by Chantelle and Michael Van Praag
(Jason’s sister and brother-in-law)
We arrived in Port au Prince on Saturday, January 10. As Jason drove us through the city streets we were awed by what we saw: the roads were dusty and dirty, and cars weaved haphazardly between pedestrians, narrowly missing each other.
Once at Jay and Will’s home we settled in. Over the weekend we attended church and relaxed with family.
On Monday morning we drove to the airport with Jason and flew to Pignon, a village located in Haiti’s Central Plateau. After a short flight we landed on a grassy airstrip. A truck was waiting for us there. We then took a twenty five minute drive east on one of Haiti’s main highways. This highway closely resembled a four-wheel-drive track with huge ruts and creek crossings!
We chose to ride in the back of the truck, which the Haitians thought was funny as there were more than enough seats inside the air-conditioned truck. Why would you want to be in the hot, dusty, sunny truck bed when you could be cool and comfortable inside the truck? They wondered. We on the other hand, felt like we could experience more of Haiti and the sights, sounds, and smells in the back!
Jean Jean and Kristie, the founders of United Christians International, were very hospitable hosts and we enjoyed Haitian cuisine for lunch, dinner and breakfast. While there, Kristie took us to a nutrition center, a small tin roof area with some benches to sit on, where we handed out meals of rice, beans and vegetable broth to seventy children. The amount that children ate was unbelievable, but I suppose that if food was scarce you or I would do the same as well.
After the feeding program we hiked to the voodoo caves. This is where witch doctors have come in the past to make sacrifices. Jean Jean and Kristie’s initial ministry in the area was to the witch doctors and many have come to Christ since then.
Tuesday afternoon we flew back to Port au Prince.
On Wednesday morning we visited a market in Port au Prince to purchase used clothing to distribute later that afternoon. In this way, we could help support the local economy and help those in need at the same time. The market was an amazing experience! There were massive crowds of people and vendors everywhere. To get inside we had to work our way through the throngs of people, go up and down slippery concrete stairs, and even walk through a dark, covered area where butchers were hacking at raw meat. There was, of course, no refrigeration, and the sight of all the blood, flies and guts, and the sounds of the animals, and the rancid smells will not be soon forgotten!
Later that morning we visited Canaan, a community that didn’t exist before the 2010 earthquake but where many refugees relocated. Here we handed out bags of food to families, consisting of rice and beans or pasta. We also handed out the clothes we had purchased and granola bars and treats to the kids.
Being able to spend time in Haiti has really opened our eyes to how thankful we should be for the good infrastructure, reliable city power, water and sewer systems we have in Canada!
It was also wonderful to be able to spend time with Jason and Will and their boys! Their boys were great fun to play with and having someone to drive us around in the country who knew the back roads and how to get to somewhere multiple ways when traffic came to a standstill was very helpful!
We had a wonderful time and can’t thank Jason and Will enough for opening their home to us, and organizing everything! Without them we would never have been able to do what we did.
Some Pictures of Our Trip.
Jason driving in Port au Prince.
There were always interesting things to see.
In some areas the concrete houses looked like they were haphazardly stacked on top of each other.
View of the city from a mountain lookout area.
Hanging out with the boys.
The flying was great!
Port au Prince from above.
The meal being prepared for the nutrition program.
Hanging out with the kids there.
Waiting for the food to be ready.
Time to eat!
Back in Port au Prince again.