A Visit to Haiti and A Learning Experience

NPH Italy visitor group journal entries.
September 6, 2018 - Haiti

Our last mass in the chapel with Father Rick.
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Day One

"The first day was a very long and intense day, it feels we have been here for almost a month!

We arrived early and we settled in Villa Francesca, the solidarity hotel that the Francesca Rava Foundation has created to host volunteers and doctors and give, at the same time, a work opportunity for the young adults who grow up with NPH and St Luke. We then went to see the city, Port-au-Prince, and the Gran Rue, the main street that still shows signs of the destruction of the earthquake. We stopped at the Marché en Fer, the covered market, one of the few structures rebuilt after the earthquake, done so with a donation from Digicel, a telephone company.

We also saw the cathedral, destroyed by the earthquake, a symbol of the city still un-rebuilt. Next to it stands a temporary church that a donor of Father Rick Frechette had built and donated to the local bishop. Returning to Villa Francesca, we had lunch thanks to the delicious cooking of two girls who grew up in NPH who also studied cuisine in Italy.

And then we were able to listen to a presentation of the history of Haiti and of the current situation, as well as that of our organization (in Haiti, NPH is ‘Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs’).

It was very interesting, and the young men helped as interpreters while many questions; the presentation was made by Jean Renel and Billy, two youths who grew up in the NPH home in Kenscoff, who are now graduating. Billy, in particular, explained that he is graduating in law and would like to become a judge!

Finally, we went to visit the Baby House, St. Anne, which welcomes children who have no family from 0 to 5 years of age, as well as children with disabilities. They welcomed us with music and lots of hugs and desire to play. Another group went to the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, where we played with the children in the ward where abandoned children are welcomed and treated.

Father Rick then took us to see the tilapia fish farm that stands in the back of the hospital, a source of self-sufficiency at NPH. The day ended with the Sunday Mass, led by candlelight with Father Rick,”

Day Two

"At half past one in the afternoon, our kids have already prepared five hundred hot dog sandwiches that we brought to the children of Cité Soleil, the largest shantytown in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to hot dogs, we distributed fruit juices and pasta for families.

We have also been involved in the construction of two houses for families living in shacks, as part of the Fors Lakay project. Father Rick and his team are working on the redevelopment of slums, as giving a home instead of a shack provides not just a roof, but the opportunity to live in a situation far better from the garbage dumps in which many living in poverty have to live in.

It is to restore the sense of family and community. They are simple little houses that cost only $12,000 each, which Father Rick builds together with the locals to teach them trade skills. Today the heat was very strong but our thirst became nothing compared to that of the children here, who sometimes go all day without water. It was hard and strong, but an important life lesson."

Day Three

"Today we visited the Francisville project - City of Crafts, the vocational training center for micro factories where they produce bread and pasta; where there is a tailor shop where 12,000 uniforms are sewed for street school children. All the Campus participants were enthusiastic about seeing a lot of work, It was called ‘the ideal city’!

Then we stayed at the House of the Little Angels, where disabled children are welcomed here to receive treatment and attend school.”

Day Four

"We arrived at the NPH house in Kenscoff, - 1600 meters above sea level, cool temperatures and mountain air – which is the place that Father Wasson, founder of NPH, chose in 1987 to create this beautiful, child-friendly home. Here live 300 children from 6 to 16 years. There is a school and sports fields, a medical clinic and, above all, a lot of love and energy.

Day Five

"Today was a beautiful day, between preparing pizza for 300 children, working in the park to construct a playground, spending time with kids, music lessons, drums, bingo and dance lessons! Then dinner all together in Kay Retreat, which was the home of Father Rick before the construction of the St. Damien Hospital in Tabarre.

A visit to the peak of the mountains: silence, peace. Here at Kenscoff, on top of the mountain, you can breathe the immense love of Father Wasson, the founder of NPH, who wanted to choose, as in the other eight countries where NPH is present, the most beautiful, safest, healthiest place to make a home for 'his' children."

Day Six

"This morning we went to the kitchen to peel potatoes and bananas and cook the chicken for the barbecue with joy, music and peace ... a beautiful moment for everyone. In the afternoon, we went out of the NPH home in the nearby forest and we ran races, getting ever excited of the barbecue of chicken, sweet potatoes and fried plantains!"

Day Seven

"We came back from Kenscoff in the afternoon, after a day of celebration for the young NPH graduates. Father Rick immediately put us to work and we unloaded a container containing medicines, things for children and a large donation of white t-shirts for Cité Soleil."

Day Eight

"Today, the boys have been busy at the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital and at a graduation ceremony for the NPH boys! In the evening, we celebrated with typical Haitian music the birthday of our dear Girolamo Mattioli, a volunteer surgeon here in Haiti for the St. Damien training project."

Day Nine

"Today was a day of hard work to clean up a wing of the St. Luke Family Hospital to prepare for 30 urgent-care patients. In the evening, we attending a party for Dr. Mattioli."

Day Ten

"Today, the last precious day here in Haiti. A busy day because we will bring 40 children from the NPH House to Kenscoff and the baby from the St. Anne Baby House to the sea! This morning, we had our last Mass in the Chapel at St. Damien with Father Rick ... we say goodbye ...

Contributed by Francesca Rava Foundation - NPH ITALIA Onlus   
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