Incredible Australian visits her Sponsor Child with World Vision in Haiti

I’m sharing another incredible story of my friend Alana Kaye who has again visited a child she sponsors through World Vision Australia. As a child sponsor myself, I know how incredibly important it is to see sponsor children and how moving it can be to have the opportunity to meet them. Alana not only sponsors one child, and she not only visited one child. She has made it her goal to enrich the lives of as many children as possible around this world and to also continue supporting the great work of World Vision Australia in their communities. She loves the work of World Vision and is a passionate believer of their work. I love stories like this and am so proud to call Alana a dear friend.
Written in first person by Alana Kaye.
After taking a life changing trip to Marcala, Honduras to meet my sponsor child, Velinda in 2013, I decided to take another trip to meet my other sponsor child, Fabiola. My travels this time took me to la Gonâve, Haiti.
haiti 1
On February 9th, 2015, I arrived in Port Au Prince via Atlanta and San Francisco. I drove by 4WD two hours north and then took a boat from the mainland of Haiti to the island of La Gonâve 3 days later.
{La Gonâve is an island off the west Coast of Haiti. Haiti (République d’Haïti) is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is known as “the country the world has forgotten,” La Gonâve is known as “the island that Haiti has forgotten.” Though, these words are powerful, it only begins to paint the dark picture of daily struggles faced by residents on la Gonâve.}
There is a small boat service that leaves from an old, destitute, graffitied-on, jetty (north of the capital Port au Prince) on the mainland of Haiti, that takes you over to la Gonâve. I arrived at the jetty and was shoved onto a tiny, overcrowded boat with 26 la Gonâve locals. Creole was yelled, used and abused to get people on to the boats and fights broke out over ‘tit for tat’ money (equivalent of 2Cents in USD). I was absolutely in awe of this small operation and it’s happenings.
The logistical/ operational side of getting yourself on a boat to la Gonâve was an intense environment. All I could think though was how fortunate I was to be travelling in daylight hours so that I could “try” to at least see everything that was going on.
(Need did I know, I would be travelling back on this same overcrowded boat in the pitch black 2 days later!)
haiti 5
The poverty on la Gonâve is overwhelming. The local “la Gonâvian” people have profound struggles and for them their daily struggles mean life OR death.
Getting food & clean water to la Gonâve is almost logistically impossible. The island is made up of limestone and the dry, barren nature of the soil has long prevented any agriculture development. I spoke with a man drilling (a well) for water on La Gonave, he had come from the US, he said he drills for water 3 times and it costs $12,000USD. Often, he doesn’t find ANY water and getting the equipment to La Gonâve is so difficult for him and his company. A few foreign companies have funded well projects/drilling on including World Vision, The Tougher than Hell Motorcycle Rally, Water Platform and Haiti Outreach.
Approximately, only 5% of the people have electricity (and occasional electricity at that, for those that do). Having enough money to send their children to school and be able to afford a doctor if their child was to fall ill are absolute luxuries only very few can afford. There is next to no work on the Island so the people can’t even strive at the hope of making ends meet for their families.
haiti 3
I travelled 4 hours each way by 4WD to the Pacodes Area Development Programme where World Vision operates out of and Fabiola lives. Fabiola and her Mum and I met at World Vision’s office and we spent the morning there together. Following this, we went to her home so that I could look at her home, village and school book and to collect her sisters to come for lunch with us (Fabiola’s requests!)
Too much happened to write it all down but my favourite moments with Fabiola were:
When I asked her what she would like to be when she grows up. She confidently said “An Engineer in Australia, so that she will be close to me.”
I then asked her younger sister the same question. Her sister’s answer was: “When I grow up, I just want to have the chance to have YOU as my sponsor, like Fabiola has had.”
When I visited Fabiola’s house, she ran inside to get her school book. She wanted to show me her absolutely beautiful hand writing and her grades. We went through the school book together and she was sooooooo happy with the excitement that I showed when I saw her grades.
At the end of the day when I was leaving, Fabiola’s Mum and I were crying. Fabiola and I hugged goodbye and she whispered to me that “She will give the teddy bear that I gave for HER, to HER sister because she wants to share some of her happiness with her.” I couldn’t stop crying at this… I told her how beautiful she was for being so amazingly generous, kind and thoughtful to her little sister!
haiti 7
Meeting Fabiola has changed my life there is no doubt about that. It was the best day of my life getting to know her and travelling to her remote and life changing country.
In the days leading up to my visit I thought my trip might not happen. On the day that I arrived in Port au Prince violent protests broke out in the city where I was staying and every shop, hotel, taxi, and business of any sort went into complete lock down. (I was staying in Port au Prince for 3 nights.)
The streets were set on fire by thousands of protesters and people were shot.
The morning that I travelled to la Gonâve was a peaceful day in Haiti. That EXACT morning I was travelling, everything resumed as normal and the protests and violence were over!
What I experienced when meeting Fabiola was pure joy in seeing her face, her smile, her laugh, her family, her school and her village.
But I knew in my heart how the timing was a miracle so that everything could come together in peace for this beautiful day.
On my other day in La Gonave I was lucky enough to visit my friend Ada’s sponsor child…. Jwensly.
Jwensly is a beautiful boy. He has a disability but has never seen a Doctor. Last month Ada amazingly organised (all the way from Cairns, Australia) for a wheelchair to be picked up and delivered from Port au Prince to Jwensly’s house. (From reading my above notes about la Gonâve you can probably understand how significant the day was when the wheelchair actually got to Jwensly! At times it seemed absolutely impossible!) Ada’s determination and hard work paid off and through this she became friends with Jean (a local man that has an organisation on la Gonâve for disabled and elderly people). (called ASHOG). While I was there I met up with Jean and went to see his work.
Jean taking me to Jwensly’s house was definitely the highlight. We showered him with presents, colourful goodies, water, supplies and groceries.
haiti 2
In the evening in La Gonave, Jean invited me to visit the “slum house/ poor house” in Anse-a-Galets. This poor house is basically a nursing home and has 26 elderly, disabled “guests” (locals) and consists of a tiny room (concrete walls with a leaking roof). It has no electricity, no beds, no food, no water, no showers, or toilets. They have no one to take care of them, they sit in the pitch black n their own s**t and wee… They live with goats (and the goats s**t and wee, within the four walls.) This house is absolutely festering disease and is the most unsafe, unsanitary, overcrowded, disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life.
The elderly guests die weekly of starvation, dehydration, disease and old age…..(amongst other things- no will to live/ no hope/no love possibly?)..  Their dead bodies are thrown behind the house, (by passer-by’s, as a good deed so the bodies don’t fester in the house). I have never witnessed poverty like this. To me, this is truly hell on earth and I don’t know if I will ever be the same person having seen what I did.
haiti 4
My time on la Gonave was extremely eye-opening and I could not be more glad that Fabiola lives there and I was able to experience an island of this world that most people will never see.
A major question is why did people first move there/why do they live there? And if it is this bad then why do they stay? The island is heartbreakingly made up of runaway slaves, these people sort refuge here from their owners on the mainland of Haiti. Also, the indigenous Tainos people (major indigenous people of the Caribbean region) sort refuge on la Gonâve after early battles with the Spanish.
I asked Fabiola’s Mum why does she stay and would she ever move. Her answer was “I would never, I have all of my children and we would have to walk for 4 days to reach the “boat terminal”, then at the terminal, we don’t have any money to cross over. When we cross over, we don’t know anyone on the other side. We would be homeless, with no work and my children would die on the way of dehydration/ hunger.”
In the mean time, all I can do is continue to support Fabiola on her quest to grow up healthy and happy (and become an “Engineer”… I’m not sure if she knows what an engineer is, but very proud of her for saying that). Even though I visited the island known as the “poorest of the poor” ….I, for certain, felt their amazing generosity in their smiles and their kindness in the way they accepted me.
Mèsi Bondye pou sa a ti fi ti kras koute chè an Ayiti ~ Thanks to God for this precious little girl in Haiti.
AMAZING ALANA! You are a gift to this world and your stories are just beautiful.
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