Several years after their first trip, Angels For Haiti, a small yet effective non-profit group from Otterville, are still having an impact in the struggling and poverty-stricken nation of Haiti.
“This trip was such a productive trip, we did so much and the people were so desperate for medical care,” said member Tanya Bultje noting some of the changes seen in Haiti in recent years.
“There’s been a lot of progress in that they’re starting to repair the country – 500,000 of the one million people that were left homeless (after the 2010 earthquake) are now housed.”
The team of four women included personal support workers Marlene Magashazi, Teresa Cisek and Tanya Bultje, who were joined by co-worker and registered nurse Sandra Hynes.
The group travelled to Haiti in October to help provide medical care, volunteer their time and help out wherever they were needed. Each team member brought two hockey bags full of items such as blankets, clothing, diapers and baby food. Each bag weighed 50 pounds for a total of 400 pounds of supplies.
During this trip, the group purchased a new stove for the Christian mission they assist called Coram Deo, operated by Bultje’s sister Karen. They also plan to help repair a couple of houses in the near future, upon their return.
First-time participant Sandra Hynes said the trip was an amazing learning experience, and while it may have been a bit overwhelming at times, she learned much and came away with a better understanding of Haiti and its challenges.
“Those people don’t have anything and they’re still happy,” said Hynes.
“I have a brand new confidence in myself, that there’s a lot of things I can do to help.”
Angels For Haiti has returned to the nation’s capital, Port Au Prince so often, the people they help in Haiti look forward to their visits every year.
“We were there over Thanksgiving so we brought everything needed for a Thanksgiving meal except for the turkey, which we were able to buy there,” said Bultje. “We sat down and we gave them a typical Thanksgiving meal.”
“We even made pumpkin pie,” added fellow Angels For Haiti member, Marlene Magashazi.
Sharing the Canadian holiday and special meal was just one way that Angels For Haiti have blessed the men, women and children there over the years. But on this recent trip it was the local group For Haiti who would learn just how much the people of Haiti have come to appreciate what these women do and have done for close to a decade.
It was the people of Haiti who exemplified the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
“We had a woman bring her two children to the clinic because she heard that we were there,” said Bultje. “She came to thank us because she was one of the people that we helped right after the earthquake in 2010. Her husband was killed in the quake and she had just given birth to a baby and she was all by herself. She had nothing.
“We provided her with as much as we could and we gave her a tent. She said she ‘will never forget us and never forget what we did for her.’”
It is moments like this said Bultje, that make Angels For Haiti realize the impact they have had on the people of this impoverished and struggling country.
“We work so hard, we just didn’t expect a thank you – because we just wanted to give and to help,” added Bultje. “The fact that they come back after years, means to them it was life a changing moment.” Magashazi agreed.
“It’s so nice when they recognize us and thank us because it means we do make a difference.”