One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to watch our Britsionarys experience Haiti and Be Like Brit for the first time. This trip was even that more special because it was our first EVER Public High School to spend a week at Brit’s Home in Haiti. We have to give credit to the fabulous Dr. David Lizotte for making this happen.
On Sunday April 2nd, after numerous parent and students meetings we were finally on our way to Haiti. These students have worked very hard over the past six plus months to fundraise for their trip. They held numerous fundraisers and reached out to their community for support. Finally the day came! Now for me, I have been to Haiti many times, lived and traveled around Europe for 5 months and seen a lot of the U.S., but much to my surprise as we were taking off at Logan airport, a handful of kids told me they had never been on a plane before! It then hit me, this really is a trip of a lifetime for these kids.
I typically have at least one if not more meetings a week with people who are coming to Haiti and/or their families. I often get the question, “if something happens to me while in Haiti, what kind of procedures do you have in place?” 48 hours into our trip Dr. Lizotte (one of the chaperones) had an accident while playing soccer. Now, I have known him for the majority of my life and he is a tough guy. But once I saw him I knew something was wrong.
It’s always so amazing to me to see how compassionate and caring Haitians are. Our staff ran to his assistance. We cleaned him up in our Clinic and headed to the Cuban Clinic in town. We spent about 5 hours there where his knee was casted up and the decision that he needed surgery back in the USA as soon as possible was made. The moment this decision was made I called Love, our Haiti Administrator and she was already making his reservations to get back to the states. All of us on the BLB team work hard and I am proud to say my co-workers are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. But I was even more proud of our teamwork in the middle of a stressful time. We do take care of our Britsionarys. We do put procedures in place. Although this was a disappointing circumstance, it was great to see that our procedures work.
As sad as we were to lose Dr. Lizotte for the rest of the week, the students stepped up to the plate. We worked in the morning and experienced Haiti in the afternoon. As a group leader I love watching the Britsionarys find their niche during the week. Some love their time with our children, some really thrive at the worksite, and some love both. The students from West Boylston were ages 16-18. And I know it’s hard to believe our kids are getting to be this age as well, but they really are! Every afternoon the Brtisionarys would join our kid’s different English classes and the kids (WB High School Students AND our kids) loved it! The progress I have seen in their English even since I was last here in January is just phenomenal.
It’s always refreshing to come back to Brit’s Home after working in the U.S. for a few months. I feel very blessed to work with the people I do every day in Worcester, and then come down to Haiti and work with our Haiti staff. This week we built a home for Madame Edeze who has worked in our laundry room making sure the kids uniforms and other clothes are always clean and ready for them to wear. I learned this week that she has 4 children and they were all living with different friends and family members. I was overcome with emotion on Saturday morning when we gave her the keys to her new home that her and her 4 children now call home, together.
Our number one priority is always, and will always be our 66 children. But to see the impact that Be Like Brit has on so many of our staff members lives just blows me away. We now have over 100 people on our staff in Haiti. This means over 100 families can eat, can send their kids to school, have access to medical care, and more. Kudos to our Team in Haiti, our kids are happy and healthy and so is our staff!
This truly was a week of “firsts”! Thank you to all who made this week possible for these 14 students from West Boylston High School. All of us at Brit’s home hope it is one they will never forget!