Last September, a team of ten departed for Haiti on Holt International’s inaugural vision trip. Made up of sponsors, adoptive families and donors, the vision trip team spent five days immersed in work and play alongside Holt staff and the children we serve in Haiti. They got to know the children in our care at Holt Fontana Village. They met families in our family strengthening program, and they worked hand-in-hand with children from one of the schools Holt supports through educational sponsorship
The following are excerpts from Sharon Boyd’s Haiti vision trip travel blog.
After traveling to Ethiopia to receive my daughter, I had been itching to get involved in some work with an agency that I’m already familiar with, an agency that does great things for the people they serve. Ethiopia is a bit far for me, so I was thrilled to learn of the week-long trip to Haiti. I had never been to Haiti, but I couldn’t wait to go and meet all of the sweet people there, and do anything I could to help influence their lives in a positive way.
It wasn’t until the team’s third day in Haiti that I truly began to understand the scope of Holt’s work in the countries they serve. Although I knew that Holt had strong family strengthening programs, I had only experienced the adoption side, and had no idea how extensive their other programs actually were. In Haiti, approximately 50 children at Holt Fontana Village, Holt’s beautiful care center in Haiti, will soon join families, but, outside of this small oasis, Holt supports 500 more children in the surrounding communities. In Ethiopia, through family strengthening and child sponsorship, Holt comes to the aide of five thousand children. The majority of the support provided by Holt is for children in the communities, not for children who will be adopted internationally. Adoption is truly one of the very last resorts. Holt tries to help families, whenever possible, to stay together and have successful lives. Whether through respite care, aiding widows, or sponsoring children in educational programs, Holt steadfastly invests in each and every family they support.
On our third day, we visited one such family and saw firsthand evidence of this fact.
Goulette and her two daughters Noely and Rose live in a small home with a tiny courtyard. Years ago, Goulette and her husband moved in with Goulette’s mother to keep the girls near a school the family could afford. The father traveled a great distance to the city for work, sending money home to his wife and two daughters monthly.
In 2010, everything changed for the family when the devastating earthquake hit. Goulette’s husband hasn’t been heard from since and is presumed dead. Not only was this a devastating loss for the family, but when the money stopped coming from Port-au-Prince, Goulette was left to care for her two girls on her own. Today, the family is two years behind on rent. The landlord permits the family to live in the small house, as he has not had a paying renter ask for access to the facilities. If a paying tenant should come forward, we are told that the landlord will more than likely evict Goulette and her children. Their latrine is broken, and the landlord will not fix it until the rent is paid. Goulette is a talented hairdresser, but due to the saturated market, she cannot find work. Drive down any street in Haiti, and it’s that Haiti’s entire economic system is in shambles.
But Holt International is helping families like this one.
A Sanctuary in the Mist of Chaos
After a little siesta, the team headed to Holt Fontana Village for a visit with the adorable children in care. We all took turns hugging them, playing football, pushing them on swings and playing tag. I have to mention again just how precious all of these children are—very well cared for, respectful and well-behaved. I’m extremely impressed with Holt Fontana Village’s home-model system. The Village has several smaller homes with three housemothers who rotate through. This gives the children more of a home-type environment.
Many of the children we played with are actually in respite care. Currently their families are having a very difficult time caring for them, so the children come to Holt Fontana Village for several months while the families attempt to get back on their feet. If a family decides to relinquish their child due to extreme circumstances, then another family may adopt the child. When all goes well, the children are reunited with their family.
We continued to play for several hours with the children in one of the houses equipped with play facilities. The children enjoyed one-on-one time with each of the visiting vision trip members, as we colored, played with toys and sculpted play-dough. Having had a daughter in an orphanage in Ethiopia, I can say that my impression of these children was very, very good. The nurturing care in this facility could not be better. The children were even writing their ABCs quite well!
As the weather cooled off slightly, we moved to the outdoors to play on the playground. The children took turns swinging, playing giddy-up-horsey on laps, and being hugged on.
The Polzin Family Returns to Haiti
by Sandi Polzin
John and Sandi Polzin of Wisconsin brought their daughter, Mazie, home from Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. This September, the Polzins returned to Haiti on the vision trip and received a stark reminder of the need that still exists in this distressed country.
It is amazing and overwhelming to see how many children are in need in Haiti. Upon arriving at one of the schools that Holt helps to support, we received a full-blown picture of poverty in a third world country. And we got a taste of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The ugly: There is garbage everywhere we look. The sewage, the water, the roads. So many people have walked where we have. I wonder if they realize the depths of pain that has manifested over the years in the lives of those who labor in love to try to feed their families.
The bad: The need in Haiti is greater than you can imagine. The lack of quality of life we see before us makes us want to work harder each day. I long to use my hands and feet to honor God and serve his people. If everyone could touch just one life…”
The good: So many children and families are waiting to be loved. That’s where the vision trip members came in. For at least that day, we provided the love and support they needed. Through this trip, we will always remember the ways in which we can make a difference. The more we learn about the need, the more we can teach others how they might serve. Yes, through so much despair, this is “the good” that can come out of it—more awareness and willingness to help.