I left Haiti last Friday on a high. What an amazing time the Grand Opening celebrations were. We had a fabulous time with all of our visitors from North America. It was the biggest crowd we have ever had all at once and every single bed in the place was full. It was amazing how well everyone got along considering they were packed in like sardines in the place. I am sure there were some personality clashes, but they were not evident. We have such amazing partners and it truly was a big party with all of our favorite people.
The Tuesday night was so much fun. The Haitian thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment, as we had the most famous Haitian comedian, Tonton Bicha, come to perform, as well as an amazing gospel group called Dift. They did some powerful evangelistic skits. There were over 1500 people in attendance and it was beautiful. I had interpret the jist of the play and skits to our North American guests since it was impossible to translate word for word during the performances. Once people understood, they too thought it was pretty funny. The best part was just having the time for everyone to come together from the community and be able to offer them some entertainment to enjoy. In the midst of such a hard lifestyle of survival, it was a great relief for many, I am sure, and brought the community together.
The Wednesday morning ceremonies were beautiful. We had dignitaries from the local government- the mayor, deputy, chief of the police, commander of the UN, congressmen and the Minister of Social Affairs. There were some other officials there as well and about 800 guests in attendance. We had a band play the national anthem for Haiti and Michele Roberts & Margaret Roberts sing the US and Canadian anthems. We had speeches from the various officials and from Tracey Minke with CrossRoads Church who solely funded the reconstruction of the technical school, and Dr. Bob Cutler who funded the construction of the medical clinic. After all the wonderful speeches, we led a tour of the facilities and did a ribbon cutting. There were tons of local and Haitian national meida there taking photos and video. We did interviews in the computer lab and we've heard that the footage has been on tv stations all over Haiti. So exciting!
I want to specially thank everyone who took the time to come and celebrate with us. For our Haitian staff who worked tirelessly to make it all come together. For our International board of directors for their tremendous support and efforts together to make Haiti ARISE a success. And to all the Haitians who participated from our church, community and schools.
Now coming back to Canada, the frozen north, its a bit of a downer. I wish that the kids and I were all down there with Marc still. I have to remind myself that for the sake of the kids we stay through the fall so they can participate in important sports and social activities for their development. But my heart is truly in Haiti and I miss it terribly when I am not there. I love Canada and it is just as much a part of our lives, but being here in winter and while Marc is still in Haiti is not my favorite. The only real downer from all the festivities that happened is some of our guests got sick on returning home, including myself. I have an impression that the food that was catered may not have all been up to par, although it was tasty and beautiful. I am really sorry for any bugs anyone may have brought back with them from that tasty meal. We rarely have food issues with our visitors cause we do all of the cooking in our own kitchen and ensure that health safety standards are kept. But this event was catered by a company from PAP that was supposedly professional at what they did. So, I'm praying and hoping everyone who got sick gets better real soon!
I am really looking forward to getting back to Haiti by New Years and being in the sun!
You can check out photos from the event here: