Welcome to Geaux Haiti!’s blog! Geaux Haiti! is a student led organization that focuses on helping orphans in Haiti through fundraising and by providing trips to take to Haiti. All proceeds go directly to The Global Orphan Project, who in turn uses all proceeds to directly benefit orphans in Haiti. All trips are also offered through The Global Orphan Project.
How Did Geaux Haiti Start?
I first heard about Haiti through The Global Orphan Project when I was in elementary school. I know many people who go to my church and who went to my old school that were very involved in The Global Orphan Project. The Global Orphan Project is a non-denominational, faith based non-profit organization headquartered in Parkville, Missouri. It has church based orphanages all over the world, and they lead trips to Haiti. I grew up hearing about trips and the wonderful and powerful experiences that changed peoples’ outlook on Haiti and how the Haitian people they met heavily changed and influenced their lives. So from a very young age, I knew that I wanted to go to Haiti because of all the wonderful and amazing things I’d heard about these trips. People that I spoke to went down to Haiti ready to give the people help, but they received so much wisdom and kindness and learned so many life lessons from the Haitians. They found the greatest joy in people who seem like they would have the greatest sorrow, and that’s a powerful thing. I wanted to experience this for myself.
That’s how I decided to take my first trip. I wanted to do something more, though, before I went on the trip. I organized a talent show called Chicks for Haiti and, with the help of twelve of my friends, we put on the acts that included singing, dancing, piano, and presentations. Our talent show took place April 21, 2013 Our goal was to raise $1,000, which is enough money to buy 100 chickens for the orphans in Haiti that we would visit on our trip. We had friends and family come to our show, and through all of our efforts, we raised $8,000. This bought 800 chickens. Each chicken provides 10 meals, so we were able to provide 8,000 meals for orphans in Haiti.
My first trip to Haiti trip took place in May of 2013. I, along with five of my friends and some of their parents, traveled to Port au Prince with The Global Orphan Project. We visited four orphanages and spent time playing with the kids and doing activities like chalk, jump rope, painting nails, and playing soccer. It was amazing to see how the kids just wanted someone to play with. Even though the orphans speak Creole, language wasn’t a barrier like I assumed it would be. We didn’t have to communicate with words to understand that we wanted to bring joy into someone else’s life, and they wanted to bring happiness into ours as well. The Haitian people we met didn’t have many material possessions, but they had joy, and they shared it with us all the time. They wanted to share everything they had with us.
I feel like I learned lessons of appreciation and joy while I was in Haiti. When I came back, I didn’t want to let my experience die. I didn’t want to forget. I wanted to share my experiences in Haiti with others, too, because that is the most impactful thing I can do right now.
In the fall of 2014, I formed a student led organization called Geaux Haiti that focuses on raising money for Haiti through The Global Orphan Project, taking trips through The Global Orphan Project, and raising awareness of Haiti to the people around me.
Geaux Haiti had another fundraising event this past January 19th, 2014. We raised money for a Mama’s Retreat. The Mama’s work at the orphanages and are the caregivers of the orphans. Each Mama is responsible for about eight to twelve orphans. The Mama’s Retreat will be the first time the caregivers will gather from different villages to pause and focus on themselves. It is a chance to provide these caregivers healing, support and education. The Mamas work six days a week and twenty-four hours a day to care for the orphans. They have one day off a week to go home and take care of their own family. The best way we can help the orphans is by taking care of the people who watch over them. According to a Duke University Study, “the health of a caregiver is the most important predictor of orphan health.” 100% of the money raised at our January event goes directly to The Global Orphan Project, who in turn passes on 100% toward the Mama’s retreat. We raised over $6,000 at our event this year.
My second trip to Haiti took place in May of 2014. Our group consisted of 14 people including 7 students. We visited four to five orphanages and played with the kids. In just one year, I noticed how much cleaner Haiti looked, though there was still a lot of work to do. The first time I traveled to Haiti, I didn’t see any trash trucks and there was garbage all over the streets and ground. This time, I saw many trash trucks and there was a lot less trash on the ground. We heard that France donated the trash trucks to Haiti. The people were welcoming and kind as always. It was amazing the second time around to start forming relationships with some of the kids I met during my first trip. We attended another Sunday church service held at one of the orphanages. One thing that we did to tie in our fundraiser for the Mama’s was giving pedicures to the Mamas at Leogane. They were so happy and appreciative to have someone do something kind for them. I loved getting a chance to use this as an opportunity to say “thank you” to the Mamas for taking such good care of the orphans. Other amazing experiences during this trip include visiting Paula Cole’s and Papillion. Paula Cole lives in Haiti, designs purses, bags, and clothes, and employs Haitians to make the items. She gives the Haitians she employs better pay and a better working environment than they would most likely have at another job. Similarly, Papillion employs Haitians to make jewelry, ornaments, clothes, toys, and other art forms. Papillion goes above and beyond to provide a good working environment for its employees. The facility was colorful and inspiring. Papillion just opened an onsite daycare to provide for employees’ young children- which is unheard of in Haiti- so that the children don’t have to stay home alone all day. Papillion also has an on-site café for employees and guests to enjoy. Seeing Paula Cole’s and Papillion gave everyone in my group a glimpse of what Haiti’s future can be. Overall, the second trip was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed going back to Haiti.
Thank you all for your support of Geaux Haiti!. It’s been an incredible privilege to fundraise and take trips to Haiti. I can’t wait to see what comes next.