Our fourth day was an incredible journey into the poorest slum in the western hemisphere: Cite Soleil. In an area under 10 square miles, there are almost 300,000 people living in single-story structures made of cast-off materials. Tin, scrap wood, plastic panels, wrought-iron doors, and cement that most Americans would consider inferior for a bird bath. But it is home to these people.
Cite Soliel has no running water, no sewage system (open sewers) and no electrical power grid - the locals have tapped into nearby electrical lines with small gauge wires that run to their homes. The potential for disease and fire is astronomical.
Also astronomical are the children, and the smiles. Those smiles gave me hope today. We went there this morning with a plastic tub full of bubble fluid, a colorful parachute, some beach balls, and a soccer ball. We parked near a brand new medical clinic that Healing Haiti opened, which is part of a complex providing the school and church for a huge neighborhood. Most amazingly, it is built on a foundation driven into the ocean front which had been covered with over 40 feet of garbage, corpses, and foul water.
God provided this beautiful place, and we left our vehicle there while we ventured a block away to simply play with children. It was fun to play with the children. Smiles are universal, and your income is not a barrier to your finding a moment of happiness. We stayed there about 2 hours and left behind a lot of memories on both sides. You see, missionaries need smiles as much as children.
After heading back to the mission house to clean up, we ate our energy bars, drank some water, and headed out to an orphanage in the countryside.
Off the main road, it is on a large plot of land that is shaded by mango trees, and we met with about 35 neatly dressed, smiling, well-nourished children who ranged in age from about 4-15. Chalk drawings on the playground, rec-center basketball (no rules, lots of fun), sticker pictures, bubbles to blow, and an impromptu game of four-square just yards from one of our team playing catch and hiding in the shade.
We pulled this off during rush-hour on some bad roads! Our driver did a great job, and he kept us moving. Safe. He also kept us safe. Our translator was amazing with the kids we met throughout the day.
Safe back at the mission house, we had an enormous dinner of stew (goat or lamb, depending on who you ask) over rice and beans. Very typical Haitian food and tasty as can be.