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Haiti Service Trip 2018

 

Gwynedd girls arrived in Haiti on Friday, March 30. They will spend this week working with Mercy Beyond Borders as they journey to various parts of the countryside to provide service to those in need. 

Reflections

Arrival Day and Day Two - Travel Day

Today, March 31, our group traveled from Port-Au-Prince to Gros Morne. While driving, we were touched by the welcoming spirits of the community. While we may be strangers, we feel welcomed with open arms by every persons we meet. We felt the mercy spirit through our travels today. As an example, while driving a little girl was waving and blowing us kisses. She was so genuinely excited to see us, and ran to get her family. 

When we arrived in Gros Morne, the beauty of the nature overwhelmed us. We walked up to the roof of our house and watched the sunset and star-gazed. Without the bright lights of the busy cities, the stars seemed so clear and bright. The view was indescribable. We truly felt God's presence around us through the beauty of nature that He has given us.

- Allison and Kennedy 

Day Three - Easter

My dad once told me something he thought of after seeing the mountains in Virginia: "How could someone not believe in God?"  Here in Haiti the mountains go on forever, creating an endless range of green and brown.  During our hike this morning I was able to physically make my way closer to God and take in His creation.  Once at the top, we all took a couple minutes of silence to really enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the view.  It was amazing to see how all of us as a group could come together and experience something so serene. 

Even though I noticed mercy during Easter mass in Creole and playing soccer with the locals, I was overwhelmed with mercy as I gazed over the mountains thinking to myself, "How could anyone not believe in God?"

-Steph Ierardi

Day Four

Today, we learned just how powerful and resilient women are, and how words are not always needed to convey feelings. The main focus was to visit the women who are part of the CLM program, a project that helped women to become empowered as they begin to climb up the different levels of poverty.

We traveled a bumpy road outside the city to meet some of the women in the group and to hear their stories. These women were halfway through their 18-month program. The first woman we met was named Angelina, and her smile was incredibly bright as she explained to us that the program changed her. Previously she has been ignored in her community, but with the guidance of the program, she no longer felt useless. Though we had to use a translator to understand each other, the smile on her face conveyed just how powerful and confident she had become in just 9 months. We all felt the power of her words and were humbled to learn about how happy she was to have her status begin to advance.

When we asked the larger group of women about their Easter, all of them responded with beaming smiles, explaining that because of Jesus everything was good. The unfailing faith of these women was beyond inspiring. Their gratitude to God was visible and exemplified that faith has no language. God is present everywhere, beyond the language barrier. Haiti has changed our lives forever and will continue to remind us that nothing God has given us should be taken for granted, no matter what.

-Emma Palermo and Sarah McLaughlin

Day Five

A mercy moment...

Strength. This is the first word we think of when we think of the women we have met this week in Haiti. Each day we are continually surprised by the courageous and determined women who work tirelessly to provide for their families. Today, we visited a small village in Gros Morne where we met the families who had received chatados, 500 gallon tanks which collect rain water through a pipe system. This relieves the Haitian families from the burden of walking to wells or rivers three to four times a day to collect water for their families.

While we have seen mercy in every Haitian we've had the blessing of encountering, one woman truly embodied God's love and dedication. Before receiving the chatado she had to walk down the village to a well where she waited in the heat just to receive one bucket of water for her family and loved ones. She had to repeat this hour long process sometimes three times daily. Now with the chatado, she is able to spend more time with her family and is generous enough to share the water in the chatado with her neighbors, who still had to make the trip to collect water every day.

Along with the responsibility of having to get the water she also has to take care of her husband who had become blind after having a stroke. Throughout all of the hardships the woman remained a pillar of hope and love for her family and her community. She feels so grateful to have been blessed with this gift which truly changed her life. 

~Bridget Lee and Kailyn Diamond

Day Six

Yesterday we visited Lekol Jezi Mari school and talked to 4 women in the Fanmlbo Women's group. These women showed us their devotion and hard work ethic by sharing the history of their embroidery business. 3 women started this organization by dedicating 4 years of their lives to learn the craft and took this skill to share with the 11 other women in the group. For 20 years, they have been working tirelessly making embroidered designs. These are the women who made the embroidered mercy shields that were sold last December at Gwynedd. This day, we gifted these ladies a framed poem written by Emily Dorr '18 and last years' Gwynedd girls that captured their story.  They thanked us with loving hugs to show their heartfelt appreciation.

We found that these women live their lives guided by mercy. The countless hours they devoted to making the shields for us demonstrates their love and selflessness. After telling us about their works, they disclosed that one of their older members had passed away the previous night. Even in their time of suffering, these women still had the heart to take time out of their day for us. This truly shows the compassionate and welcoming nature of the Haitian people. 

~Abby Roberts and Gabby Saxon

Day 7

As Gwynedd Girls, we have learned that mercy serves as a foundation of all relationships among the members of the Gwynedd community.  What we realized today, however, is that this mercy connection extends far beyond just Gwynedd Valley.  We had the opportunity to meet students from Mercy Beyond Borders, a Mercy High School based in Gros Morne, Haiti.  Immediately upon meeting them, we felt drawn to one another in a way that is truly indescribable.  Although we didn't speak the same language, we were able to bond and enjoy one another's company.  As we danced, laughed, and sang, it was as if no language barrier existed.  Mercy brought us together, more than any language ever could.  As Sister Dale of Mercy Focus on Haiti later noted, we have Catherine McCauley to thank for this worldwide mercy connection. 

- Elizabeth Hasson and Elyse Landry