Taking Flight to Haiti
Earlier this year, participants and staff of the Flight Program had the opportunity to participate in a Haiti mission trip. They took care of the needs of orphanage children and spent time playing, coloring, writing letters to sponsors, opening gifts, making bracelets and assisting the nursing staff with the kids’ annual physicals. They stayed very busy in the hot, muggy weather! Along with working with the children, Flight participants had the opportunity to work alongside other missions team members in a variety of ways. They assisted the nurses, worked with the builders and even went door-to-door in a tent city to hand out supplies and pray with families. The Flight participants were moved outside of their comfort zones and, through that process, learned a lot about themselves. They learned how strong, resilient and capable they are. They left a lasting effect on Haiti and with the kids of the orphanages, and Haiti left a lasting impact on all of them. One of the participants shared about his experience:
I learned a lot on my trip to Haiti earlier this year. There are so many lessons that I learned during the week that it is hard to choose just one or two to talk about. It seemed like I was learning new things every day. I guess that the biggest lesson I learned during my time in Haiti was to never take for granted the things that we have. There is always somebody who is doing worse in life than you think that you are…and now I know some of those people myself. I cannot see myself complaining about silly things as before now that I know kids who are without parents, who don’t go to school, and who don’t always get meals to eat. I have had some tough times, that is for sure, but they have tough times everyday. The circumstances that I saw people living in were shocking and eye-opening. When we walked through the tent city meeting families and asked them what we could pray for them about, almost all of them said “that I would have food to feed the children.” That was tough for all of us. On the other hand, the love that all of the people showed even as they went through these trials and tribulations was amazing to me. Though they struggled just to make it through each day, they were always kind, generous and caring about each other and about us. Though they have very little in material things, they have a spirit that is rich.
I made a few connections with kids while we were in Haiti that I will take with me forever. A little piece of my heart will always be with Elismene, or Aqui, her nickname. Aqui and I became good buddies during my time in Jacmel at her orphanage, Freedom House Grace Girls’ Home. We sat together and colored, made bracelets, ate candy and played games. Every day when we arrived, her big eyes lit up and she came running over to me. My heart melted each day when she came over to me and jumped into my arms. I believe that our bond is strong and I am hoping to be one of her sponsors so that I can continue to be a part of her life. She, and Haiti, have changed the kind of person that I am.
Initially partly funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Flight Program is a mentoring and training program designed to help former Diakon Wilderness Center students become successful, contributing members of society. Additional Flight participants will be returning to Haiti next year, and you can support them by liking the Flight Facebook page or by making a donation here.
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