It was one of the hardest “going back home” to Haiti last July. There are no words to explain how I felt when I saw the collapsed buildings, churches, and the white house, sides of mountains – just like in a war zone. I knew that there were many family members and friends still under the rubble. The most difficult was looking at the sea of white tents and blue tarps with no end in site – under the 93 degree F tropical heat with no trees or any type of shade. Passing through the town of Bizoton, I did not want to see the destruction of the 9 homes that I had personally built for my own relatives.
In La Vallee de Jacmel, the destruction was less evident, but well hidden. Most of the homes were one room homes with an outdoor kitchen and a latrine sparsely placed in the mountainous region. The people were barely surviving, I am sure that they were rebuilt at the expense of food to feed the children. Another problem was that the average family of 5 grew to about 15 to 20 due to an exodus of refugees fleeing Port-au-Prince. We now have over 5,000 youths along with no place to live, quickly changing the social milieu, with many rapes being reported and prostitution on the rise.
The ATFT Foundation (charitable arm of the Association for Thought Field Therapy) provided a generous grant and the gracious help of a husband and wife team Dr. Howard and Nurse Phyll Robson, both TFT trainers from England, we provided a 3-day training involving 30 Haitian as teachers, nurses, community leaders, medical and nursing students, from as far as Port-au-Prince.
The training not only helped them personally but also gave them the opportunity to help relieve the trauma of as many earthquake survivors as possible. Even more importantly, trainees learned techniques on how to relieve pain, which would be beneficial in an area when medical personal and pain relief medications are scarcely available.
We also celebrated the 9th annual International Children Holiday for Peace in 10 different locations, involving 2,300 children. This special day was established in 2003 to give a holiday to the poor children throughout the 18 villages that comprise the county of La Vallee de Jacmel. It is a day when the children can paint murals; eat a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack; drink water that they did not have to fetch; dance and sing; listen to music; and recite poetry, etc involving 2,300 children.
Our main star, the 10 year old Ally Woodard, the Art Miles Mural Project Ambassador and Art Miles Shoes of Hope Ambassador, a real trooper, entertained the children, played with them and distributed shoes, T-shirts, and many toys that she collected for them.