Monday, July 25, 2016 - Day Three - Missionaries of Charity Orphanage, Papillon Enterprise, Visit with Lavarice Gaudin of the What If? Foundation
De La Salle High School student Ari Eckhaus reports:
To begin our day we checked out of the Eucalyptus guest house. This was difficult for us all because of the relationships we had formed especially most of us kids who had a very informative conversation with one of the house worker named Caleb.
After leaving Eucalyptus we traveled to the Missionaries of Charity Orphanage located in Port-au-Prince. We were greeted at the orphanage by mothers who were begging for us to take their children into the establishment. My understanding is that some Haitians use this orphanage as a daycare where their kids can be taken care of. Others leave their kids in the orphanage more permanently but the parents visit the kids quite frequently. When we walked into the orphanage we found about 20 children varying from newborn to 4 years old, and all in varying states of mind and health. Some children were up and about walking around with smiles on their faces and seemed relatively healthy. While others were so malnourished that they were confined to their cribs and unable to walk. Many of us interacted with the children who looked more sickly until the sadness and guilt forced us to move on and enjoy the cheerful presence of the other children. We played, held, and even helped feed the children for about an hour. When that time had passed we were faced with the difficult task of leaving the kids back in their cribs. Most children cried, screamed, and even crawled and walked after us as we left the room their cribs were in.
Following the heavy mental baggage of the orphanage we tried to lighten our spirits by eating a traditional US-American lunch of pizza and burgers at an organization called Papillon Enterprise. Papillon is an NGO that works on giving jobs to Haitian parents to keep their children out of orphanages (perhaps the very same one we had visited earlier in the morning) by providing them with the means for a livelihood. We toured the workspace at Papillon seeing the way that the Haitian artisans worked like a well oiled machine to produce clay, paper, and glass beads for jewelry as well as pottery pieces.
Following the tour of Papillon and a quick shopping spree we returned to Shalom (the (Megachurch whose service we had attended the day before) to meet a man named Lavarice Gaudin who with much help from Saint Mary’s donations runs a program to feed hungry citizens in the poor neighborhood surrounding the megachurch (he is not affiliated with the megachurch). Lavarice, along with the US based What If? Foundation also has created a beautiful school called the Father Jeri school. We were given a tour of Lavarice’s school and listened to him share his political views about what Haiti must do to improve its living conditions for its people. Lavarice also shared his thoughts on Shalom. Rather surprisingly after 8 years of working within 50 feet of each other Shalom and Lavarice’s organization don't get along particularly well.
When we had said our goodbyes to Lavarice, we loaded back into the van and headed back to our new guest house the Wall's Guest House (the name is after the people who run the house). After a large dinner. We had a group discussion on the day. Many of us agreed that the hardest part was leaving the wailing kids at the orphanage. We concurred that we had abandoned them in a similar way that their parents had, making many of us feel guilty, and sad. We continue to reflect on the questions are we doing more harm than good and why are we in Haiti. We also talked about the pros and cons of Papillon and the ways that we feel it is more tourist oriented then it should be. Finally, we discussed our thoughts on Lavarice and his school with many of us brainstorming ways that we can continue to help his school grow. All in all we agreed that today was the most emotionally complex day in Haiti thus far.