(This blog is about my experiences working and living aboard a 220’ treasure hunting ship, the M/V Sea Hunter)
Greg, Gary, Alex, Julia and I left the orphanage and climbed back into the van to prepare for the bumpy ride back to the dock. I believe we were all having similar feelings. When we first arrived, our thoughts were of sadness at the dismal look of the place. Everything was mostly sparse and gray. The walkways were not paved but all dirt. The playground was mostly in disrepair and the cooking for meals was done outside over an open flame.
However, our impressions gradually changed as we got to meet and talk with the children as well as Father Marc and his staff. The staff was as dedicated as any you would want to meet. Many of the workers had originally just come to visit the orphanage but then ended up working there (of course for very little money). Father Marc worked day and night, year after year to build this home and school for so many children. They were fortunate to have him! It might not be something you would see in the United States, but I can tell you, there was commitment, determination and a vision for the future. But mostly there was love, from Father Marc, the staff and of course the children.
I was grateful that the majority of our aid that was intended for the orphanage had made it. I left feeling hopeful about the children’s future. They were in great hands. I promised myself that I would help to spread the word about Project Hope and one day make it back to visit
When we arrived at the dock it was late afternoon and the temperature was dropping fast. We radioed to the Sea Hunter to send someone to pick us up in Mini Me. Being in shorts and a tee shirt I cuddled up next to Greg (my brother) to stay warm while we waited. It had been a long and emotional day and we were spent.
Back on the ship the unloading had stopped for the day. There were still a few dugouts hovering around the Sea Hunter, but all in all it was quiet. We shared our experiences and pictures with the other crew. Bill Nemitz (correspondent) and Dan Kidd (a volunteer) had visited the orphanage the day before and had come to the same conclusion as we had. They felt the children were in competent hands with Father Marc Bosivert.
I slept hard that night and awoke feeling good. I was looking forward to going ashore and actually walking around the city of Marigoane. Besides the orphanage, I hadn’t been off the ship in weeks. Gary, Nick, Alex and Felix (our Haitian interpreter) were also going. I had to get a few groceries and Felix would help me through it. .
The streets of Marigoane
As we approached land from the small boat, I again noticed the huge pile of garbage clinging to the shoreline. You had to be careful walking on the dock as there were many pot holes. As we made our way into the streets we had a following of Haitians behind us.
The first thing you notice as you walk the streets is the trash, it is everywhere. Whatever you had that was no longer needed was just tossed. The smell was not pleasant. Most of the Haitians went to the bathroom in the streets and raw sewage flowed against the sidewalk. I was very careful where I walked as I had on sandals. The streets were narrow with small buildings crowded together. They were mostly made of cinderblocks and none were painted. There would be an opening with no door, just a sheet or sometimes a pretty lace tapestry covering the opening. People would be sitting outside their door cooking on a small open fire and two feet away another person urinating on the building. Others had tables set up and were peddling whatever they could.
Nick Snyer sitting in the Haitian bar
A typical neighborhood in Haiti where children play
Felix asked if we wanted to get a beer as he knew a place that was nearby. We followed him through streets and alleyways and each looked the same. We came to a dead end alley and on the right was a little building that was the local bar. As we walked in, the first thing I noticed was color, it was painted. There were two small plastic tables and chairs close together, a counter area and bare walls. We all ordered a beer and walked outside. At the end of the street was a dilapidated fence and behind it was a gigantic hill of trash. Playing on top of that trash was kids (barefoot) and a goat. All of a sudden I notice two beautiful little girls standing close by smiling shyly at us. They were cleanly dressed and their hair was well kept. I said hello and walked over to talk. Right off they noticed my camera hanging from my neck and motioned for me to take their picture. Before long, they were posing and dancing for us. Within a few minutes a couple adults wandered over and we started to converse the best we could. Through Felix, we found out they were the mothers of the girls and also helped to run the bar. They were so friendly and full of smiles. They motioned for us to get up and dance and before long that was what some of us did. It felt like we were with old friends. It was truly a genuine moment!
Alex being coaxed to dance
If you want to learn more about Hope Village or feel inclined to help in any way, please check out their website at http://www.freethekids.org)