Helping build a better world in Haiti

Dave
Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Calendars mean very little to people living in Haiti.

"It's a moment-to-moment lifestyle there, whereas we're always planning ahead," said Raymond Fancy, Pastor at the Amherst Wesleyan Church.

"We worry about what we will do for a vacation or what we'll serve for supper on the weekend, whereas the Haitians worry about where there next meal is coming from."

Fancy travelled to Haiti for 10 days over March Break with five other people from Amherst - Phil Jones, Garth Frizzle, his 12-year-old son Jordan Frizzle, 14-year-old Jacob Hampel and Jacob's dad, Phil Hampel.

"We drove to Boston and flew out of Boston. We saved about $1,000 per person by doing that," said Fancy.

They traveled to La Gonave Island in Haiti, and worked in a city called Anse-a-Galets.

The reason for going to Haiti was to work alongside Barry and Beth Gould, who are missionaries from Amherst and are also members of the Amherst Wesleyan Church.

They work on projects sponsored by West Indies Self Help (WISH).

"We're helping with different projects they're working on," said Fancy.

One of the projects was converting a former guesthouse into a storage area for a new hospital that was recently built.

"The new hospital is quite a phenomenal structure," said Jones "It's all solar powered and, for Haiti, it's state-of-the-art."

The entire 45-bed hospital was built by hand, and $1.3 million was spent in the local community buying supplies to build the hospital.

"There were no excavators or anything. They used a pick and shovel," he added.

They had to continually pour 493 tons of concrete to create a cement slab.

"They used a hand mixer and a bucket brigade," said Jones. "They had a crew of 30 pouring the concrete continuously for 22 hours."

It was Fancy's fifth trip to Haiti but everybody else's first trip.

Like most people who travel to Haiti, Jones said seeing the depth of poverty was shocking.

"We don't know what poverty is like," said Jones.

Garth Frizzle says travelling to Haiti was like stepping 200 years, or maybe even 2,000 years back in time.

"There are goats everywhere, and chickens and donkeys," said Frizzle "It's almost like you are in Bible times. There's a donkey, there's a kid with no clothes on or a kid with just a shirt on."

Despite the poverty, Frizzle says the atmosphere can be quite lively.

"When there's a soccer match, there would be a truck driving through the streets with a bullhorn advertising the match," said Frizzle. "The truck would drive up and down the streets and it would be a big party atmosphere. It's a noisy, lively place."

It can also be lively if you start buying stuff from people on the street.

He ended up buying about seven paintings and the situation became mob-like.

"A crowd of people started to gather around me and I told the driver that we had to leave," said Frizzle. "I was starting to get a little uncomfortable."

Jordan Frizzle says they are told to ignore people who ask for money, which is something that often happens.

"You're not supposed to give them money because you don't want to attract attention. You would have a big crowd if you gave out money," said Jordan.

They also say people aren't shy to proclaim their Christianity.

"They proclaim their Christianity on their cars and on posters. It's very public," said Jones.

Fancy agrees.

"They don't have anything, but when they show up to church on Sunday morning they show up their best clothes and sing," he said.

"They have so little but they worship God in ways we don't really know how to," he added. "If we were living in Haiti we'd be more inclined to be asking for things rather than giving in worship."

Another project they funded for six days was a Rotary Club feeding program.

"They feed the school kids every other day, and then they feed the kids who can't go to school on the other days," said Fancy. "It's the only meal of the day for them. It's a huge plate of rice and beans but they wolf it down.

"The Rotary Club helped with that and we were able to fund a week of that, so there were 100 kids a day for six days."

Asked if he sees a light at the end of the tunnel for the people in Haiti, Fancy said not really.

"Everything we do seems like a drop in the bucket. You don't really see a light at the end of the tunnel because there's such a great need."

And what did Jordan take away from his journey?

"I think I'll be more easy going," said the 12-year-old. "I'll go with the flow instead of complaining about things."

         

Organizations: Amherst Wesleyan Church, Jacob's, Rotary Club

Geographic location: Haiti, AMHERST, Boston La Gonave Island

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