Riverside in Haiti
From January 14-22, Riverside had a team of people serving in Haiti at Beauvoir Deshommes’ orphanage and school. Since this is the first time a mission trip was planned through Riverside, we were not completely sure what to expect, or how our plans would work.
After much planning, preparation, and packing, our team of eight headed out for O’Hare. We spent the night at a hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before leaving for the airport at 3:00am. Travel went smoothly for the most part, although the bumpy van ride from the airport in Haiti left a few people nauseous and all members of the team eager to reach our destination. Upon arriving at Beauvoir’s home in Lajeune, our group was greeted by happy children eager to see new faces and help us move our bags into the house. After settling in a little, we ate dinner and then walked around the grounds.
The next day our projects began. Every morning, a widow’s Bible study was held in the orphans’ dorms. There are many widows in the area, some whose children attend the school, and the struggle to take care of themselves and their children can weigh heavy on their heart. For the women who have surrendered their lives to Christ, they have a hope that He will provide when they are not able to do so themselves. In the mornings, we also held a VBS program at the school. We used the curriculum that we will be using this summer for Riverside’s VBS and day camp. The children loved the songs and had fun with the new activities at the school, and many members of our team bonded with the children over the week.
In the afternoon, a Bible lesson for the orphans was taught. We also sang songs and gave them coloring pages about the Bible lesson. Since our team was only there for a week, we wanted to take as many opportunities as we could to give these children fun experiences.
Whenever we had a spare moment, we worked on constructing bunkbeds. Much of our fundraising was to buy supplies to build bunkbeds. Beauvoir cares for 33 orphans at his orphanage. Right now they all live in one building, with a wall separating the girls’ and boys’ sides. The building is very overcrowded, and Beauvoir hopes to expand by building a separate dorm for the girls. In the meantime, the beds will help provide more sleeping space and are sturdy enough to be moved in the future, if necessary. The bunkbeds also worked as a point of connection. Many children watched us working and tried to be helpful by picking up wood and holding pieces as we drilled and screwed them together. Since we were leaving many of the tools behind, we also taught the men how to use the power tools safely and effectively.
We were able to spend one day taking in the sights beyond the small village of Lajeune. On a 5 hour trip to the beach in Cap-Haitian, we drove through mountains and cities, driving through lush green rainforests and seeing people do laundry in the rivers. The beach was beautiful and the water was clear. For some of the Haitians, it was their first time seeing the ocean, so it was exciting to share the experience with them.
Aside from our projects that we prepared, we had many other ways in which we were involved with the community. We went to a local church a few times, once to host a day of VBS there, once for a worship service, and then on Sunday for church service. We also hosted a concert outside of Beauvoir’s school, inviting the people from church as well as the widows and their children. One morning, our team split up into groups to go on house visits, where we talked with people about Jesus and prayed for them. One day the widows held a small market for us to buy handcrafts they made, and during their Bible study that morning, we distributed rice for them. We packed 16 suitcases with donations we had collected, which included sports equipment, school supplies, tools, clothing, Shoes that Grow, Bibles, and food items. Over the course of the week, we distributed these items, leaving what was left in the suitcases for them to use as they saw fit.
We hope this week made an impact for Beauvoir’s ministry and community, but we didn’t leave without being impacted. Relationships were built, plans for the future were discussed, and tears were shed when saying goodbye. Darrie announced hopes for future trips to Haiti from Riverside.
If you are interested in knowing more about Beauvoir, his ministry, and how you can help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.