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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Once upon an orphanage

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(5/2015) If youíve been reading my articles for the past year, you might remember me mentioning in passing my trips to Haiti, the trips that changed my life and showed me that fairy tales and "Once Upon a Times" donít have to consist of parties and glass slippers; they can happen in orphanages in third world countries.

. . .

Once upon a time, I fell in love with 33 children and an entire country over the period of one month. This past Christmas I spent 30 days working in Christian Light School and Childrenís Home in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. I just spent almost an hour looking back at my journal from my trip, and I canít think of a better way to explain my fairy tale than giving the world a look into my private thoughts.

So, hereís my fairytale:

December 19, 2014 (My Birthday)

Yesterday I made it to Haiti, but almost turned around and left before leaving the airport.

I made it through customs and, to my surprise, navigated pretty easily through the airport until I reached the exit where I was supposed to meet the driver from the school, who would be holding a sign. Iím 100% positive this doesnít sound as frightening to you as it was to me, but there was a crowd of people waiting who were either beggars who knew what time the airplanes landed (as the smallest international airport in the world, this isnít often) or people waiting, with and without signs, to pick others up. I stood inside the glass windows for a few minutes, not seeing my ride, before I walked outside to look more closely. As soon as I stepped outside, looking slightly lost, I was approached by an airport service man (#15) and an airport taxi man named Wendy. I told them who I was looking for and they tried to help. The service man looked around for me multiple times, while Wendy just stood by me insisting that my ride was not coming and that he would take me; it would not be too expensive.

An hour and a half had gone by when I finally decided it was time to give in and take a trip with Wendy. He had conveniently known exactly where my destination was before, but when we got in the truck he wasnít too sure.

Needless to say, the 10-minute trip took almost an hour as we stopped every three feet to ask if anyone knew where we were going. I eventually made it and walked in to the end of the kidsí Christmas program at the school.

December 22, 2014

I could talk for hours about each kid already; theyíre amazing.

This morning I went with the Little Angels Baby Feeders down to the ravine. I donít know if I can put the experience into words.

We walked into a tent city for the second stop Ė Iíve driven by the tent cities, but never walked into one. Itís crazy. Itís just pieces of metal and tarps all connected together in lines to form tents the size of two twin beds put together with walkways about 3-feet wide in between rows. The temperature rises and the smell is nearly unbearable. We made it to the back of this tent city and stopped outside of what is used as a church Ė itís a much larger tent with 12 wooden benches. There I witnessed an unexplainable kind of joy and love among children and adults alike. Itís hard to make sense of it, but I love it more than anything.

December 23, 2014

Hereís the image I want to remember forever when I think of Haiti:

Sampson running around the street in a manís dress shirt and nothing else, pulling two cars made of trash and having the absolute time of his life.

December 24, 2014 (Christmas Eve)

SO I WAS LYING DOWN AND LOOK UP AND THEREíS A COCKROACH THE SIZE OF CANADA ABOVE MY BED! It was horrifying, but today I spent almost seven hours with Nikkelange. I love her.

December 28, 2014

I get to spend every afternoon at the orphanage; this is the best life.

December 29, 2014

I just got back from baby feeding and have to share. Sampson almost broke my nose today, but the most incredible thing happened at the end of the second stop. All of the babies had been fed and there was some leftover food. There were three boys who had been standing next to me playing the hand game the whole time and they were probably 4, 5, and 6 years old. They were too old for the program but there was a piece of bread and half of a hard-boiled egg left at the end. My pastor, Iysmaell, handed the piece of bread to the oldest boy and the egg to the youngest boy. Without even looking around to see if the others had gotten food and/or how much they had gotten, both immediately split their food into three pieces and started handing it around until they all had an equal amount. Iíve never seen anything like it. These boys probably wouldnít eat again today and I watched half of an egg be split three ways. There is not an ounce of selfishness in these people.

Also, side note, today I played Bananagrams with Bernaldo. English is his third languageÖthe boy is a genius.

January 5, 2015

I came back after visiting Ken and Andreaís ministry for the weekend and had this weird fear that the kids would forget me after two days. They see so many teams come in and leave that theyíve gotten so good at moving on. But exactly the opposite happened. Nikkelange gave me an envelope with four letters and little presents in it. I literally sat in my room and then went to the roof and cried for a good half an hour. I canít imagine leaving these kids next week.

January 7, 2015

If a person asked me how many times Iíve read "The Grouchy Ladybug" to my class this week, I literally wouldnít be able to answer because the answer would exceed a million and Iím too tired to count that high.

January 15, 2015

I had to leave today. This was the most incredible experience.

. . .

That was my fairytale and will be my "Once Upon a Time" story for anyone who will listen to me talk about it years from now. That was the end of my greatest adventure.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary