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We are here because we care, we care because we love, and we love because of God.
My FirstTrip to Haiti
Thalia N. Cayetano
My trip to Haiti (January 5-12, 2008) was a humbling and learning experience. I came
back to America fully reminded that we have so many things to be thankful for. Even
the most difficult times in our lives may be nothing compared to the life in Haiti. While
in Haiti, I wanted to give the poor my “everything”- even my “nothing”, for I knew that
their “nothing”, compared to mine, is hopeless and permanent.
I arrived at the PORT-au-PRINCE airport under a scorching heat of the sun on January
5, 2008. Two nuns from the congregation of The Little Sisters of St. Therese took me to
St. Louis church for the Sunday Mass. The streets looked narrow because vendors and
pandhandlers were almost everywhere. I saw mothers sitting on the pavement soliciting
for alms while nursing their newborn babies.
After the Mass, we
visited two houses of
the nuns at Port-au-
Prince then drove off to
RIVIERE FROIDE – the
place where I would
officially lay my hat
while in Haiti. This
is where many of the
nuns live including the
mother superior and
the other elected
officials of the
|Thalia with John and Johnny, orphaned twins at
The following day, we drove off to PETITE RIVIERE, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from
Riviere Froide. Around 51 orphaned children and 15 abandoned adults greeted me with
songs, dances, and warm embraces. I spent one peaceful night with the orphans in
Petite Riviere with a kerosene lamp that died out and a mosquito net that fell on my
face in the middle of the night.
On the fourth day, I was
on the road again with the
mother superior for a
seven-hour drive to
BARADERES, where we
paid a visit to a clinic and
a school of 412 students
and 12 teachers.
The roads were almost
impassable or impossible
but I think praying the
rosary and chewing
pieces of sugar cane
helped us survive the
|The orphans at Petite Riviere
Another two-hour drive from Baraderes would take us to another poor community called
FOND-TORTUE. The parish here also runs a clinic and a school.
The roads in Haiti are very poor. Two-way traffic may not apply as pot-holes and sharp
rocks determine which part of the road the drivers must use. Our journeys to
Baraderes and Fond-Tortue were particularly toilsome as our truck continuously shook
and jolted through rocky and narrow roads. Crossing a running river with our truck was
unbelievable! I could feel the truck-wheels milling around and grinding through stones
and gravels with so much difficulty.
All the places that I visited in
Haiti are afflicted by poverty.
The Catholic nuns have so
many programs to help the
poor, the sick, and the dying in
Haiti but they do not get
enough donations to keep their
projects running. Often times,
the workers in the schools and
the other mission houses do
not get paid due to the scarcity
Electricity is almost
non-existent in Haiti and the
schools, clinics, sanitariums,
and other mission houses do
not have easy access to water.
One thing that I noticed was that the people of Haiti are rich in the things that are
important to most of us like love, friendship, patience, and respect. They are also
very appreciative. I did not see any graffiti (or no walls to write on?), which is
common in the third world, but I saw names of donors engraved on the front walls of a
few cemented houses.
I may have many stories to describe Haiti’s poverty but along with these adjectives
that illustrate their suffering is a sincere intention to let anyone know that our
sufferings, misfortunes, and problems may be nothing compared to the Haitians’ life-
long sufferings. Millions of people die due to lack of basic necessities of life and is
definitely a challenge to anyone of us at this time.
We think that giving is a sole responsibility of the wealthy, but no. Each of us always
has something to give to the needy. It is not only material that we can give. We can
give a smile or a kind word or deed. We can start simple acts of love and kindness
in our homes - where charity begins.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be different in race, color, origin,
and religion but we all come from One Father, our God, who wants all His children to
care for one another, healing the wounds of poverty through love.
|The Nuns from the Congregation of
the Little Sisters of St. Therese of the
|The nuns from the Congregation of
the Little Sisters of the Child Jesus
|The orphans at Petite Riviere singing a welcome song