In March 2014, two board members, Sharon Dugard and Ute Rehill, went for their third visit to Open Doorways, along with two volunteers. They had a wonderful visit with the children, and were very pleased to see how they were all progressing.
Below, Ute shares her experience with us:
“It was our first time staying in the converted school house, which now has 2 bedrooms, bathrooms and a main area which also serves as an activity room for the children.
The grueling 3-hour drive from Port-au-Prince to Deschapelles is quickly forgotten, once we see the children. The moment they realize we’ve arrived and start running toward us is the most amazing. The smiles and hugs are all worth the long travel days. Each year we meet a few new kids, and while they are initially apprehensive and shy, they quickly join in the fray looking for hugs, kisses and individual play time. In some cases we are the first white people that some of the new kids have seen or interacted with. No wonder it takes a bit to warm up!
This year we met Jhondy, John Wesley and Widelene for the first time. All three are sweet and very bright. Kids coming to us from the mountains are often underdeveloped and these kids are no exception. Both Jhondy and Widelene are quite small for their age and they’ve not attended school. It will be great to see their progress next year.
We are so pleased we’ve been able to hire a tutor this year to help the kids catch up to their regular grades. Currently, most are a year or two behind and we’re hoping over time they can progress enough to skip a grade or two.
Our activities with the kids included football, soccer and general ball throwing along with drawing, coloring, puzzles and crafts. It’s amazing to watch them develop some fine motor skills that we are used to kids acquiring at a much earlier age at home. We bowled with empty water bottles, they enjoyed balloons for hours and the kids were amazed by the glow sticks we brought them. Surprising to them also was that they not glow the next night! Some even seemed to enjoy the simple math tests and writing practice, which helped us to get a better understanding of their progress.
They loved the many gifts brought from children and groups around Manitoba. Bracelets, Valentine’s cards, French books with notes & pictures, etc. Sunglasses were a huge hit and seldom left their heads. Some sunglasses even survived for our whole visit! As usual, they enjoyed the new clothes and runners we brought, along with other treats. Thanks to so many of our supporters who created and collected items for us to bring. It was such fun to reveal a new activity or useful gift each day and see the kids enjoy them so much.
Food was again an experience with lots of rice and beans, but also whole fried fish, chicken and, of course…goat. Our favorites were the puddings, mango and fried plantain. Our volunteers made crepes with apple filling and Manitoba maple syrup, which everyone loved, especially when we would flip the crepes in the air! We introduced the kids to apples dipped in peanut butter and we were able to bring back ice cream and chocolate sauce from the market for an evening treat. Most of these items are not available at the local markets and we purchased them in what we would consider a regular grocery store in St. Marc – a 40 minute drive.
An outing in the big blue truck was a fun event for the kids as we stopped at the river and picked up some Coca Cola. It always amazes me how good the kids are and how well they listen – even when it’s mostly gesturing and random French words from us. It’s been very special to see each child thrive and grow over the past 2 years, and we look forward to seeing their progression into adulthood.”
As we continue to take on new children, we have a need to further develop our monthly donor base to ensure we can adequately support the children long term. If you are considering partnering with us in this worthwhile venture please contact us through our website. We also invite you to follow us on Facebook.