially with the knowledge that I would bring the photos back and flaunt them on Facebook.
  3. When we were on the streets, everyone stared at us everywhere we went.  I felt really self-conscious pulling out my big camera and taking pictures with so many eyes on me!
So with that in mind, here are a few pictures of the streets we walked through:

Our first stop was the jail.  This was a small jail that served as a holding cell until the prisoners were moved to the bigger prison in Port du Paix.  We went in and talked to the prisoners through a translator and prayed with them.

The justice system in Haiti is far from just.  They do not have an "innocent until proven guilty" stance like here.  The accused are sent to prison when they get accused.  Then they stay in prison until they are seen before a judge.  But sometimes it can take years for them to get a hearing with a judge, and they are kept in prison that whole time.

The jail and the brothels were located near each other and near the beach.  Haiti really is a beautiful country.  The ocean, the mountains, the vegetation...all gorgeous!  But there is a lot of trash in Haiti and no system to dispose of it, so trash is everywhere.  Here is a picture of the trash covered beach.  It was common to see pigs and goats going through the trash on the beach.

After the jail, we went to two brothels.  Believe it or not, this was my first time to go to a brothel!  =)  The first one was a little scary because they led us all the way through the brothel, down a narrow hallway filled with rooms where the girls "worked."  It was a little strange, and according to our intern, it was not the norm.  They eventually led us back down the hallway into the main room and introduced us to two of the women who worked at the brothel.  These women were quiet and sad, and it was hard to tell what they thought of us being there.  We prayed with them and gave them some nail polish and Jolly Ranchers. 

Once we started passing things out, we quickly drew a crowd of both adults and children...all with their hands out!  Many of them walked with us to the next brothel nearby, and it got kind of crazy.  At this brothel, there were more women as well as children too.  The women who work at the brothel live there with their children.  Seeing the children there was the hardest part for me.  I just cannot imagine what life will be like for them growing up in such a place.  Will those little baby girls become future employees? 

Again, we prayed with them and passed out Jolly Ranchers.  Jody asked one of the women if her little girl could have a Jolly Rancher, and the woman replied, "She's hungry."  Like a Jolly Rancher is going to do anything to help her hunger.  I felt so helpless at that point, passing out candy to kids and women who were possibly starving and in need of so much more.

One of the purposes of our visit to the brothels was to invite the women to a Princess Party that the Mission was hosting on Saturday night.  We were not able to go to the party because we had left by then, but I hope that many of these women attended and learned how precious they are in God's eyes.

After returning from our jail and brothel visits, we soon headed back into the city on foot to participate in the mission's nutrition program.  Each day, the mission serves a meal to families and children from the town.  They also have a Meals on Wheels type of program (except there are no wheels involved, only footpower!) to deliver meals to the elderly who can't make it to the program.  The mission is at the top of this large hill, and it is difficult for some to travel there for food.  So the mission brings the food to them!

 We took a big bucket of rice and beans, which seems to be the most common food in this part of Haiti, and walked the streets with it. 
 We stopped at the homes of these elderly people and scooped the food out into their bowls and prayed with them.  We ended up doing this with another team of people, so there were about 25 of us and one bucket of food.  They really didn't need our team's help on this task, but we went along for the experience.  Walking the streets was always an interesting and eye-opening experience!

We had dinner and devos that evening, and that was the end of Day 2!


Elisabeth said...

a lot of Haitians believe that if u take a picture of them u are capturing their soul. or i should say the voodoo Haitians. when we went to the voodoo capital we were told to keep our cameras completely out of sight!

i am jealous u got to go to the brothel! i really wanted to go to experience that and speak with the women, as well as listen to their stories, but when i went the brothel mission was JUST starting so no one but melonnie could go. it's such a good thing that she and the others are doing there at the brothels!!
the jail i have been to tho. and the jail in port de paix we helped rebuild after the rebels tried to overthrow the govt. in 2004 i think it was.

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