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Olivia Millwood's Haiti Mission ~ Meeting the Children

We're honored welcome Olivia Millwood to GoGirlfriend to share her recent trip to Haiti. Olivia traveled to Haiti on a mission and this is her second post on GoGirlfriend. Thank you, Olivia, for all you do to make this world a better place and for sharing your experiences with GoGirlfriend.

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Haiti's schools and orphanages and my changing world

Visiting and working in an orphanage and school in Haiti was both the most wonderful and heart wrenching experience of my life so far. To see children who have nothing light up with a smile or a hug or a simple coloring activity is life changing. Being able to see the children that we support financially through our church and realize that the picture we have seen of them is more than just a picture. That picture belongs to a living breathing little boy or girl...

[Pastor Olistin, Andrew, Blake and Erin outside Delmas 39 School and church New Covenant Mission Baptist Church. Pastor was showing us the yard outside the school and explaining how they have socials and play games when it's cooler in the evenings.]

Visiting a school in Haiti

After visiting the main church in Delmas we visited Penier, the church my father helped rebuild after the earthquake. The building has walls, ceilings, a roof and desks for the children that also double as pews for the church services. We met the teachers and principal and some of the children who stayed late after school to meet us. These children were so patient and polite and kind.

helping at the orphangeErin and I visiting Penier School I remember how happy I was to finally be meeting the children of Haiti. Some of the children that live in Penier are orphans and some have families. I had taken my iPhone to take pictures and as soon as they saw it, they wanted to know what it was, how it worked, what the pictures looked like. This was how we got to know each other - they wanted to see every picture I had ever taken.  

big smiles from the childrendesks by day, pews at nightEach night when we returned to Penier Church, these kids greeted us with big hugs and smiles. They sat beside us as we worshiped and became very dear to my heart. All the children stayed in worship each night for about 2-3 hours - no iPod, PlayStation or Game Boy to keep them occupied. I had to learn to put away my phone too.

big smiles from the childrenbig smiles from the childrenThe third day in Haiti we returned to Penier Church School to have our first vacation bible school day with the school children. We spent much of the evening and morning before preparing and gathering our materials for the day. Thankfully Erin is a natural organizer and my mother a born storyteller. I helped out with the music and crafts.

vacation bible school funvacation bible school funWe used the coloring pages and crayons donated by our friends and family at home and made colorful paper plate musical instruments too. My mother used the story board (aka a homemade flannel graph) she painted on a table cloth and we had cut outs from our friend to use for the stories. I wish I could show you the expressions of the children's faces as my mother told the story of Jesus' birth. These children have TV's or video games at home so a story with pictures is very powerful.

storytime for the childrenstorytime for the childrenA donation was given at our church with a specific request that the money go directly to these children as some way to make them feel very special and to give them a gift for Christmas. Pastor Olistin suggested a spaghetti lunch for all the children of the school as a gift. We were told many of these children only eat one meal a day - normally not at all at school.

The little girls arrived dressed in their best dresses like I used to dress for Sunday school as a girl. The food was prepared simply, spaghetti with Ketchup and passed around on paper plates.

One little boy, Immlet, had two younger brothers and a baby with him. I took the baby so he could eat but he still fed his younger brothers first. The way he cared for them before himself moved me and I fell in love with these children, so bound to each other by love.

Crafts at an orphanage

gifts for the orphansgifts for the orphansBack at the orphanage, we made ornaments with the children and gave them gifts from home: a toy ball, coloring book a few crayons and a candy cane. We made a tree out of the green clothes line we brought from the Dollar Tree and hung tinsel on it.




my friend, little Youcanlovemy friend, little YoucanloveThis picture is of me and the boy that my husband I support in the orphanage in Croix Des Bouquet Haiti. His name is Youcanlove Delva. He's 10 years old but the size of a 5 year old. I'll never forget the way he held me and didn't want to let go. I pray for this little boy every day his picture is on my refrigerator. We make a monthly contribution to Help 4 Haiti and help feed all the orphans, but Youcanlove is my special orphan to pray for and watch his growth over the years.

ribbon crafts for decoration

ribbon crafts for decorationribbon crafts for decoration

We also did a ribbon craft and made ornaments with the children. That craft turned out to be a great idea because the ribbon could be reused for ribbons for the girls' hair later on.

We hadn't learned as much creole as we needed to speak with the people there, but thankfully we always had a translator with us. We soon realized that music was our common language no matter whether we could understand the language we were able communicate with each other through song even when we couldn't speak Creole or English.

updating the photo filesupdating the photo filesMy father Louis is taking updated pictures of the orphans to take back to the families who sponsor them for $35 a month.




Pastor Olistin caring for the childrenPastor Olistin caring for the childrenPastor Olistin even colored with the children. They call him Papa. He is the one who helps to make sure these children are provided for every day.




Tour little boss, Sadracour little boss, Sadrachis is a boy named Sadrac. He was probably 6 or 7 years old and small but very much in charge. We began to call him little boss throughout the day. Before we left, he took me by the hand to find my little Youcanlove. Sadrac lead me through the orphanage to the room upstairs where I imagine Youcanlove sleeps. The bunk beds were stacked three high and I saw two-three children in one little bed. That's where we found Youcanlove and I was able to hug him one last time.

playtime in Haitiplaytime in HaitiWhat is heartbreak? Leaving a child that you know you could help have a better life. Wanting to do more, not leave. Wanting to stay to find a way to help these kids have a bright successful future just like my son in the US. .

Many of us returned to our rooms to cry after we left the orphanage. There were so many mixed up emotions. I prayed and asked God to show me how to continue to help. I asked Him to lead me in a direction that would help with the much needed food, education, shelter for these children.

the location of a new orphanagethe location of a new orphanageAfter our trip to the orphanage we went back for a meal at Pastor Olistin's house and then headed out again. We drove about 30 minutes outside of Port Au Prince to a place called Onaville.  It is here that the new orphanage is going to be built Pastor told us. I remember stepping onto the desert type ground and thinking here we have hope. Here we can begin to help the community around an orphanage, school and church.

He's been granted the land to build the orphanage and it's our job to raise the 100k needed to finish building and furnish the orphanage. We also hope to do things to help the community become sustainable, such as creating aquaponics and a recycling, trash and waste system, as well as ways to earn money by creating two sewing rooms.

three local children near the new sitethree local children near the new site3 Beautiful laides who live in Onaville Haiti who came to visit us on our first visit to the site.

The orphanage is in an arid and dry region of Haiti and the beach just 20 minute's drive away. The breeze is refreshing and the air cleaner than in the cities.

The sun set in Onaville Haiti. I called this place our Hope for Haiti and the orphans that we support in Croix Des Bouquet. The move to Onaville isn't merely a desire of the Pastor's for a fresh start for these children, but a necessity because the current orphanage is owned by another organization. They have allowed Pastor Olistin to use this building during the interim period since the Earthquake, but they are eager to have their property returned.

In my next post I'll continue with the last few days of my mission trip in Haiti and how by the time I was to leave, I wanted to make Haiti my home.

Read more of Olivia's Haiti stories

About Olivia Millwood

Olivia Millwood ~ humanitarianOlivia Millwood ~ humanitarianInterior Design Consultant and Social Media Manager for Niche by Design in Marietta, GA | web operative with TrustWorkz.com web presence management for your local business | singing, dancing, theater, baseball mom, wife, friend , daughter, sister and love my whole family. #ChirpWdstck tweetup creator & host. Social Media fanatic and Twitter loyalist.

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