(Note from the editor: Rose Ayers-Etherington). The following article was written by long-time Maverick Member #35 Douglas Doebler. Doug has played a huge part in bringing hope and healing to the people of Haiti, and in the process of organizing these trips, has positively affected all Mavericks involved. After reading his article, I hope you are as “blown away” as I am by his tenacious spirit and relentless, compassionate mission to bring ever-lasting change to Haiti.
On May 8-11 2013, a group of Mavericks along with hosts Yanik Silver, Hope To Haiti Director Scott Bonnell and Philanthro-capitalist Frank McKinney paid Haiti a little visit for the 3rd time. Our adventure began after we were picked up from our hotel by a zebra-painted monster hummer limo, which dropped us off at a pool-side dinner at Frank’s multi million dollar Delray Beach, Florida oceanfront home on Wednesday evening. Our 27 person team made up of Mavericks and Frank’s Caring House Project Foundation Donors shared dinner and fellowship before our early AM departure for Haiti.
Upon our arrival, we were immediately whisked off to our first stop: The Hope To Haiti Kay Espwa II Orphanage just outside Haiti’s capital Port Au Prince. Such a contrast to our previous evening near Palm Beach. As we looked upon the orphanage kids who were lined up awaiting our arrival, our first thought was “what do we do now?” It did not take much to connect with them. We broke out some of the toys we had brought and filled the school yard with soccer games, beach balls and fun for everyone. The children along with our team soaked up the attention and love shared by everyone. We presented the 28 orphans with the backpacks filled with school supplies, games and toys we had carried from the USA. For some of the children, that backpack might be their only possession. There were smiles everywhere.
1st Stop Kay Espwa II Orphanage just outside Port Au Prince Haiti
Our next stop was at Cabaret: a village that the Caring House Project had built in 2008 and the Mavericks had visited in 2012. It didn’t take long for the guys to kick up a basketball game. I’ve been to this village four times since it’s dedication in 2008, and was overwhelmed at the progress of construction I saw around our little village of new homes. A new school, playground, full size basketball court, water tower and new neighborhoods had popped up all over what used to be an empty, rugged hillside.
After some time, we moved on to our hotel for our two nights in Haiti. Our beachfront resort had been a Club Med many years ago. Oh if those walls could talk! A quick check in, dip in the ocean and off we went to the local St Marc Charcoal market. I think our group was stunned as their senses were ambushed by what they saw and smelled. It only took a few minutes until we were playing with the kids at the seaside market; tossing a ball into the harbor as they jumped into the highly polluted water to play catch. Back to the hotel for a nice dinner (felt a bit guilty eating so well after what we had experienced that day). Yanik reminded us of something Frank had mentioned the year prior “You should not weaken the strong in order to strengthen the weak. The stronger and more successful we are the better we can serve others.” A few beers and a good nights rest was well deserved.
We had an early AM departure for the new village at Parish Of The Cross. Off we went to tour and dedicate this new 50 house village partially funded by Mavericks. Our 1 1/2 hour ride through the small villages, packed markets and rice fields of rural Haiti was an adventure for our eyes. After a turn off the main road and a ride up rough dirt roads for what seemed like 30 minutes, we arrived at Parish Of The Cross built by The Caring House Project Foundation and Hope To Haiti. We were greeted with singing, dancing and lots of hugs from the locals. We settled in under a tarp to listen to speeches by the village elders and to present the new home owners with the keys to their new homes. Fifty new homes with goats and fruit trees, many latrines and a large new meeting hall to be used for a school and church. We spent the afternoon interacting with the villagers, being shown around the village, playing games in the field and distributing more school supplies and toys to the children.
It was hot – probably close to 100 degrees. I grabbed a bottle of cold water from our cooler, ducked under a tree and enjoyed the breeze. I had an overwhelming sense of emotion, pride and accomplishment as I observed this new village in it’s completed state. Less than a year ago, Scott Bonnell, Frank McKinney and I viewed photos of the mud huts – most with sagging roofs from years of rainfall – and a church service which at the time was being held under a tarp held up by tall sticks. Today this village has solid concrete homes with metal roofs and basic sanitation. Our 2012 Maverick Trip participants donations had partially brought this village into full circle. In 2012 and 2013 each traveler donated $4,900 for the three day trip to Haiti. That donation covered travel expenses and enough to fund the construction of a complete new home in Haiti. Another village is soon to be started with the donations from this 2013 trip. Since 2003 Frank McKinney and the Caring House Project Foundation have built Twenty self sufficient villages in Haiti – close to 1000 new homes to shelter 8,800+ people!
End of the day ride back to the hotel. Stop for gas and refreshments in Maverick style – Ben Roy, Jordan and Paola Guernsey
At one point, Frank McKinney pulled everyone together to tell us that the orphanage we had visited the day prior desperately needed funding assistance. To feed the 28 children, keep a simple roof over their little heads and provide a basic education runs $1,500 per month. Frank asked if anyone in the group wanted to take on a months costs. As is typical, every one of the VERY GENEROUS Mavericks jumped up and provided between one and five months coverage for the orphanage. Director Scott Bonnell’s eyes teared up as he watched our team provide Sixteen months of full cost coverage for the orphanage, which included funding for new bunk beds and mattresses for all 28 children. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the raw emotions but the job got done in grand Maverick style.
Back to the hotel we went for another hop in the ocean, followed by an Authentic Haitian Dinner and reflections under the stars of what we had experienced on this trip and what we were going to do about it after we got back. Frank reminded us that “Compassion Without Action Is Just A Waste Of Emotion!” Strong Emotions we all felt and action we did take. Many of the Mavericks who participated in the 2011 and 2012 Maverick Haiti Impact trips have been “tapped” enough to support additional efforts in Haiti.
I encourage you to consider joining Yanik and the other Mavericks on these yearly IMPACT trips. Many thanks to our 2013 Maverick trip participants: Yanik Silver, Doug Doebler, Tom Puentes, Jordan and Paola Guernsey, Mykola and Tatiana Latansky and Ben and Sarah Roy. Also joining us was Garrett Goldsmith: past Underground Seminar Scholarship winner. An additional thanks to Maverick Mark Evans for funding the orphanage feeding. For more information on our Haiti efforts contact me at Doug@DougDoebler.com or text/cell 585-721-9922.