ANOTHER DAY IN HAITI
with the Caring House Project Foundation
presented by Douglas Doebler
PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI June 21, 2008
Doug Doebler awake and ready to go at 5 am June 21, 2008. Ft.Lauderdale, Florida, Airport – waiting for our flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti. Our group consisted of donors to the Caring House Project Foundation directed by Frank McKinney. We were to meet the directors of Food for The Poor in Haiti.
Did you know that in Haiti:
20% Infant mortality rate before age 5
Adult mortality – in the 50’s
Population around 8.5 million
Cite Soleil population 400,000+
Haiti is considered the 3rd hungriest country in the world (after Somalia and Afghanistan)
80% of the people live on less than $2 per day of these 40% live on less than $1 per day
The island is 90% Roman Catholic
Our comfortable Tour Bus at the Food for the Poor headquarters in Port Au Prince Haiti. Food for the Poor feeds 15,000 people per day from their feeding centers in Port Au Prince Haiti.
At the Food for the Poor Headquarters – Frank and Nilsa McKinney to the left. Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food for the Poor (based in Florida) and Madame Pun, Director of the Haiti Operation, to the right. We were treated to a nice breakfast at this location.
Doug’s thumbs up for the start of the Day in Haiti.
The Caring House group walking to the Food for the Poor Feeding Center to assist in the morning rice distribution.
Large bowls of cooked rice waiting to be distributed to the long lines of people waiting with buckets and what ever they could carry their scoops of rice in. The feeding center was a huge steamy hot room.
Kimberley, Executive Director of The Caring House Project Foundation, stirring the pots of soup to be distributed.
Patient recipients, waiting for their scoop of rice. What you cannot see is that the court yard where these people are waiting is surrounded by high walls. Outside the gate and walls are lines of people in the streets waiting and hoping to get in today for some rice. We were told some of the women had walked 2 hours to the feeding center and will walk 2 hours back to feed their children. They do this daily. Each recipient has a ticket book. They handed in a ticket that told the number of people in their family. They got one scoop of rice and one serving of soup for each member in their family.
Lissy from Chicago talks to a little girl. Here’s the shocker – Lissy asked the little girl what her name was. With an interpreter the little girl answered “My name is Sammy”. Lissy almost fell to the ground and said “my little daughter back home is named Sammy” WOW!
Photo from the Bus on our ride to Cite Soleil. Cite Soleil is considered one of the worst ghettos in the world. In years past the ghetto thugs and gangs made life there very unsafe. The UN and US guards could not even enter the area due to all the violence. We drove right into the middle of the slum with our guides. Movies and documentaries have been written about the area.
Kids lining up at the Cite Soleil feeding center operated by Food For The Poor. As you view these photos note that most of the children have a smile on their face even though they live in extreme poverty.
As we arrived at the Cite Soleil Feeding center we were greeted by a band and a Happy Birthday Banner hung between buildings. People were dancing in the streets for the arrival of the Americans that helped fund some of these operations.
The children we met in the street all had big smiles and moved in close. Some were a bit shy in front of us strangers from the USA. Most of them would shake hands, receive a “high five” or even accept a hug when offered. They loved to have their photos taken and then shown the photo on digital cameras. We suspect some of them have never seen their own face (didn’t see any mirrors). Some kids would tell others as they looked at the photos “that’s you!”
One of our group members wrote “Everywhere there were children – so many of them! They were wearing old scraps of clothing, some were barefoot. Their faces were smiling, some looked skeptical, but they didn’t hesitate to come close to us. They were gently tapping my arms and grasping my hands. They smiled broadly if I stroked their head or hugged them. It was a rare experience to receive so much affection from so many little ones”.
Huge bowls of rice for distribution to those in line in Cite Soleil.
A woman doing laundry in front of what would be considered a nicer home in Cite Soleil.
This photo reminds me of a photo that was taken of me in February of 2007 on my 1st visit to Haiti. Kind of a dazed look during a 100 degree temp walk through the ghetto in Cite Soleil. Yes - those are homes in the background behind me...
Another picture during our walk through Cite Soleil.
Inside one of the ghetto homes.
We were told 8 people lived in this one room home. Not sure where they all sleep?
I’m told they are lucky to have a roof over their heads.
Another street scene from our walk.
Heading out of Cite Soleil – open sewer ditches are seen all over.
I assume when there are heavy rains, the trash is washed away – to the sea??
Haitian people sell everything along the roadside.
A village outside of Cite Soleil that Food For the Poor had built years prior.
Seaside Shanty town – you can barely see the ocean in the background. These are the types of villages that The Caring House Foundation Project and Food For the Poor try to replace one village at a time.
Our next stop was a Retirement Center. The minute we got out of the bus we could tell we were standing in an oasis of peace and well being. It was like night and day from where we just came from in Cite Soleil.
We were treated to a celebration from the residents. This is hard to write but we were told: “if this center didn’t exist, these older residents would someday be found dead on a trash heap or starving and neglected”. Now they have a place of safety and respect.
I’m hesitant to add this photo and it still chokes me up to tell the story of this experience. We were told the older boys from the orphanage next to the SR’s residence wanted to give us a jpgt. We wondered what it could be. We were told they had nothing but they asked if they could give us a blessing. They filed in and stood in front of us, then laid their hands on our heads and softly sang over us. Wasn’t a dry eye in our group.
My good friend Jim Whelan (with the Cowboy hat), an Advertising Agency Guru, made some new friends with the children who were there to entertain us.
The senior residents having a meal under the shade of the trees. This was so much better than what we saw just a few miles away in Cite Soleil.
One of the senior resident’s simple homes.
The simple interior of one of the homes. Just a cot and a chair in most cases. There was a central bathroom and washing area across the sidewalk for the residences. You may think it looks like a garden shed but it is paradise compared to where these Seniors had come from.
Orphan boys from the orphanage adjacent to the Senior Center. We had brought 700 beanie baby toys to give to the kids. These boys were very polite and well behaved. I suspect via the lessons they learned at the orphanage.
Our next stop was the 1st Village Caring House had built in Haiti. Frank McKinney was thrilled to see the condition of the these homes. We walked the streets and viewed them all.
The residents had made these homes their own and the little village was maturing. Most had planted trees and plants. Some had dog pens and gardens. Some even had small additions.
Some of the residents had repainted their homes in anticipation of our visit.
We handed out more Beanie Babies. We almost started a small riot with the kids from all the excitement.
This little girl was holding her friends jpgts. They would get a Beanie Baby from us, run to her to hold it, and then run back to us for another Beanie Baby.
On the way to our hotel we drove by the US Embassy in Port Au Prince.
More street scenes on our bus ride. This was one of many local markets on a typical Saturday afternoon.
A short video of my bus ride through one of the Haitian neighborhoods.
View from my hotel room of the mountain side filled with housing.
I was told that was the better part of the city.
A shower, fresh clothes and reflecting on our day in Haiti.
A beautiful sunset behind my back over the city of Port Au Prince.
Presentation of the “Hope For Haiti” T-shirt I had designed for Frank McKinney. This was my birthday jpgt to Frank. The design came from my photo taken of a little boy in Cap Haitian on my 1st trip to Haiti in February 2007.
The day becomes night after a long day in Haiti.
Jim Whelan thanking Doug for inviting him to this memorable experience.
Doug and Frank McKinney preparing to celebrate Frank's Birthday with our tour group at our hotel in Haiti.
As we were leaving the hotel the next morning, I noticed that the local Rotary Club holds their meetings at the Hotel Montana where we had stayed. (I am a Paul Harris Fellow Rotary Club Member in my hometown of Newark, NY). Hotel Montana is a beautiful hotel that sits on a mountain top with great views of the distant city and valley.
Beautiful Haitian artwork on sale along side the road.
As I recall from my 1st trip to Haiti, “There Is Much Hope For Haiti”
I look forward to my next visit.
To see my Photo Journal from my 1st Visit to Haiti Click Here