By April Moss
CBS 62/CW50 Weather Reporter
In the next few weeks I’ll be leaving on a life-changing journey to El Salvador. It’s not a vacation; it’s a mission trip to aid those in need. Last year I took a similar trip to Haiti and it made a major impact on me. That’s why I know this one will also open my eyes and touch my heart. I’ll write about my El Salvador trip when I return, but here are a few of my thoughts about Haiti:
There are at least nine places in my home where water flows freely at the turn of a knob. Hot, cold, warm, or lukewarm water pours freely at my request. The laundry room houses a washing machine and dryer which conveniently washes and dries clothes at the push of a button, and a laundry tub that makes clean up easier after I’ve been painting. When my young children are thirsty, a bottled water or turn of the faucet quenches their desire. In the backyard, a spigot brings forth a deluge of ice-cold water at will to water my garden or flowers…my normal American water use is in stark contrast to over 55% of those living in Haiti today who do not have access to running water or sewage disposal within their homes. I have seen first-hand the living conditions of the men, women, and children in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Last January, I was given the opportunity to partner with Mission of Hope, a non-profit organization in Titanyen, Haiti that provides for the physical and spiritual needs of Haitians. Specifically, my team worked in the village of Leveque: a small community that Mission of Hope, in cooperation with the Haitian government, created in 2010 for Haitians displaced by the earthquake. (Insert photo of multi-colored cement houses). Over several days, we painted several brand new homes and community latrines. Before the end of my five-day trip, families began to move into the houses we had painted. For these Haitians, it was the first time they would be living in a stable shelter, with three separate rooms, a small plot of land to call their own, and suitable sanitary systems separate from the water supply.
This temporary shelter, built by Samaritan’s Purse, was originally designed for short-term emergency housing; however, it has been her home for the past three years. She is waiting for her permanent home to be built in Leveque. This mother had to walk over a half mile to retrieve the water for her child’s bath from a pumping station in the heart of the town. The Haitian government only allows those in the village to gather water every other day from the pumping station. For many families, this important responsibility falls to the children. During one of our excursions into town, we came across several disappointed, thirsty children dejectedly heading home after walking to the pumping station, only to discover that it had been shut off for the day.
Even with these difficult living conditions, the Haitian people and their country are still beautiful to those who are used to the concrete jungle of urbanized American cities. When imagining the countryside of a third world country who most believe to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, who would think these beautiful images would greet a visitor:
The catastrophic earthquake of 2010 sent tremors of global awareness of Haiti’s dire conditions. Many humanitarian aid organizations rushed to provide medical care, sanitation services, and clean water programs. In fact, within two hours of arriving in this beautiful country, a sweet boy who looked to be around eight years old, grinned widely and reached expectantly up for me to hold him. The Haitians have realized that when people from other countries come, good things happen.
One year has passed since my visit to Haiti; this year I am embarking on an adventure to El Salvador. There, my husband and I will join a team of missionaries to distribute food in the town of Candelaria, as well as, provide for various needs throughout the poverty-stricken community. I look forward to sharing with you my experiences while in El Salvador upon my return.
For more information on Mission of Hope Haiti, please visit mohhaiti.org.
April Moss is a happily married mother of three young sons, and considers Motherhood her highest honor. When she isn’t substitute teaching at the kids’ school or volunteering as a Youth Leader at church, you can catch April forecasting the weather on CBS 62 as part of the First Forecast weather team. Follow April on Twitter @MossWeather and connect on Facebook.