On February 13th, I had the privilege of participating in my third humanitarian trip to Haiti. Three other colleagues and I made up the Long View contingent of a team of 26 people. Through our mixed skillsets, we helped to build a high school, finish an electrical wiring project and hold a medical clinic for over 800 patients. Without this high school, Haitians in Cite Soleil would have had to drop out of school or travel over 20 miles a day to the next closest school. And without the clinic, people that haven’t seen a doctor in six years would continue to suffer with whatever ailments they have. The work we put in was much needed and I loved every part of it from meeting Haitians and hearing their stories, to working alongside my fellow LVS teammates.
Over three trips, my view on the role I play in these efforts has changed.
On my first trip to Haiti I thought, naively, that I would be building a playground and gifting it to the Haitians and then leaving. With very little construction background, I questioned the value that I could bring but was assured that I had more skills than I gave myself credit for. As it turns out, the Haitians are excellent at low tech construction and much better than I can ever hope to be! In the end, our group’s contribution wasn’t so much around doing the work for the Haitians, and for the non-skilled labor group it wasn’t even about teaching Haitians a new skill. What we brought to the table was our network. These projects would not have happened without the fundraising dollars that we brought to Haiti, and those funds came from friends and family who believe in us.
So what now? By working alongside our friends in Haiti, we can understand how hard life is, how little opportunity there is and we can validate that, if directed properly, our money and support will go a long way. While continuing to travel to Haiti and providing eyewitness accounts to others is important, a North American based fundraising/awareness event might do even more. So why not a water balloon fight? A large event that showcases Haiti, brings people together and represents the fun culture of Long View!
This will be the second year the Denver Branch hosts The Great American Water Balloon Fight (GAWBF) (date yet to be determined) and it is our hope to make it even bigger and better! This year we are also hoping to get the local community involved. We have already begun planning but if you want to be a part of this, please reach out to me, or visit www.greatamericanwaterballoonfight.org for details on how to volunteer!