So, there is much to still process about Sweet Sleep's recent scouting trip to Haiti. There were so many things that reminded me of Moldova and many other things that reminded me of parts of Africa. While Haiti is different in its own way, there are always parallels when it comes to children. They need to be loved. They need to be nurtured. They need to know Jesus. They need to feel safe. They need healthy beds to sleep in and remind them of all these things.
There is a great need for our ministry in Haiti. Here, for now, is a wrap up of our experience. In pictures. Your heart can take it from there.
I didn't really know what Haiti would look like. It's really pretty.
Drivers, start your engines!
The market where everyone goes to get their goodies. I loved this lady in the middle with her giant straw hat.
Mass transportation in Haiti....
In the fall of 2008, Haiti endured a series of hurricanes, rains and rock and mud slides that left devastation across the country and countless deaths. This river, peaceful looking now, was cause for much loss of life and property. This picture was taken at an orphanage whose walls are against the banks (you can see a little of what I'm talking about on the far left). Last hurricane season, in the middle of the night, orphanage directors heard a "rushing" sound and realized the swollen river had broken through the concrete walls. Caregivers managed to flee the orphanage with all 125 children and, literally, climb up a nearby mountain where they had to wait for three days for helicopters to rescue them. See my earlier blog about this for more....
These are some of the children from that orphanage. I'm not going to say they swarmed us, but they certainly wouldn't let go of us.
See what I mean.....
This is an aerial shot (from my eyeballs). This teeny little girl never let go of the front of my skirt unless I picked her up, which I did a lot because otherwise-- with her in front of me and all the other children holding on to other parts of my skirt, shirt or arms, walking was just not going to happen. They were so precious. I wish I could have sat and held all of them for as long as they wanted me to.
I mean really, don't you want to hold this little one?
Or, try to make this sweet traumatized little boy try to smile?
Sweet kids from another orphanage in the mountains.....
...who sleep inside this building. Just wait until you see their beds.
A little girl from another orphanage we visited. I know, when I saw her I said the same thing too, "Oh my gosh!"
But when I saw where she and others had to sleep, I said, "Oh my gosh" in a different way.
We saw many makeshift mattresses like this: a simple plastic tarp used to provide a barrier to the children's little skinny bodies and the harsh cold metal bed frames.
Many of the beds Haitian orphanages actually do have were purchased long ago with very little money, which means the beds were poorly constructed of cheap materials. Add the the fact that many times multiple children sleep in each bed, and you've got looming problems. Here, the corner of this top bunk has separated from the frame and is only being held up by this piece of fabric tying both together.
When I walked into this room and saw this my heart became so sad. The older girl on the floor was sick and was sleeping. As I was surveyed the rest of the room and tried to think of how Sweet Sleep could provide beds for these children, this baby just went over and sat next to the little girl. Oh how I hope we can put beds into their orphanage.
This was about the only orphanage we visited which had mosquito nets. Some of the children at the orphanage those two little girls live in do have beds however, most didn't. The girls in this building who don't have a bed have to sleep on this concrete floor under these nets. Gosh, imagine yourself here. How incredibly uncomfortable for their little bodies. And, not very healthy or loving.
Remember those sweet little children a few photos above who are growing up in the orphanage in the mountains? Well, they sleep here. Just thinking back to what their beds were like makes my eyes well with tears.
The 20 children in that mountain orphanage sleep on beds like this. As you see from the earlier picture, the children are all ages ---and there were many older children living there who didn't pose for this picture. Their bunk beds are the size of toddler beds and many kids literally squish onto these beds. It seems abusive to me to cram children onto beds like this. Some beds had old mattresses. Some had no mattress at all, forcing the children to sleep on the metal grid and others were "lucky" enough to fashion mattresses out of plastic, like this.
And finally, here's a behind the scenes shot of Stuart talking with two Haitian welders as we discuss the materials available in their country and work to develop our bunk bed design for this country.
A person can never really understand something until they experience it for themselves. We know not everybody will be able to see the children's great need for beds, that's why we make these trips and share these pictures. We want to bring the need to you so that you can have the opportunity to provide these children healthy beds which remind the children of God's love for them.
I recently explained to somebody that Haiti was the Africa of this side of the world. This side of the world....that actually means a two hour flight from Nashville to Miami and then a two hour flight from Miami to Port Au Prince. Who knew. I didn't. But, now we all do. How will you help us be an answer to these children's prayers?
See you in the next blog....or, over coffee or email to talk about what that can mean for you.