week long Service Experience in Haiti, we never expected to learn as much
about ourselves as we did about life in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. But
Foundation, we spent a week in Grand Goave, volunteering with the Be Like
Brit (BLB) Foundation. Len and CherylAnn Gengel, founders of BLB, were MCC's
2013 Commencement speakers. Their moving talk about their daughter, Britney,
and her dedication to helping the children of Haiti inspired our trip.
Rutland teenager who was killed while on a college mission trip during
Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake. The BLB Orphanage can house up to
66 kids. When we visited, 45 children, ages 2 to 12, were living there. BLB
also organizes regular service trips to Grand Goave for volunteers,
Goave our heads were filled with sights, sounds and smells that were totally
foreign to us. One image I will never forget is seeing all the BLB kids lined up
at the orphanage entrance singing, "We Are the World" in English, to welcome
us. Afterwards, they ran up and gave us all hugs. We immediately discovered
that although the children speak Creole, when it comes to play, language is not
with the kids coloring and playing games, creating memory books or organiz-
ing sing-alongs. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon with them at a local park.
foot wooden house for a local family, in this case a single mother and three
children. With the assistance of a few local carpenters, we dug footings,
framed the walls, sided and roofed the house.
during Haiti's hottest month. But, our "motivation" 6-year-old Marie Noel, the
little girl who would soon live in the house worked right alongside us.
included enough food to feed them for three months. Their words (and hugs)
of gratitude will stay with us for some time.
local area. These included a hike through the mountains behind the orphanage,
a tour of the children's school, a visit to a Voodoo temple, and a trip to a
and visited the homes of BLB caretakers, grounds keepers and security staff.
This helped us understand more about the daily life and culture of the people in
Grand Goave. Everyone we met greeted us with open arms and open hearts.
heat, the intense physicality of the construction project, and the often-over-
whelming emotions associated with visiting one of the poorest countries in
the world. But each evening, as we gathered on the rooftop of the orphanage
to reflect on the day's activities, we helped each other overcome physical and
mental struggles and learned invaluable lessons about ourselves.