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Roma Wish Mission Haiti Daily Blog

POSTED BY ROMA MOULDING 5 YEARS AGO - 58 Comments

From November 5th to 10th, seven Roma Team Members left the comforts of home to volunteer at the Hands Across The Sea – Haiti (HATS) as part of Roma Wish Mission Haiti. HATS features children’s home, a school from preschool to grade 10 with over 400 children, and an outreach ministry to families in the surrounding communities. Our Roma Team Members are there to support any way we can. Below is a blog detailing their journey.

Day One

By Tony Gareri

Pictures from Roma Wish Mission Haiti.

Pictures from Roma Wish Mission Haiti.

Today’s journey began in the Miami International Airport, where the team boarded a plane at 6:30am destined to Port Au Prince, Haiti. The journey took just shy of one-and-a-half hours with relatively no turbulence and smooth air. Flying into Haiti was truly remarkable, with lush greenery and miles of mountains meeting crystal blue Caribbean waters; the scenery was truly breathtaking.

Driving from the airport in Port Au Prince to the HATS home base.

Driving from the airport in Port Au Prince to the HATS home base.

Upon landing, the Haitian people greeted us with warm welcomes and songs adding to the special charm. Once through customs, which was super simple, we made our way to the baggage claim and that’s when we started to feel something very different. After a challenging 25 minutes, we got all our bags and met with Karen, the wonderful mission leader of HATS who came to greet us. Karen was so welcoming and warm right off the bat, but quickly switched to Haitian mode by instructing the baggage handlers to stay away from us. From there we got into a truck and off we went!

Pictures taken while driving from Port Au Prince to Deschappelles, Haiti.

Pictures taken while driving from Port Au Prince to Deschappelles, Haiti.

Driving from the airport, down the coast and into the Haitian valley was mind blowing. Growing up, we have been given a glimpse into what poverty looks like through TV infomercials like World Vision but seeing it first hand is truly another experience. From broken down cars, ram shackled homes, to groups of people selling, yelling and trying to make a dollar; words cannot describe the experience but the pictures will help!

A view of the Haitian countryside.

A view of the Haitian countryside.

After a two-and-a-half hour drive, we finally made it to the HATS home base, where we were welcomed with open arms, children’s laughter and smiles! Karen, along with her friends Keith and Joan warmly greeted us and took us on the grand tour of the HATS home base. Joan and Keith proceeded to give us an overview of the week including our work tasks. Remarkably, we dropped our stuff, got into teams and quickly began working away; from painting and screening to bench building and caulking. After a few hours and a bench later, we were able to shift our focus to spending quality time with the children of the orphanage. The time spent with the children was the most rewarding for us all. We look forward to getting to know them better while sharing more fun times together!

Roma Moulding CEO Tony Gareri with a young Haitian girl.

Roma Moulding CEO Tony Gareri with a young Haitian girl.

At 6:30pm, the temperature cooled to 28 degrees and Germain, the mission cook, made a beautiful Haitian chicken and rice dinner! Dinnertime was special as we reflected on our long journey, recapping what we experienced and how it made us feel. While writing this blog and reflecting on what we’ve experienced thus far, I can’t but help be filled with joy, happiness and gratitude. This is day one –we look forward to what tomorrow brings!

For more pictures, please check out our Roma In Action board on Pinterest.

Day Two

By Rich Huisman

Well hello everyone! Rich here letting you know that today was a fantastic day!

Tony Gareri building a bench with Roma Wish Team member Isaiah.

Tony Gareri building a bench with Roma Wish Team member Isaiah.

We woke up to the sound of sweet music and the birds singing. Well, not exactly. It was more like 500 roosters having a competition of who could yell the loudest at each other. The only consolation is that we all had over 10 hours of sleep because we were in bed at 8:30pm, exhausted from the day before.

Tania caring for a young Haitian girl at HATS home base.

Tania caring for a young Haitian girl at HATS home base.

After a great breakfast, we had an amazing time at devotions with all the kids and staff. It was special to see our team singing and enjoying themselves and I think Al started to break into some sort of southern gospel dance.

After that it was back to work. Tony, Isaiah, GG, Moes and myself worked on benches, while Al and Paul continued working on their screen project. Actually, were not sure what they’re working on but they promise it’s going to be amazing. Tania and Cams continued to paint the girls kitchen although they needed my services to help. To be honest, I think they just required my height but we’re all ready to help out wherever needed. Joan and Keith are amazing and continue to help out everywhere. Thanks to them for adding so much value to HATS.

Haitian children at the HATS home base in Deschappelles.

Haitian children at the HATS home base in Deschappelles.

Roma Team members playing soccer with local children.

Roma Team members playing soccer with local children.

The best part of the day was when the boys asked us to join them after work for an epic soccer game. It was the blancs, that’s creole for whites with some of the kids from HATS, against the neighborhood kids. The pitch we played on was amazing! Filled with rocks and I mean a ton of rocks and stones. We were all amazed that the boys from the neighborhood actually played in bare feet – unbelievable! The crossbars were made of bamboo and the field was surrounded with concrete walls, which we could play the ball off.

A young Haitian girl colors in an activity book at the HATS home base.

A young Haitian girl colors in an activity book at the HATS home base.

Unfortunately, we lost an epic battle 6-5 in Haitian overtime, which I think means when they are up, we stop playing. It was great but we would have had a little more fun if we had more Haitians on our team. Those kids are amazing! I’m going to try and smuggle one home and put him on our local rep team – just kidding. Please pray for us because they’ve asked for a blancs vs. Haitian game after church on Sunday. We are in serious trouble!

Paul and Kevin topped off the day with a thrilling ride to Luckner’s, which I’m sure they will chat about tomorrow. Good night from this wonderful place called HATS!

For more pictures, please check out our Roma In Action board on Pinterest.

Day Three

By Kevin Saychareun

Kevin here. It’s Day 3 in Deschapelles, Haiti.

It’s really, really hot right now.

The thing about the weather here is, you are never dry. Even fresh out of the shower, your skin starts clamming up immediately and your fresh clothes are already slightly soaked through with sweat. The Haitian sun is brutal and the humidity is pretty hardcore. It’s actually pretty funny- it’s “cold” in Haiti right now. Some of the kids are wearing sweaters.

Kevin, Roma's Video Samurai is very hot in Haiti!

Kevin, Roma’s Video Samurai is very hot in Haiti!

I’ll be honest – I’ve been off the grid completely for the past few days. I was the only chump who left his iPhone at home. So no music, no internet- nothing. I refuse to even look at the blogs until I get home- so I’m going to try to give my own perspective here, I’m trying to avoid regurgitating what the previous guys have written about.

There’s a difference to your own experience when there’s a camera between yourself and the subject. It sort’ve separates you from the kids and the activities a little. So the struggle is – do I get the shot? Or open myself up to the experience? I guess the answer lays in between, because the unique opportunity I get, is to experience it again when I’m editing this documentary. And when the documentary is done, I get to share the experience with you. So, fair trade.

But Haiti is beautiful, and yes, a bit dangerous but also beautiful. The kids are precious and they’re so fascinated by my camera and the GoPro I’ve been using – they aren’t used to the technology at all. In fact they rarely have electricity. So being off the grid, no internet, no phone has been an amazing experience (although I’m typing on a computer right now). As much as I love technology (which has allowed me to pursue my passion of filmmaking), It’s been a very special opportunity to film these children in a genuine and natural environment where they are not used to being on camera all the time.

So I’ve been told that I have 30 minutes to write this blog. Being the video guy, I decided to do something a little different. Here’s a preview of this video.

Excuse the rough audio and the unfinished clips. This is just a teaser.

See you back home guys.

Roma Moulding – Haiti Teaser from Roma Moulding on Vimeo.

Day Four

By Tania Santana and Camilla Brown

Hello everyone!

Roma's Camilla loves being part of the Haitian girl power.

Roma’s Camilla loves being part of the Haitian girl power.

It’s Camilla and Tania here – the only two women on this amazing journey. Well, we may be the only women on the trip from Roma but what’s most awesome about this wonderful place is that most of it is run by women! Girl power!

HATS Haiti founder Karen has created something truly special.

HATS Haiti founder Karen has created something truly special.

Karen Huxter is an incredible, energizer bunny and such an inspiring person who, 20 years ago started HATS and now oversees 16 orphans and 430 kids in a school she started. Wow! Besides the men that keep the compound secure, the rest of the staff are primarily women who take of the kids, cook, clean and do the laundry by hand. Their work here is more than just a job – they care for these children with as much love as a mother would with her own child.

Roma Wish in Deschappelles observing Haitian girl power.

Roma Wish in Deschappelles observing Haitian girl power.

Camilla:
The House Mothers here at HATS seem to be incredibly strong, both physically and emotionally. As a mother of three, when I see these ladies taking care of 16 kids, it makes me think how easy my weekly trek to Costco with my three little ones really is.

Tania:
Coming from a single woman’s perspective, and not having to worry about anyone but myself (and my dog), it’s almost mind-blowing how easily I transitioned into temporary “motherhood.” Loving 16 children at once is possible, and it gives me food for thought about becoming a full-time mother one day.

A young Haitian girl in Deschappelles.

A young Haitian girl in Deschappelles.

The experience here has surpassed even our wildest expectations of what we could have ever imagined. It has opened our eyes and our hearts to the real meaning of the word love. Love is more than just an emotion and a word – it is an action. We are fortunate and blessed to have been part of this terrific experience. We’ve not only bonded with these beautiful children and incredible people here in this little piece of heaven, we’ve also found this sisterhood that has forever bonded us as Haiti Sisters!

For more pictures, please check out our Roma In Action board on Pinterest.

Day Five

By Al Cherpak

Sunday's a truly special at HATS in Haiti.

Sunday’s a truly special at HATS in Haiti.

Sunday’s here at HATS start out much different than other mornings and a lot like North American Sunday morning. We all slept-in late (well 6:15am, anyways), followed by a good cup of coffee, pancake and fresh fruit breakfast, leisurely conversation then getting ready for a 9:30am church service. The children started showing up for church around 8:30am and they all looked amazing! Dress shoes and shirts, slacks, ties, dresses, frilly socks adorned happy and smiling faces. These girls and boys clearly like to get spruced up and spending time with the Lord.

Haitian children getting ready for church.

Haitian children getting ready for church.

Sunday worship with everyone in their Sunday best.

Sunday worship with everyone in their Sunday best.

We took a quick walk over to the church carrying drums, tambourines and snacks and met many more children and some adults from the neighborhood. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best and looked really excited about the opportunity to worship. The service was over two hours of praiseful singing accompanied by drum banging and tambourine smacking. All this wrapped around open prayers, a bible based sermon and even included a little half-time water break! On the way out, all the little ones got treats of cookies, Haitian style Cheetos and a cold drink, which helped to keep the happiness flowing!

A Haitian boy getting his treat after Sunday church service.

A Haitian boy getting his treat after Sunday church service.

Next was the big Canada versus Haiti soccer match which would have been a lot better for both players and spectators if it was held in a nice, air conditioned stadium. However it’s soccer in Haiti so everyone just dealt with the balmy conditions. Although the Canadians had size, equipment and experience on their side they were no match for the younger and more agile Haitians and a 2-2 halftime score ended in a 5-2 win for Team Haiti. It was really about good friendly competition but we’re sure that Team Haiti is going to enjoy the bragging rights they get until the rematch. It’s OK because they earned it.

Tony Gareri lines up a shot in the Canada vs. Haiti soccer game!

Tony Gareri lines up a shot in the Canada vs. Haiti soccer game!

After a little cooling off time, we all sat down for a great spaghetti lunch (the Italians couldn’t go a week without a little pasta and tomatoes), followed by a couple hours of chill and refresh time. Again, this was a lot like a Sunday in North America minus the couch, TV and remote control. Since this is Haiti, we had another soccer match between the younger boys and girls that ended in a 4-2 score for the future men of Haiti. Closing out the day was a great group picture that included all the visitors and everyone from HATS followed by an amazing chicken legs, coleslaw with beans and rice for dinner.

A group photo with the Roma Wish and HATS teams.

A group photo with the Roma Wish and HATS teams.

This is our last day here and although we’re all anxious about getting home and seeing our loved ones, we’ll cherish the relationships we’ve built for years to come. This place is awesome. The kids are amazing and Karen Huxter is an angel taking care of God’s children. We look forward to staying in touch with the people of HATS and seeing the progress they make in helping Haiti to a better tomorrow.

For more pictures, please check out our Roma In Action board on Pinterest.

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