Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Coyle & Bower Family Trip Day 3 (Sweet Home Orphanage, Rebuild Globally, Gertrude's Orphanage)

Today our team went to two orphanages and one non-profit organization. Because my mom has been to Haiti many times before, and I have been there once, I came into this trip believing I knew what to expect. I have never been more wrong. The two orphanages we went to were opposites on so many levels that it was difficult to look at each one and not compare. I will go into each one, but I feel like it was important for our team to go to each one and see the different conditions, and I feel like they prepared us for the rest of the week.

Sweet Home Orphanage is by far the nicest orphanage I have ever been to in Haiti. The rooms had air conditioning, they had a grassy area to play, they were adding on to the compound, and they had a little pergola area that was shaded for different games. I feel like it was the stereotypical orphanage in the sense that they were all cute. You wanted to hold them all and you felt very comfortable. As my mom put it, the day was like a rubber band being progressively stretched more and more as the day went on, and we started with a very loose rubber band. There was one kid who stood out to me and a few other people on my team and that was Zach, or Zach Attack. He was such a cute little boy and you could tell he was taking it all in. He was constantly moving and looking at his surroundings, which did complicate things a bit when you were holding him. He was young and could not walk. Zach also had a lung issue and had been hospitalized many times. I felt so bad that he, at such a young age, had already gone through so much and there was only more to come for him as he grew up so I spent most of that visit loving up little Zach.

Rebuild Globally was the organization we visited and it was such a cool place. They made shoes, bags and jewelry out of recycled leather, tires and tire tubes. It was really cool to see all of the people they had employed and how they had impacted their lives. They had not only provided these Haitians an income but had taught them a trade and that will serve them well in the future. Laura, our guide, said that there hope was to double the amount of employees by the end of 2017 so they could increase their productions. Rebuild Globally's main sales are in Orlando, Florida where they have somewhere to sell their items, but otherwise they have people in the US working on sales and you can see them at different pop-up stores. It was really cool to see how these people were impacting the lives of these Haitians. 

Finally, we went to Gertrude's. This was where our rubber bands got pulled hard. We got to Gertrude's at 2:00 only to learn that we were an hour early; the kids had their rest time at 2:00, not 1:00. So we were faced with the choice of going to the Guest House and then coming back later, or going to Fleuri Farms for a tour. Majority chose to come back later so we went back the Guest House. This is where the stretching started. Not only had we just had to rearrange our schedule but we were all tired and this would mean we would be having a longer day. Luke started to fall asleep on the bus, and we were all pretty exhausted. But we piled into the truck after a little resting time and headed off to the orphanage. 

Because my mom had been before and I had seen pictures, I felt pretty prepared walking in and was convinced I would have no issue pushing myself. Wrong again. I walked in and was so uncomfortable. I spent a good 5-10 minutes just standing their awkwardly trying to figure it out, and I felt bad because I came in wanting to love them just like I had to those kids that morning  but I couldn't. Some kids were not disabled so a few kids on my team and myself all gravitated towards them, something familiar. But soon we were taking the outside to play and I started to warm up to them; I kind of grew into spending time with the kids with more serious disabilities. Then I got to the point where I felt myself being impacted more and more by those who had a stronger disability. The kids I had avoided in the beginning because they couldn't walk right or drooled I found on my lap or holding my hand, and they were just as sweet if not sweeter than the kids that morning, and it made me start to question how I acted at home. 

I started to wonder why we judged everyone by appearance. Why could I so lovingly hug and hold all those kids that morning yet be so uncomfortable just because they looked or acted differently? And, to be honest, I have no answer for that and I am now certain it is not right. Something I did on the regular, subconsciously, was something know that is making me so frustrated. And then that brought me to an even bigger question: Why, just the day before, did I pick up a naked child and hug them and play games with kids who may have had infectious diseases, and push myself away from the disabled? That one stopped me, because now I had no excuse. For the previous question I came to the conclusion that because they were normal, it was more comfortable and that's why I was more open, but now? I had nowhere to hide.
This experience pulled the rubber band farther than I expected to be pulled on the second day, but I am so grateful. It made me really examine myself and some of the things I was doing wrong that God was definitely telling me to change. And I am so glad we did what we did today because it prepared us so well for tomorrow, where we will be going to another disabled orphanage. God was bringing things out of us now so we can apply what we learned and saw to tomorrow and I literally cannot wait to see what God does in the hearts of our team tomorrow. 

- Lilliana