I have been helping with fundraising for Flying High for Haiti since my freshman year of high school. I was eager to travel to Haiti because my dad is Haitian and this was my first time to visit Haiti.
It was an incredible experience to be able to see where the money for the projects is used in Haiti and the tremendous impact it has on people’s lives. Ines Lozano, founder of Flying High for Haiti, is an inspiring, thoughtful, mesmerizing, and fearless leader who is highly respected in Haiti. She is quite a force who effectively makes things happen.
We visited the Ecole du Village School which is sponsored by Flying High for Haiti and brought school and art supplies that we collected through our Interact Club. I learned that the government schools in Haiti are not free like they are here in the United States, and what might seem like a small fee to us is expensive in Haiti. Education is not a right or an entitlement in Haiti. The parents have to work hard to send their children to school, and they must have shoes to be able to attend school. While in Haiti we met children who could not go to school because they did not have shoes, or because their parents could not afford to send them. I was impressed with how eager the children were to go to school and learn, even though their school did not have electricity, air conditioning, or running water. Some children had to walk at least one hour each way, and some even have to walk up to three hours each way to go to school. The children, even though they had very little in material things, were full of joy and appreciation.
The most amusing time I had while in Haiti was giving lollipops to the children. It was like we were the Pied Piper walking through the island because when we gave a lollipop to one child, several children magically appeared, and within minutes we were surrounded by at least 20 children excited to get a lollipop. Word spread faster than a text message!
Participating in the trip made me much more appreciative of the small things we feel we are entitled to in the United States, like electricity, air conditioning, flush toilets, food, cold water, ice, toilet paper, my own bedroom, a television, electronics, and sunglasses, to name only a few things we take for granted.
Haiti is a beautiful country and the views were spectacular. The Haitian people are kind, creative and resilient. I feel fortunate that I had this opportunity.