In a few days I will be heading back to the UK. I am looking forward to seeing friends and family again and I will return with a new found appreciation for things that in the past I may have taken for granted, such as electricity, running water and comfy chairs! There will also be a few things I won’t miss, the heat and the bugs chief amongst them, but as anyone who has read my blog regularly will know, I’ve had so many memorable experiences during my time in Haiti that I thought I would end my blog by highlighting a few of the things that make this place so special.
Haiti is a beautiful country. Each day I look out over the mountains, the lake and the palm trees and think how lucky I am to enjoy such an amazing view. Dawn’s light renders the sky in so many shades of pink, orange, green, and blue and the aspect of the water constantly changes with the weather, from glass in the morning sun to dark slate as huge stacks of cumulus bubble up in the afternoons. Then at night, when the clouds melt away and the intense heat of the day subsides, I lie down on the balcony, gazing up at the stars which shine so brightly, with no man made light to obscure them here. Yes, Haiti bears the scars of pollution and environmental mismanagement, but it’s still easy to understand why this country was once named the Pearl of the Caribbean.
Teaching English, to kids, most of whom are complete beginners, has been enormous fun. No assessment, marking, meetings or targets to worry about, and a mission to make lessons fast paced and interactive, has given me the license to focus on what teachers enjoy doing most: planning enjoyable, memorable lessons. Personal highlights have included telling the story of This Little Pig and seeing how excited the kids get during competitive games. It has renewed my enthusiasm for teaching and I am already thinking ahead to new ideas I want to put into practice with my next class back home.
One of the things that really stands out when you come to Haiti is the strength of their faith, and I have been welcomed into their worship. With bleary eyes, I have woken each day before dawn to join the family for hymns and prayer, and then again in the evening before we go to bed. To be amongst people so full of hope and gratitude, despite having so little by western standards, makes me feel quite humble but also filled with me with spirit, and a new appreciation of this gift that is life and the amazing world we live in.
Yvrose and Pierre Richard
I simply don’t know where I would be without them. From the moment Pierre Richard greeted me at the airport with a great big bear hug, I have been bowled over by their generosity and kindness. I have spent three months in their house, eating their food, using their internet connection, and occupynig their bathroom (sometimes with alarming frequency) but never once have I been made to feel like I was getting under anyone’s feet or outstaying my welcome. With their kids too, they show such patience and love which must be quite a challenge at the end of a busy day… especially when you have 31 of them to deal with! They really are an inspiration, and the beating heart of Hope House.
The final word has to go to the kids who live here at Hope House. Always polite, kind and helpful, they are a credit to Yvrose and Pierre Richard, and also to themselves. They’re also a lot of fun too and I know I will miss their presence when I have returned to the UK. I will miss swinging Lorena around til she squeals, playing thumb wars with Erntso and Vince, and singing songs with Lugenia. I’ll remember Ginio playing with the buttons on my digital watch, Esther doing her cartwheels, and Jabetta’s doe eyes ad big smile. Each one has their own story, often sad, which brought them to Hope House, but still they are so full of life and personality. In a country that faces so many challenges, I am glad there is a place like this where they can enjoy a happy childhood and look forward to a brighter future.