Haiti Update With Danielle Cutillo

Hello Everyone!

The last time I wrote a blog post, I was finishing my first week back to Brit's Home. Now I am writing to you almost 3 months later! I can't believe how fast time flies. This has been an incredible summer and I am thankful for the opportunity. It has been so much fun capturing BLB family moments through pictures and videos these last few months. 

This past week alone has been very eventful. 

As many of you know, Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean this week. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to us! Many of my friends and family texted me asking, "is there a plan in place? Do you feel safe?" And I could honestly say I wasn't worried at all. There was a plan and I knew Brit's Home was the safest place I could be. The building alone is hurricane/earthquake proof so it could withstand the heavy rain and wind. I also knew how much preparation went into getting ready for the storm. The staff gathered extra food and water, boarded up the windows with plywood, and we had a generator and a satellite phone for backup. We also had plans to let members of our staff and community stay the night at Brit's Home so they would be safe. I was thankful for these preparations but I was more nervous for Haiti as a whole. There is still talk about the devastation from Hurricane Matthew last year and many would suffer greatly from another natural disaster. Rain storms on a normal day can affect our neighbors. Since many of their houses are made of tin walls and dirt floors, flooding can easily occur. 

As the week went on, the direction of the hurricane kept changing. In the end, it moved north of Haiti and our town of Grand Goave had more of a tropical storm. We had a lot of rain and wind overnight and it finished up on Friday morning. 

During breakfast on Friday, everyone was very upbeat and cheerful. I over heard two of the children, Dalandya and Mirna, start to sing Hallelujah. I automatically smiled. I didn't expect what would happen next. A few minutes later, a huge jam session started! A bunch of the children crowded around one table to sing and Teacher Woncico brought out the piano to play. It was very moving and such a special moment to experience. (You can catch the video I took of it on the Be Like Brit Facebook page!) As the children sang, the sun started to come out and the staff arrived to start their day. I was so happy to see and hear that they made it through the night ok. They were all ready to get back to work. The people of Haiti are so resilient. Every time they are knocked down, they get back up 100 times stronger. 

I am continuing to pray for the people in Hurricane Irma's path. My heart breaks for them and I am hoping for the best. 

I cannot complete this post without mentioning the amazing leadership of Ms. Love Pun. Her calm demeanor set the tone for a successful week. Everyone at Brit's Home (including me) admires her and I am so grateful for her mentorship and friendship! She worked endless hours to prepare for this storm. Love even spent time with me doing FaceTime interviews with a variety of news stations and live feed videos on the BLB Facebook page so we could give updates from Haiti. Thank you, Love!!

Another event that happened last week was the children's first day back to school! In the past I have only visited Haiti in July so this was the first time I was able to see their school routine. I woke up early on their first day to take their photo. They looked absolutely adorable in their uniforms! It brought back many memories for me. I also had to wear a uniform to school for 6 years. I remember my parents sending me off with hugs and saying "have a great first day!" and the caregivers here did the same. When they arrived back home, I was given endless hugs and when I asked "how was your day?" they replied "great!" with smiles and a thumbs up. I was glad to see them so happy. Education is a gift and a privilege in Haiti, not a right. There is no such thing as 'free' school here. Since this is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, many do not have the money to attend school. 

After the children came home, they immediately started their homework and had afternoon classes with our incredible staff.  

It has truly been another fabulous week in Haiti!