Angela Visits Haiti and the DR
Last week I traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to observe International Child Care’s programs for the first time. What a joy it was to finally meet my Haitian and Dominican colleagues and to see firsthand the awesome work ICC is accomplishing on the island of Hispaniola. I would like to take this opportunity to share a little with you about my trip…
Keith Mumma, ICC USA National Director, and I arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic, on Sunday, July 8th. The familiar, warm air hit me as we stepped off the plane. Oddly enough, I use the word “warm” here to describe the temperature, because we had just left “hot” and muggy Michigan where we had been surviving a recent heat wave. I must say, I never thought I would travel to the Caribbean to cool down; but that’s a conversation for another day! Sarah Cepin, the DR National Director, greeted us at the airport and her wonderfully friendly personality told me this was going to be a great trip.
On Monday I had the blessing of meeting several of the ICC DR staff and having many of my questions answered about the programs there. That afternoon I was able to travel out with several ICC DR staff to one of the barrios we work in and visit the homes of several of the children in our Community Based Rehabilitation and School Inclusion programs (from left to right in the photo: Soila, Ruth, and Elizabeth).
For those of you who are unfamiliar, through our CBR program promotoras (promoters) are sent out to the homes of children with special needs to train their parents in the Portage method. Here’s a picture of the second child we visited, Emanuel Peña, and his mother, Brijida (see photo below). Elizabeth, the promotora who works with this family, told me that Brijida is an excellent mother and that she’s very involved with the rehabilitation. I was also told that Brijida has been diagnosed with breast cancer, which just broke my heart. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
Tuesday morning we took off for Haiti. We arrived at the Hotel Roi Christophe, which is a surprising gem located in the northern city of Cap Haitien, and found our MEET team from Archbold, Ohio. The next day we had the opportunity to travel with the team out to Jolitrou, a rural community where the team was helping with a construction project at an ICC partner clinic (full story about the Archbold UMC to come!). This was a long awaited project that will greatly improve the conditions at the Jolitrou clinic. Thank you to the folks in Jolitrou and to the Archbold team for welcoming us so kindly! (See photo below of Archold team member Claiborne showing the kids their pictures on her camera).
We made it to Port-au-Prince and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Wesley Romulus, our Haiti National Director, and many of the ICC-Haiti staff. I learned so much about what it takes for our colleagues to run the leading hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis in Haiti, and I know we barely even scratched the surface.
While in PauP, I was blessed to spend some time with the six beautiful children in the inpatient ward of Grace Children’s Hospital. One of the eldest, Allison, taught me a couple words in Creole and another, Jwaneese, just cozied up next to me and smiled. Oh, how her smile melted my heart! I also had the chance to visit a couple of our community health sites, located in the bidonvilles surrounding GCH. I was impressed by the number of parents waiting to have their children weighed (for growth charts) and vaccinated. And again, I played off to the side with several beautiful children who reminded me of ICC’s mission. Their smiles and sweet little hands that held mine gave me all the energy I needed to continue on with our work over the course of the trip.
And I will remember them as I return to ICC’s US office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I write to you now. I will not forget the wonderful people I met and the kids’ shining faces, as I respond to my loving God by working toward health and wholeness for children and families right from my desk here in Michigan.
Grace and peace!
Education & Communication Coordinator
International Child Care USA