Marathon Recap
By Sarah Vandermolen, Team Captain

There are many teams in my day-to-day life—the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, my church team, my neighborhood team, my Everstrong workout team, the Pittsburgh Urban Christian School Robotics Team, the DeVinney Corn Hole get the idea.  
One of the teams that brings me the greatest joy is the Haiti H2O Run for Hope team--women and men of all ages, ranging from 11 to 65! We run or walk a variety of distances, from 3.1 miles to 26.2, but we are all united in making a difference in the lives of rural Haitians. 
I was so honored by the 62 people (50 runners and 12 water stop volunteers) who joined Team Run for Hope in 2017. Some of us hit personal records and others were happy to finish 26.2 miles for the first time. Some trained for eight months while others jumped in at the last minute to fill relay teams. Together, we raised over $21,000 to make a difference in the lives of our friends in Haiti!
June Trip to St. Martian
by Grace, a Geneva College Student

“Vini, vini” (come, come) the little girl said as she grabbed my hand and tugged me towards a small group of children. “Chita” (sit down), I sat down and we began to play duck, duck, goose. Which in Creole is bef, bef, cabrit (cow, cow, goat). We played other games, some familiar, others new. The little girls giggled as they attempted to explain instructions for things via pantomime because we couldn’t understand them. They smiled and laughed a little at our accents as we painfully attempted to ask them what their names were using our very limited amount of Creole. They patiently said their names for us about 5 times until we were finally able to pronounce it somewhat. The children all called me Chris because they couldn’t pronounce my name either. I gave up trying to correct people and just embraced it. That night we played, we danced, we laughed, and we learned each other’s names. I can’t think of a more beautiful welcome on our first night in St. Martin.

St. Martin is the name of the community that we stayed in and it is located in the southwest region of Haiti. To get there, we drove about 5 1/2 hours from the city of Port au Prince. It is a very small community that is right on the beach. St. Martin was hit pretty hard by hurricane Matthew last fall. Because of a lack of resources, the people of St. Martin are still recovering from the effects of the hurricane even though it occurred months ago.

We helped with community projects— painting the water cistern and the church, sorting medical supplies and taking inventories, and building a fence out of the trees that fell due to the hurricane. The previous fence had  been destroyed by the hurricane. We were also able to work on day-to-day things with the people of St. Martin, like helping the ladies in the kitchen cook, learning how to weave baskets, and transporting five gallon buckets of water from the well that was quite far away in order to be able to shower.

One of the most beautiful things about working on each of these projects is that the people of the community were always happy and willing to join in the work. The kids would come up and ask for my paintbrush so that they could paint. They would share with their siblings and friends so that they could all get a turn painting, and then look up and smile when I would say “Bon travay!” (good work!) People would join in to help us move logs and shovel gravel while we worked on the fence. And even though we couldn’t communicate verbally there was something really beautiful about the fellowship that occurred simply through actions, working together, gestures, smiles, and nods. The expressions of love and true community demonstrated by the people of St. Martin are inspiring.

Following our first evening of games and dancing, during the rest of our time in St. Martin one of my favorite things to do in the evenings was play with the children. The little girls loved to do my hair, braiding  it or throwing it into multiple pony tails and buns. They also loved to dance! And even though I have zero dancing skills it was always super fun to dance with the little kids, and they were super sweet and would lie and tell me that my dancing was good. We learned enough Creole to be able to have basic conversations with the kids; but the real fun happened when we played, laughed, danced, or even just sat next to each other on a fallen log. Some of those precious little girls will forever have a special place in my heart. I truly hope that I can return again and see all of their smiling faces and play and dance with them once more.

I know that 2 weeks is not a lot of time in terms of the length of a lifetime, but I want those two weeks to mean something to me. I hope that as a result of my time in Haiti I can work harder at putting others first, being grateful, and learning how to live in community with those around me. I want to constantly remind myself that the world is so much bigger than my immediate surroundings and circumstances! I want to take a more vested interest in the cultures and people that are outside of my understanding. The world is full of amazing, unique, and wonderful people who are very different from me yet incredibly beautiful all the same. I have so much to learn from those around me in the U.S. and everywhere that I go in life, and I want to be constantly reminded of that.

JOIN Team Haiti H2O Next Year at the 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon-Sunday, May 6th, 2018
Photos taken by  Sarah Zora
Copyright © 2017 HaitiH2O All rights reserved.

Haiti H2O PO Box 5445 Pittsburgh, PA 15206

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