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Helping in Haiti

The Alexandria Covenant Church group poses for a picture before setting off to change lives in Haiti this summer. 1 / 4
Lily Satterlee poses with two Haitian children. Smiling and laughing were the only means of communication with the children. (Contributed)2 / 4
Brian Farka, pastor of student ministries at Alexandria Covenant Church, embraces three smiling Haitian children. (Contributed)3 / 4
These three Alexandria area girls helped load beams onto a vehicle while doing mission work in Haiti. (Contributed)4 / 4

Ten high school students along with four adult leaders from Alexandria Covenant Church recently returned from a life changing experience.

0 Talk about it

The group spent nine days in Haiti serving Blessings Christian Church through an Alexandria organization called Bread for the Nations.

After flying into the Port-au-Prince airport in Haiti, the group set off for Carrefour, a poverty stricken and ill-serviced suburb of Port-au-Prince.

The group members spent most of their time in Carrefour building cement block houses. Throughout their stay they built two houses, one was 10 feet by 12 feet and the other was 10 feet by 16 feet.

“For them that was luxury,” said Brian Farka, pastor of student ministries at Alexandria Covenant Church.

The Alexandria mission workers rented part of a house for their stay. They had running water and a security system made up of an iron gate topped with a razor wire. They also had the luxury of locked doors.

That is something many people in Haiti don’t have – a sense of safety and security.

According to Brittney Sadlemyer, 16, Haiti “smells bad.” Farka added that everyone cooks over charcoal, which doesn’t help the smell or cleanliness of the community.

The group emphasized the difference between Haiti and America. In Haiti, wild goats run everywhere, people dump their garbage in the river while others bathe in it and it’s hot and humid all the time. There is malnutrition, starving, a shortage of jobs and extremely low income.

The grocery store was the only air conditioned building in the area. Surrounding the premises were armed guards to ensure nobody utilized the building only for the cool air.

As for water, the group drank from large containers of fresh water, but it was rarely cold because it sat with them in the sun all day.

Haitians get their water by buying packets of cold, filtered water, by treating unfiltered water with chlorine, or just by drinking dirty, unfiltered water.

The group shared many memorable experiences with each other and the Haitians.

“We were the only white people in the whole area,” noted Farka. Many of the Haitian children would constantly touch the skin and hair of the missionaries because it was different than theirs.

Sara Wegner, 16, said “many people are lovable and caring and want to know a lot about you.”

Sometimes while the group was indulged in other activities, Silbernick said “a swarm of Haitian kids would come running out of nowhere.”

The kids liked physical touch and it was hard for the group to leave their hugs and smiles.

Even though there was a language barrier, the group stated that a lot of laughs were exchanged instead of actual words.

There were also a lot of gestures exchanged, interpreters were available to aid in the language barrier, and the Alexandria group translated sentences using a Creole to English dictionary.

Morgan Silbernick, 16, stated her reason for going on the mission trip was “to touch the people’s hearts,” and Wegner wanted to “make relationships with people.”

The group ended up forming relationships with many Haitians. Not only did they touch the hearts of those people, but their own hearts were also touched.

Being back in the U.S. after the trip made them realize everything Americans take for granted.

“We could go get cold water and waste paper towels washing our hands,” stated Sadlemyer.

What inspired Silbernick after her return was “how happy people in Haiti were with how little they had.”

During their nine-day stay in Haiti, the mission group touched many lives and learned to appreciate all that they have.