Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meeting Daniela

In April we traveled to Haiti to meet Daniela for the first time. Our flight from Seattle didn't leave exactly on time.  That meant that we would not have time to sleep in Miami before continuing on to Haiti.  Then, the airline that goes to Haiti called, and told us that our flight to Haiti would be leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, and not out of Miami as we had booked.

Getting on the small plane
 to Haiti was interesting.  We boarded 2 hours later than we were supposed to, with no reasons given. The only thing they seem to care about is your weight (they weigh you on the luggage scale).  Your baggage is never checked for rocket launchers or hand grenades.  Of course there are no bathrooms on this short flight, but one experienced traveler brought his own plastic bag (aka: Stadium Buddy) so that he was prepared when he needed to go.

Our flight was scheduled to be 2 hours, and fly direct from Ft. Lauderdale to Cap Hatien.  We'd been awake for about 26 hours when we boarded the plane, so I nodded off eventually.  As we landed, Tina asked me where Exuma is.  She pointed to the sign that read, "Welcome to Exuma International Airport."  I replied that it must be the name of the airport in Cap Haitien.  Wrong.

We had landed in the Bahamas.  It seems they weighed us originally so they would know how much fuel they could carry.  Evidently, with my fat butt on board they could not hold enough fuel to make it to Haiti.  We took off and flew for another hour and a half to Haiti. Our scheduled arrival was 8 AM.  Our actual arrival was noon.

It was comforting to see the local fire department was prepared for any mishap.

Arriving at the orphanage, and seeing Daniela for the first time is a moment I'll never forget.  She was promptly handed over to Tina, and curled up in the comfort of her mother's arms. 
 We spent 9 days with Daniela, and it was awesome. 

We even had the chance to meet Daniela's aunt, and 4 of her 5 cousins.  They had tried to care for Daniela for 3 months after Daniela's mom died.  When we arrived at their home, they called the neighbors to come and see the baby. They were amazed that she was still alive!

This family made many sacrifices to care for Daniela, and many decisions that would prove to save her life. We will always be grateful!

We are currently working with the people of Compassion International to try and get this family enrolled in the Child Sponsorship program.  If that happens, this family will get some desperately needed help.

I will post more about our experience in Haiti later. If you have ever traveled to Haiti, or to any other nation with extreme poverty, we would love to hear your comments about how it impacted you.