Sophie O’Sullivan arrived in Haiti two weeks ago to begin a three-month internship with us as part of her studies. It’s been an eventful introduction to the country for her, and, here, she gives us an insight into just some of what she’s seen.
Since I arrived in Haiti, I’ve barely had time to reflect on what I have seen. I have been travelling between Port Au Prince, Cavaillon, Les Cayes and the island of Île à Vache.
Although I have only been here for two weeks, I have already witnessed so much.
It’s difficult to explain the way things are here. Every morning as we drive through the streets, there is a sea of people: young children on their way to school, dressed in pristine uniforms, and the girls with their hair neatly tied in ribbons. Schooling to these children is a privilege: for a lot of families, they may only be able to afford to send one child to school, and so it is something that they really value. We also see the street vendors lining the streets as they set themselves up for the day, the women weaving their baskets or preparing the rice: all this and it isn’t even 7am.
You wouldn’t believe the challenges that many of the people here face. I have come to the realisation that, for many of us, we have become so dependent on the little things – such as being in constant contact with our friends, being able to go to college, or having access to clean water each day – while for many of the people living here, they do not know if they will have electricity that evening or if they will have clean water tomorrow. They don’t think too far ahead; they get through today and, then, they can think about tomorrow. I’m so used though to always thinking about what I’m doing next week and the week after that.
Haven has so many programmes in place around Haiti, particularly in Cavaillon and on Île à Vache. Everywhere we have gone, I have seen the positive impact that Haven’s work is having on the various communities, be it the various schools that they have funded, the houses they have built, the improvements to water and sanitation, or provision of training and education to the people. It is evident that the work the team has done touches the lives of everyone involved, be it on the Haven side or those they are helping.
The past few days have been spent mostly in the office in Port Au Prince, preparing for the Volunteer Programme; we have 40 volunteers arriving in Haiti this Saturday, so we are busy making sure that everything is ready. We will be based down in the small town of Carrefour Dufont for the week, working on the local school’s buildings, as well as doing some refurbishments on its classrooms and the exterior of the school.
I’m also looking forward to meeting Yvrose Telfort Ismael, a woman who has given her life to the people of Haiti who are living in poverty and, each day, face an array of difficult challenges. The Volunteer Programme was based at Yvrose’s Hope House Haiti last year, and she is coming down to visit the volunteers on Saturday following their arrival; it will be a wonderful way to kick off the week.