A Trip to the Orphanage
A handicapped boy in his crib at the orphanage, Zanmi Lasante, Haiti, May 2015 [Photo: Mary Margaret Johnson]
It has been an incredible trip to Haiti. The past few days have been full of laughter, rapport and deep meaningful conversations within our group of students and faculty, as well as the people we have met and are working with here in Cange. However, my experience have gone beyond conversation and photography. As Sewanee
students, we have been lucky to work with the Haiti-Sewanee Institute with their projects. Not only are we able to learn things here that could not be taught in a classroom, but we are doing things that combine our academics with our passions. This trip has provided us with an experience that is enlightening and fun, yet emotionally, mentally and physically challenging (the Bois Jolie hike in particular). It is much more than I could have ever asked for, and I know the other students on this team would say the same.
The orphanage, here in Zanmi Lasante, was mentioned a few times during the first few days of the trip. When I heard the words “special needs” and assumed that there were other children as well, I was immediately intrigued. I have worked with children and adults with special needs for six years, it is my passion, so my mind was set visit the orphanage.
It was not an easy visit. According to Marie Flore Chipps (Zanmi Lasante’s chief administrator) and orphanage staff, the facility is lacking the basics to care for some of their children. There are about three wheelchairs there and they are constantly running out of diapers. Children with special needs are either in their cribs or put on a carpet because they do not have the means of doing anything else. However, there are so many wonderful things that this orphanage offers, particularly as a working community: they care for each other, feed each other and clean each other, they have learned to work with what they have. Considering the lack of resources and funds, it is incredible how they make do.
In the next few days, I hope to know more about the history of the orphanage and of its children. Hopefully, these visits will allow me to observe and have conversations that lead to ideas for the future.
One of the staff holding up a girl who is handicap, Haiti, May 2015 [Photo: Mary Margaret Johnson]