2016 Exploration Pilgrimage – Day 5: Boileau and Port Salut

Today was a slower day for the Haitian Pilgrims team.  Keith, Sue and I walked our normal 3 miles, but then we went back to the NOVA facility and ate a leisurely breakfast and hung around the facility until Sue finished with a phone conference.  Then we went over to Boileau to meet with Father Ingrid.  After our meetings, he served us a very delicious Haitian meal (so much for losing weight while I was here).  The food is so good – fresh fruits, vegetables, a slaw they call picles, which I love, goat, pork, and a cornmeal dish, similar to Polenta.  I wish I could bring some of the fresh fruit home with me – it is so wonderful.  After lunch, we toured the clinic again and were lucky to see the children.  They swarmed Mama Sue and then me – because they wanted to see the pictures I took of them with Mama Sue!  They are all so adorable and loving, greeting all of us with Bon Jour and good mornings and high fives!

We finally left around 2pm and headed to the beach to relax and just chill out.  The beach was absolutely stunning as you can see in the pictures and the best part was we had the entire beach to ourselves!  We headed back to town around 4:30, so we could clean up and meet Jean Robert, Yvanni and Erone.  We wanted to thank them for all of their hard work and dedication to helping Haitian Pilgrims.  Then Alix took us out to dinner, so we could experience a Haitian restaurant.  It was open area restaurants just off the beach.  I wish I could have seen it in the daylight, but I wasn’t disappointed, as the stars were out and the sky was gorgeous.  We had grilled lobster and conch with fresh avocados and fried plantains.  Another delicious meal!!  Pere Ingrid joined us and we met his sister and niece.  We drove back to Cavaillon around 9:30, and the roads were filled with people walking, motorcycles, cars – I would be too scared to drive at night, as there are no street lights and with so many people on the roads I was afraid we would hit someone.  It’s hard to explain – you’ll just have to come down to experience it.    ​

It’s been a wonderful experience, as well as eye opening to the conditions here in Haiti.  The people have been wonderful to us and I pray that God will bless them and guide us down the road he wants us to go.

– MaryLynn Hilton

2016 Exploration Pilgrimage – Day 4: Dumont

Another beautiful day in Haiti.  Only Sue and I walked this morning.  Keith and Alix slept in – exhausted from the long day yesterday, maybe. 🙂  We did our normal 3 miles, but it was a much more quiet day on the road, as everyone was resting from their long day working at market yesterday.  Since we were all moving a little slower, we didn’t meet Father Max until around 10am in Les Cayes.  We followed him up the mountain to Dumont.  The roads were good until we got to the road to go up the mountain and then it was just dirt roads; so we bumped along very slowly along the ruts.  The village is small and the land is red dirt, full of rocks that the villagers are using to build walls, houses, etc.  The school is only from 1-3rd grade and they have no school building, so the classrooms are being held in the church.  There is no electricity or running water in the homes.  The presbytery has a generator that can last 5-7 hours, which allows the people to have a place to meet and socialize.  The toilets are just holes in the ground.  I meant to take a picture, as my small bladder has experienced the toilet at every village. 🙂   Father Max spoke English, so today was a little easier on Alix in translating for us.  We were privileged to meet the PPC – Parochial Parish Council – which is a group of adults from the community who work together for the good of the community.  This was a very impressive group of men and women, old and young.  We could tell they were very passionate about their community and it was obvious they were doing the best they could to support and advance the families in the community of Dumont.  Father Max also shared that he manages 4 other parishes and holds many other roles in Haiti to assist in improving the conditions in Haiti.  We toured the village and Father showed us the land that had been purchased to build a school on – if/when they get the money.  We also drove down to the shore, where Father has another parish.  This community was very, very poor.  The worst conditions we’ve seen so far.  The roads were so bad, that only a 4WD vehicle could pass and even that was very difficult.  Keith could have gone faster on his mountain bike.  Being so remote, makes this village so very difficult to support.  The land is rocky and not much will grow, so they survive by fishing and by the Grace of God.  There are no jobs, but Father Max has received money to build a church, so the locals are being paid to help build the church.  This gives them a way to earn money and give back to the community.

There is such a large need in Haiti – it is very easy to get overwhelmed at the need, but I am very excited that we have made a difference in the village of Boileau and we now have  the opportunity to make a difference in a new community.  And all of you who are reading these posts can help as well – with your prayers, with any contributions you would like to send and if you are interested in joining a committee to help us out – we would welcome it.  We need volunteers to help with communications, with fundraising, with improving our website, and the list goes on.  If you are interested in helping – please let me know.  The Haitian Pilgrims charity is a 501c3 and we serve the poorest of the poor in Haiti and do not discriminate on race, gender, or religious affiliation of those who request help.

– MaryLynn Hilton

2016 Exploration Pilgrimage – Day 3: Canon

We began the day again with a walk down the rocky road.   We’re walking about 3 miles every day.   The road was much busier today, as Wednesdays are market days in Cavaillon.  I wish I had brought my camera with me, so you could see all the people with their goods!  Everyone was friendly, except the cars and motorcycles – you better get out of the way, as the pedestrians do not have the right of way!

We were very worried that we were not going to be able to find the village of Canon, as it’s not on any map and we had not received any directions from the pastor and he was not answering his phone.  So Alix hired a young man on a motorcycle who knew the way, so we followed him.  It was quite an adventure as we drove down this very rocky, bumpy, pot holie road.  It would have been much faster and easier on the motorcycle – he was constantly having to wait for us, as it was very slow going.  We had to cross a river, which thank goodness wasn’t high.  You’ll see the pictures in the album.  The mountain village of Canon is beautiful and Father Josnell was a very warm host.  It was amazing to see how much this small young parish had accomplished in the 8 years since it became a parish.  There was a school from K-9th grade, but they were out of classrooms.  They have a 5 room school house, plus a building for kindergarten and another for 1-3rd. They were using the church as a classroom as well.  They had no electricity, and no running water. They had to walk several miles down the road with buckets to a well or walk down to the river (the village was on a cliff), as  you will see in the pictures.   There was no clinic and so any healthcare was a very long walk or motorcyle ride back to the closest village of Chantal.  Father Josnell had 4 other parishes he supported and with no vehicle, he has to walk 2-4 hours to get to his other parishes.  He has to visit each at least 4 times a year.  One of the parishes was not accessible by road, so walking was the only way.  Even though life there appeared very rough to us, all I could since from this humble man was he was at peace and that God takes care.  He said many times that God provided.  It has become very obvious to me that choosing a new village is going to be very tough – as all of them are in such need.  Please pray that God opens our eyes to the village that we can serve most fully.  Tomorrow is our 3rd and final village to explore.

– MaryLynn Hilton