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Ayiti Cherie – My Dear Haiti

Up top at the Citadelle Laferrière
Up top at the Citadelle Laferrière

‘Nou pap jamais blye ou’ – ‘We will never forget you’

The tears have flowed, the goodbyes have been said and the planes have been boarded. After spending six amazing weeks together, OG Haiti Engineering has officially ended.

Traveling and volunteering abroad always teaches us something about ourselves and the world. We often realize the privileges that we have and the luxury items that we possess…and we begin to more deeply appreciate the general quality of life we enjoy in North America. At the same time, we also realize what we don’t have: family units that extend beyond a nuclear household, ingenuity in the face of adversity and a genuine joie de vivre in good and bad times. For all these reasons, we travel abroad.

In terms of personal growth, we learned to work harder, push ourselves farther away from our comfort zones and to humanize the other. By constructing the world’s first styrofoam building block factory, we are at the forefront of an open-source movement to remove human-created waste from our rivers and oceans by turning that waste into reusable and sustainable, earthquake- and hurricane -resistant construction materials. A small ripple of an act in the hope of creating a giant sea of change.

What we really noticed by the end of our time here in Haiti is how much we all changed. If life is about the journey and not the destination, our intrepid travelers have just started their journeys. Having spent countless years in classrooms, this was all of our participants’ first adventure into the real world. Not only could they handle it, they thrived. On their Independent Travel Time, participants went to the largest fort in the Americas, got stuck on a mountain because of a hurricane and hitchhiked to what felt like the end of the earth. And it is in these challenges that one finds oneself. That is what Operation Groundswell is all about.

Haiti is a country known for all the wrong reasons these days. Mainstream media focuses on the earthquake, the challenges of reconstruction and the lack of progress. All true things. But what our team has learned is that Haiti’s story is complex, not one that can be explained in a scrolling ticker on 24-hour news. So we came here to see for ourselves, made some small progress but more importantly, some real connections with real people who are working to create long-term change. In the process, we became better people and global citizens. There’s not much more we can ask for in an OG trip.

So to everyone who followed along on our adventures, please don’t let Haiti be forgotten. Its tragic beauty should be a lesson to us all. We know that our OG crew will never forget Haiti or the time we spent here…

For the last time,

Team Haiti Engineering

what are you waiting for?