Going to Haiti / by Ali McEwen

Displaced Haiti Children Find Solace in Camp Play Area
Displaced Haiti Children Find Solace in Camp Play Area

By Ali McEwen

On January 12, 2010 my life changed a little bit but for many Haitian people it changed a lot. When the earthquake shook that nation it destroyed infrastructure, separated family members, left many children without parents and wounded hearts around the world.

Following the earthquake it was impossible to have a day where you did not hear devastating stories of the situation in Haiti. Every once in a while a miracle would happen; someone would be found alive and rescued from under rubble. I have to admit I stopped watching the news because I was so disturbed by what I saw and by my inability to do anything about it.

K’naans song Young Artists for Haiti – Wavin Flag was the one string that kept me connected to Haiti; it plays frequently and it is so inspiring. I watch the Much Music Video Count Down all the time at the gym, and each time I saw that video I would rack my brain thinking about how I could help. There was something about that music video that touched my heart and gave me the belief that I could do something to help this country.

When I saw the Wavin’ Flag video on June 9 I did the math and realized that we were just days shy of the six month mark since the earthquake shook Haiti.  This realization gave me goose bumps and was really the last straw for me.

I came home and within hours my application was submitted to the Colline Foundation – an organization dedicated to providing aide to the Haitian community. Being accepted was so exciting and overwhelming at the same time. This journey is the first of its kind for the Colline Foundation; prior to this all support and relief work was done through contacts, family and friends.

To prepare in advance, and to challenge myself, I began a blogging journey of Random Acts of Kindness to fund raise for a special community event in Haiti. I knew I wanted to do more and being a lover of parties, dancing and good food, I could not refuse the opportunity to focus my efforts on an event for a community that is in need of exactly this.

I am going to Haiti on August 9 and I‘m really not sure what will be waiting for me. Over the past few weeks we have received emails and instructional videos of what to expect, how to behave, what to pack etc. but at the end of the day it is my imagination that is guiding me at this point.

One video talked about what will happen when you step outside of the airport. What I heard on the video and how it translated into my imagination may be two completely different things. I just imagine exiting the airport and being swarmed by children asking for money. The vision I have reminds me so much of when I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The moment you made eye contact with one child you suddenly had heaps of new little friends smiling at you with their hands out.

As the days get closer to my departure I get more excited about being able to roll up my sleeves and change someone’s world, but I think it will be my world that changes the most.  I will be spending my time between assisting in the hospital and working at a summer camp for orphaned children.

If we are able to raise $2000 USD our group will be hosting a community event in Leogane. My goal for this event is to provide the community with a day of laughter and joy that will create the energy needed for them to persevere and carry on rebuilding their country.

Please follow my journey, spread the good word and make a donation. The goal is to get 200 people to donate $10.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will be the story of my experience in Haiti......

xoxo Ali McEwen

Image Credit: Displaced Haiti Children Find Solace in Camp Play Area by United Nations Photo