Updated: Sep 16, 2019
I recently had the opportunity to spend seven amazing days in Haiti.
In all honesty, I’ve been wanting to get to Haiti since the summer of 2015. The summer of 2015 was when I started doing some research with some high school Haitian students in Orlando. Ever since then I have been captivated with the people and culture of Haiti. While living in Florida I was fortunate to develop many friendships with individuals from Haiti. They always spoke of their country and culture with so much pride. Fast forward to 2017 and I ran across an opportunity to go to Haiti in 2018 and do service work with Travel and GIVE. Best decision ever!
I had a moment where I had to step back and not be in “therapy mode” because some of the strategies and techniques I saw being used by the orphanage workers went against everything I’ve been taught and know as a professional.
Haiti is absolutely breathtaking, the people, the food, the culture. Don’t get me wrong, some of what the media shows about Haiti you will see, but Haiti is so much more than that. There is still poverty in Haiti and it is easily recognizable. But if you look even harder you will see a beautiful country with determined and resilient people. Even the beaches there were absolutely breathtaking!
We spent our service time in Haiti between two different orphanages. I think most of us in the states have seen pictures of the children in Haiti who live in orphanages. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, but as soon as we walked in there were nothing but smiles and laughter from the children there. Children who are beautiful, full of life and deserving of all God’s love. I had a moment where I had to step back and not be in “therapy mode” because some of the strategies and techniques I saw being used by the orphanage workers went against everything I’ve been taught and know as a professional. But it taught me to think out of the box, respect the work of the caregivers, and still be able to provide services and strategies that are attainable. It does break your heart to see some of the children and the disabilities that they have. It almost makes you angry to know that another human being abandoned these children and in some cases left them to die. But it also shows you how good God is and how His love conquers all. Despite it all, these babies were always smiling and ready to interact with you.
I came to Haiti with a heart full of love and kindness to give to the people there. I left Haiti with a better sense of purpose and new found friendships. I couldn’t of hand picked a better team of professionals to work alongside. Not only did we bond in service to the children of Haiti, we also bonded socially. We not only worked hard, but had the opportunity to also play hard at the resort we went to once our work was done.
Working with the children in Haiti changed my heart and spirit for the better. It has given me a desire to prepare and gather more while I’m in the states so that I can continue to go back to Haiti as much as possible. The things I value now are different. I am grateful to God for the abilities He has given me. I now want to use my gifts to be a blessing for the children and people of Haiti. Everyone on this earth is deserving of God’s love, kindness and respect. I will definitely be going back to Haiti in 2019!
Kim Harrell, PhD, CCC-SLP