Haiti: Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship

Dawn Martinez

What organization did you volunteer with, and where were you located?

I participated on a mission trip with Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. We served in Fond Doux, Haiti for sixteen days.

 

Why did you choose to volunteer with Chi Alpha?

I have been a part of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship for two years and I have been passionate about going on mission trips since I was in high school. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our organization has been serving in Fond Doux, Haiti for over ten years, and we dedicate our time to improving the community and serving the children of the local children’s orphanage. We stay and volunteer in the community while also feeding and building relationships with many families and orphan children. Our mission is to tell them about God, show them love and compassion through spending time with them, playing games, feeding them, and distributing clothing.

 

How did your experience influence you? What knowledge or insights did you gain during your time of service?

I was very touched by the humility and needs of the people. It is common for families and small children to go without food for many days, and for illnesses to last longer than they should. With a tremendous lack of employment and money to spend, people go untreated, don’t eat, and children don’t attend school. Many of the people I met had nothing, yet were willing to serve us and make us feel welcome. Their love and appreciation for us was very present throughout our visit. Our arrival brought a lot of joy to the children and their families because when we were there they knew they are going to be blessed. They could stay up past their usual bed time playing, have a snack to eat every day, participate in playing Bingo and win a prize, go to the beach, have a new piece of wardrobe, or even be able to attend school. This experience helped me learn that it’s not about what you can take to give, it’s about your time and your investment to get to know people, spend time with them, learn how they live, and give them hope.

 

Did you experience any culture shock during your volunteering?

While in Haiti, I learned that the people of Fond Doux continuously and passionately worship God in the midst of their desperation. They don’t have anything at all, but speak in the most humble ways, thanking God for life, fighting to keep living, not help themselves but helping each other, and to live in the moment. They don’t live a fast paced life, or plan out their week, they live day by day and strengthen each other by caring for one another. They are poor, but they are not ashamed of it. They make the most of their situation through being innovative with what they have and where they live – this is what I appreciated most.

 

What was a typical day like for you?

My typical day would be to wake up at 10am, set the table and have breakfast, receive the agenda for the day, have devotional (where we pray and worship and reflect on the trip). Afterward, around 1pm we would split up and do different things. Some of us would stay at the home and play and color with the kids, others would go and do prayer walks where we would visit families in their huts, talk to them, and pray for their needs. And some would go and do a project like help rebuild the community’s chicken coop, sort or distribute clothes, or visit sick people and give them medicine. Afterward, we would freshen up and set the table for dinner at 5pm. During dinner, we have a special guest sit with us at the table. We would have small kids who haven’t eaten sit with us, some teens, pastors, people who run the orphanage, and our helpers who help us with our supplies and transportation. After dinner, we would go to a church service and minister there. Some services were just down the hill, others were down the highway, and others were across the valley. At those services we would give testimonies (short speeches to give encouragement and motivation), there would be a speaker who preached about the Bible, then we would pray for them. When we got home, which was usually around 9pm, we would give feedback on the service, and afterward we would break up into teams and prepare a snack. Our teams would rotate each night but we would prepare tuna or pb&j sandwiches, cookies, oatmeal, mac and cheese, or ramen noodles. We would get about 100 people (children and adults) at the house that we would feed. While we cook and distribute snacks, other members who weren’t on snack duty played cards with the kids, played games, had conversations, or were up on the roof looking up at the night sky. Snack duty would finish by 10:30pm, then afterward those who were on snack duty would clean up and later join with the other members and spend time with whoever was still at the house. Our generator would turn off at 1am so it would be pitch black. We’d then take out our flashlights, and continue our activities. Most of us would go outside since it was cooler and the night was lit up with stars. Then people would go home and call it a day at about 2 or 3 am. And we would start the day over again the next day.

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