Water Truck Day!To be honest, I wasn't sure I even wanted to come to Haiti. Leaving the comfort of my own room, the air conditioning, the long showers... How could I leave all of the things in my life that I take for granted in exchange for helping the people in need in our world?
This morning our team headed out to Cite Soleil, which is one of the poorest areas in Haiti. We met our water truck there and started to walk out of the gates; out into the open. Before I had even looked up, there was a little boy clinging onto my shirt and begging me to pick him up. I couldn't understand him very well because he spoke a different language, but he told me his name was Onelson. The whole time we were at the first station he refused to let me go. If another kid tried to come close to me, Onelson would try to push them away.
I helped carry the water buckets, and I was amazed how some of them could carry the big buckets on their heads all by themselves. They allowed us into the privacy of their own homes for us to help them. I was struck by their living quarters, and became aware of how much I have to be grateful for in my own life.
We went to three stations in total to deliver water; each very different than the one before. I noticed two things at each one. The first being that some would become very violent for the water. One of the leaders pointed out later on the fact that if they didn't get water then, they wouldn't have any water for the whole day. For them, it's a matter of survival; life or death. The second thing I saw was the joy on the younger children's faces. They would laugh, and bathe, and splash around. I was touched by how happy they are with so little. I think in our lives it is hard to remember that less is more.
Today was filled with many memories that I will surely never forget. I loved the hands on work and even though I, as an individual, cannot save Haiti, I can put a smile on these children's faces. And even though I cannot understand their language, and really even the struggles and desperation of their world, I get to be a part of it for a week. And I am truly excited for what the rest of this week has in store for me and my team! I have had a change in heart already, and there is no place I'd rather be.
Ever since my friend and now team leader (Emily) told me about this parent-child mission trip, I have heard about, wondered about, and even worried about water truck day. While pictures and descriptions can try to convey what it is, being on the tap-tap truck that transported us into the heart of Cite Soleil forces each of us to face what we cannot expect.
This morning, I was feeling excited and ready for the people and the work. I rode up front with one of the team leaders and got a glimpse into the absolute poverty that we would encounter. Admittedly, I got teary eyed when we stepped off the truck at the first of our three stops. Suddenly, that sadness quickly transitioned into joy as we were all so warmly greeted and welcomed by swarms of smiling children, each eager to be held, hugged, and loved.
The sights, the smells, the sounds, and the touches of water truck day will be used to transform one's perspective but nothing prepares you as much as the personal aspect of it all. To supply a precious commodity to a portion of the 300,000 people who reside in this region of Port-au-Prince is humbling and an honor. It will break your heart.
Maneuvering a hefty hose to direct water into an overwhelming quantity of varied containers at a fast pace, helping transport those heavy containers - each hand-in-hand or alongside an owner - toward its household, glimpsing into the scarce living conditions, seeing thirst quenched and bodies cleansed, and communicating in simple ways (smiles, hand shakes, fist bumps, some creole or English, songs, dance, and hand claps), makes it all deeply personal. Man-made boundaries dissolve.
I'm not sure who was more blessed today.
- Kelly Butler