As I pack my things for my trip to Carrefour, Haiti, I realize this is not going to be a typical tropical getaway filled with swimming and naps on the beach. Today, I will travel with other members from the Lifechurch of Allentown as part of a volunteer effort to build a playground donated by Playworld Systems, my employer.
In preparation for my trip I did some research to better understand what to expect upon arrival. Recent headlines talk of cholera outbreaks, unrest, continued relief efforts to bring clean water to the 2.5 million people in Carrefour and homelessness. I also saw heartbreaking pictures of orphaned children. I want to help these people but am scared of the unknown. I spoke with Carmen, the director of local and global missions for Lifechurch, and learned that we are building our playground at a stadium where the Red Cross setup relief efforts after the earthquake.
I’m told that there will be no water or food available so I must bring my own. Breakfast and dinner will be at the hotel, which includes rooms that are shared with spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitoes! My thoughts scream, “Are you crazy, Julie?” But, my heart is telling me this is a good thing, so I listen.
Preparation for this trip and playground build was complicated. In fact, I am still worried that I may have forgotten something. It’s not my personal items that I worry about, it’s all the tools and items required to assemble and install the equipment. Purchasing items could be a challenge since we won’t readily have access to a mega-hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. I think of my friends at KaBOOM!, a non-profit that just built their 2000th playground, and Playworld representatives that sell and install playground equipment everyday with appreciation and respect.
Despite all of my reading and research, I have no idea what to truly expect when I arrive in Haiti, but I am excited! I can’t wait to provide a play area for the children of this city. They deserve a place play, don’t you agree? I am thrilled to work on a playground made by the people I work with everyday at Playworld Systems. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this impactful mission. I can’t wait to land in Port- au-Prince and begin the next six days of my journey.
Check back in a few days for an update on my experience as well as photos.