I'm just returning from a trip to Haiti, having traveled with an optometric team called VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). This team, made up of seven optometrists, an optician (my mom), a medical doctor, two nurses, a plumber, a machinist and an art teacher, traveled with the goal of giving eye care to the poorest and most desperate people of Haiti. To provide relief and dignity. To help them see more light.
We traveled to the mountain village of Hinche after arriving in the country's main airport in Port-au-Prince. There we found the SOLT mission, run by Father Glenn Meaux. He builds 80 houses a year, employs 130 Haitians on his farm, grows enough food for a small village, and educates 1,300 children at his school. It is an amazing operation. We performed eye exams on about 900 people from the village and school.
One food produced at the SOLT farm is a small black bean. It takes a significant amount of labor to liberate the beans from their pods and sift away the chaff.
The group traveled a few miles down the road to view a basin and waterfall. We hiked up a cliffside with the assistance of some young men from the village. At the top we found caves rumored to be used for voodoo rituals. They were full of wasps and bats.
From Fr. Glenn's we traveled to the Sisters of Mercy mission in downtown Hinche. The sisters care for adults and children. They also provide temporary care for children diagnosed with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The eyes of these religious women emanate peace and joy - despite the burden they bear each day.
To and from the mission we witnessed the harsh living conditions of these resilient people. You've got to be tough as nails to survive here. The people we encountered manage to be strong while maintaining warmth and joy.
More photos and reflections about our trip into Port-au-Prince in my next post...