James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….
Dear TRTP Board, Family and Friends:
We are home from Haiti safe and sound! In a few short days, we were fortunate to have an incredible, possibly life-changing experience. Walk with us as we share our journey.
First, we had an issue with checking in our boxes of supplies for the orphans. Spirit Airlines allows only one checked bag per passenger to Haiti. However, the flight was fine, and we arrived in a timely manner.
Upon arrival to Haiti, we landed on the runway and exited the plane via a stairwell, and walked to customs. At customs we met a church group who was coincidentally going to the same place we were, Mountain Top Ministries’ (MTM) guesthouse. Mountain Top Ministries, founded in 1999 by Willem and Beth Charles, is a not for profit, dedicated to serving the people of Haiti through education, quality medical care, and by spreading the word of God. They also support two small orphanages. The first, Rachoul’s Rivers of Hope (ROH) orphanage, houses 19 (at this time) babies and toddlers, and the other orphanage, Children’s Home, is a home for older children. We made it through customs uneventfully. Rachoul, ROH orphanage director, was to meet us outside the baggage area, so we proceeded there. She was not there. Many Haitians were however, and we were surrounded. Soon we saw Rachoul, who had been looking for us in the baggage area. Our transportation from the airport to the guesthouse was in a very nice pickup truck. We were fortunate, as we got to ride inside the cab. The mission team was piled into the back of the pickup, feeling every bump in the road, and there were many bumps when we reached the mountainside!
The guesthouse was great. We had running water, electricity, and every modern convenience, along with delicious food. We were fed three meals a day. We were told in advance all food and water in the guesthouse was safe for consumption. The guesthouse was surrounded by a cement wall, and had a locked gate, three dogs, and bars on the windows. We were definitely safe. Evidently this is a common practice for nicer homes in Haiti. The view from the balcony was incredible. We were surrounded by mountains. The mountain directly in front of us was a patchwork of crops, but you could see small buildings, roads, and in the center of the mountain was a steeple, which was the home of MTM.
At four a.m. a rooster crowed, yet it was not light out. Then another rooster crowed, and they had a loud crowing contest, which set off the dogs. We were up. In the morning we decided to walk, along with others, down our mountain, through a dry river basin, and up the mountain to MTM. It was rather challenging. Although we enjoyed the experience, we plan on being in better shape next time we attempt that hike. A number of Haitians passed us by, carrying large loads on their heads of vegetables, and had not broken a sweat. It was humbling!
Upon arrival, Willem showed us the church, school, and clinic. The church was lovely, and can hold approximately 200 people.
The school takes in marginalized children from the surrounding mountaintop communities. They offer classes for children ages preschool through tenth grade, with additional grades added each year to allow children to complete their high school education. They currently boast a total student body numbering around 1500. Along with a quality education, every child receives one hot meal per day. The children are provided with a nourishing meal at lunchtime. We got a chance to hang out with the children during recess. We played the hokey pokey, London bridges, thumb fights, hand clapping games, anything we could think of without using props. They loved having their pictures taken. It was fun, and rewarding.
The medical clinic was well stocked, with five separate examining tables, separated by curtains, along with two dental chairs. A waiting room for the clinic was built. A wide screen television, donated, allows MTM to educate waiting patients and their families on Christianity, personal hygiene, communicable diseases, etc. Because MTM is not allowed access the public hospitals using mission team doctors, Willem and Beth are building a surgical center! When that is built, MTM will be able to perform operations using anesthesia.
After that we drove down the mountain. Jen opted for the cab, but Kathy wanted to have a “Haitian experience”, so she stood in the back of the truck with Willem and hung on as we rode down the mountain. Jen has pictures!
We were off to Rivers of Hope orphanage, truly a home and not an institution. The home is clean, spacious and loving. The children had a place to sleep and play inside. Outside offered a screened porch, patio, swing set and lots of grounds to romp around in.
Again, the grounds were surrounded by a tall cement wall and locked gate. The children had a new kitten to raise and love.
It is the mission of Rivers of Hope to find adoptive families for each child. Rachoul works with Lifelink adoption agency in Illinois, she works with specific Canadian adoption agencies, and is currently also doing private adoptions via attorneys.
There are four nannies employed at the orphanage. The nannies live there full-time, and are paid approximately $170 a month, rotating one day a week off. The children were contactable, alert, eager for play and attention, easy to soothe for the most part. They were in good health, clean, and obviously nurtured. Rachoul seemed very businesslike until she walked in the door of the orphanage. Then she immediately turned her attention to loving the children. It was rewarding to watch. We spent the afternoon there holding babies and playing with children. Then we went back to the guesthouse. It had been a long day.
The following day we went to the Children’s Home, the orphanage for older kids. These children are not adoptable, albeit they were orphans. The goal of this home is to raise these children in a warm environment, educate them, and send them into Haitian society to help their communities. This was also a home, not an institution. There are eleven children living there, and they attend school at Mountain Top Ministries.
We spent the rest of that day playing with the babies at Rachoul’s. One of the babies, Christopher, age 18 months, has sickle cell disease, and wasn’t doing well.
The next day, we were already leaving Haiti. Rachoul was late picking us up, as Christopher was in crisis. His feet and legs had swelled up and he was in a lot of pain. In Haiti there is no medical insurance. One needs $500 to be admitted to the hospital. Rachoul had brought him there, but only had $300. TRTP donated $400 towards Christopher’s care. We stopped at the hospital, where he was with a nanny in the waiting room, and were able to get him admitted. Thank you donors of TRTP!! We are waiting to hear how this little boy is doing, and will update you.
The trip home was uneventful. Already, we are thinking of ways as a group that we can come alongside Rachoul, Willem, and Beth and bring care to these sweet children. We are thinking of providing health supplies via a mission drive, seeking medical assistance for Haitian orphans, both in the U.S. and within Haiti, coordinating mission trips, monthly sponsorships for each baby who has not been matched with an adoptive family, etc.
We are excited, and feel we have been led to a unique opportunity, one that may provide life-changing assistance for children who have so little. In the future we will be asking you to help us connect with organizations and individuals who may share our mission. Financial assistance is needed to help purchase health supplies and provide doctor visits for each child. We believe that one person can truly make a difference, one child at a time.
Thank you for helping us make this trip possible through prayer, financial support and all the wonderful baby supplies that came our way!
Wishing you a blessed day,
Kathy Korge Albergate
As our T-shirts read: I promise…to help change lives.