September 14, 2012
Today’s Soul Story is a guest post from Natalie Garay. Natalie joined our Travel4Souls distribution trip in Haiti a few weeks ago. Her and her daughter flew to Miami, met up with our team there and then journeyed to Haiti for an adventure of a lifetime. Here’s her story:
With the mindset of taking a trip to give someone a pair of shoes in hopes of changing THEIR life isn’t even half of what I experienced during my stay in Haiti.
Upon arrival, as we drove through the town of Port Au Prince; we were thrown into the Haitian culture- tons of people, crazy traffic, zipping motorbikes, stuffed Tap-Taps (Haitian taxis), overflowing street vendors, roaming street goats, wandering skinny stray dogs, and the sad fallen, earthquake-victim buildings. It was a lot to take in and left me thinking, “How do they deal with this?”
As most people know, Haiti recently went through a devastating event. They lost many people; beloved family members, close friends and they lost their homes. How do you recover from that? Resilience. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and grow from the experience. And that’s just what the beautiful people of Haiti have done.
What was expected to be 5 days turned into11 days with the help of Mr. Hurricane Isaac. Word hit that our flights were canceled; then news hit that we would leave a week later. Ok, so now what? The Soles4Souls team jumped right into action and coordinated with more local missions and orphanages so that we could love on more kids and deliver more shoes. Yes, please!
Here’s what I took away from our extended Haitian vacation. The first few days were spent getting acclimated to the look, the feel,the sounds and the smells of the area. We took it all in and settled in for our 5 day stay. But, with our extended stay, I was able to learn so much more about the people, about who they are and how they survive. (a little more French, too!)
I was amazed by their creativity, their workmanship, their work ethics, their entrepreneurial abilities and their resilience.
Their resilience was something to be marveled. Here is a country that estimates about $365 a year in income on average,some living in tent cities, but who still smile and work on a daily basis. They’re not complicated, they’re not overly concerned with possessions and they do just fine. More than fine.
We were greeted with big, bright smiles and “Bonjour” or “Bonswa” wherever we went,depending on the time of day. And boy do they love them some Jesus!On every Tap-Tap, building, car window and car sticker- any chance they get they’re thanking God for everything. They are so thankful for what they have, in spite of how little they have.
As big of a tragedy as their earthquake was, I believe it was also a blessing in disguise. I never knew much about the Haitian culture or even heard much about the country for that matter. I didn’t even know where in the world it was! But I believe in this tragedy the world is now more aware of their needs and is willing to take necessary measures to help this developing country, (which,amazingly, is only a 3 hour plane ride from Florida) to further Haiti’s development and meet their needs.
I’m so thankful to Soles4Souls for offering such an amazing experience. It’s hard to not want to help this country further after spending time with them.
Haiti and the people of Haiti, especially the babies, now hold a special place in my heart. My daughter, Nia and I shared a very special time together during our trip. The Travel4Souls staff was truly incredible and to top it off, we made some great, new friends with our fellow team members. We cannot wait to travel to Haiti again, as well as other destinations with the Travel4Souls team.
Do you want to travel internationally with us? Go to http://www.travel4souls.org to see trip destinations, costs and other details. GiveShoes. BringHope.