Shelley’s Story | Experiencing all that Haiti has to offer

Shelley Barcoe is currently working as a Programme Support Intern in Haven’s field office in Haiti, where she is experiencing first-hand what life is like in the country.  Here, she shares all that she’s been up to and her perspective on her journey in Haiti.

A lot has happened since my last blog post.

I’ve now spent more than two months as Haven’s intern in Haiti;  experienced some intense thunder and lightning storms, with downpours of rain; and gotten used to the heat, along with everything else Haiti has to offer – with, of course, the odd surprise along the way!

I had an absolutely fantastic nine days during the annual Haven Volunteer Programme: the days were long and hot, but each of the volunteers was determined to get their jobs done, regardless of the blustering heat on site.

This year’s Volunteer Programme took place in Hope House Haiti in Fond-Parisien.  Hope House Haiti is not only a free school for 500 students, but also a home for almost 40 children.  During the week, I got to meet some great people and it was a welcome change to be based outside the more intense Port-au-Prince for a few days.

Volunteer Programme Summer CampI really enjoyed being a part of the Volunteer Programme: the work that was done was outstanding, with a three classroom kindergarten building completed, along with many other jobs by the various teams.

The concreting team worked on making a secure, smooth path and two ramps outside the main house on site to make it wheelchair accessible, while a team worked on a chicken coop, getting it up to a standard where, by the end of the week, there was chickens placed in the coop to provide food and start generating money for the school.  Much painting work was done – and it wasn’t always only on the walls of the classrooms!

This is only a small insight into the work that was competed during the week.  There was also a summer camp held for the students in the school, taking in a class or two a day.  This was a really enjoyable experience: starting with the younger ones, we did songs, games, arts and crafts, and the very popular bubbles!  With some of the older students, we made jewellery and, by the end of it, they were better than us and teaching us new, cooler designs.  As part of the summer camp, we also gave out Haven backpacks with t-shirts, hats, towels and water bottles inside: this was a highlight of the week, seeing all the children and students so thrilled.

One of my favourite memories of the week was the last day after we had finished the clean-up and all the jobs were completed.  Yvrose – founder and manager of the school and home – and her family prepared a meal for us; after that, she had invited all the children and their families to the school – as it was a Saturday – for a celebration.

IMG_0352We all headed to the newly-built kindergarten for a picture and then a downpour of rain began, making the moment surprisingly better as the rain had stayed away all week, allowing us to get our work completed.  This led to a party with the volunteers, children, Yvrose and her family all dancing together in the rain.  It just summed up the whole week and allowed it to end on such a high.  Bringing the volunteers back to the airport and saying goodbye left Haiti feeling a lot quieter.

After a well-needed long sleep following the Volunteer Programme, it was back to business.  Next on my list was actually spending time out of Haiti.  I travelled to Miami to meet with Sarah Fitzpatrick – the Business Development and Fundraising Manager of Haven US – as I was going to work at the inaugural Miami Golf Classic, which was a very enjoyable and very successful day.  After that, I then travelled to New York for the New York Golf Classic and to spend a few days working in Haven’s New York office.  Again, the New York Golf event was highly successful and raised funds for the great projects in Haiti.

In the coming days, I am looking forward to my next trip to Île à Vache, spending time on the island and visiting the ongoing projects there – and hopefully I’ll get some time to work on my tan too…!

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