bringing Christ-centered hope and wholeness to orphan care
You're taking your kids where?
April 11, 2017
I know, right? Haiti. We’ve seen the pictures, watched the news and heard the stories. It can’t be safe for children to travel there. Friends and family reacted to the news all kinds of different ways. To be
clear, no one in my family had ever traveled internationally (wait…. Does Canada count?) My husband was the only one who had even been on an airplane. Everything for us was an unknown.
We were traveling with a toddler and we did a lot of research before making the decision that we would go. It seemed the more we read statistics, stories and heard from people personally the more we understood that our children would be fine so long as they were with us. My husband talked with a doctor who travels to Haiti frequently and he had no reservations either. So, with our concerns invalidated….. we filled out paperwork to get passports and booked our tickets.
As a mom, I felt comfortable with our decision all the way to making our connection from Miami to Port Au Prince. I told my husband at that point, “I can’t make the decision to put the kids on the plane.” Yeah…… cold feet. Once the ocean was crossed and we drove through the gate at Good Neighbor Orphanage all my worries seemed silly. It took Serene, the toddler, about 15 minutes and she was surrounded by tons of kids, smiling at her, talking to her, rubbing her hair….. and she was loving it. Adiya made an instant friend who was giving her a tour. Day two on the ground, we got distracted for about 5 minutes and Serene wandered over to Good Neighbor Christian School and I think she was trying to sign up for classes.
Having my kids with me, especially a toddler, gave me a connection with people I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Everywhere we went people were smiling at Serene and Adiya. Serene (who had yet to branch out socially in America) suddenly didn’t meet a single stranger in Haiti. She was playing catch and tag with Haitian construction workers, asking another man to get her water to wash her feet and hands and greeting everyone she passed in the grocery store. Adiya took the whole trip in stride. She noticed that their houses and streets were different but she wasn’t taken aback by the poverty. Most of the time she was commenting about the things she liked. When we were with the children at Good Neighbor Orphanage she didn’t see “orphans”. She saw friends.
In planning a trip to Haiti with kids, it’s important to take plenty of snacks. We filled our waters every day at the hotel and there was always plenty of safe drinking water at Good Neighbor Orphanage. We packed lots of alcohol hand sanitizer (toddlers are forever getting their hands in the dirt….. but American toddlers don’t need Haitian bacteria in their tummies). Serene had two loose stools while we were there. Not bad for all the times she fell in the mud! We used an Ergo backpack going through security at the airport and for her take naps in while we were working at the orphanage. Our last “secret weapon” was the retractable dog leash…..lol. When it was really muddy, we put her monkey harness on and used the retractable leash to keep her close by and out of the mud puddles.
Traveling to Haiti with kids is important to our family. The kids we serve at Good Neighbor Orphanage and Christian School need to see their peers. And our kids need to see them and know their names. We both feel it is far more "dangerous" to let our kids grow up with no knowledge of poverty, real poverty. There is much we miss about our God when we have no real daily needs in America. We want our children to know what needs we can meet using the excess in our first world lives. Watching God help them understand that their tooth fairy money can feed their friend for a whole month……. that’s a spiritual connection that can’t happen if we leave them home.