Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mission Trip to Haiti Is a Chance to Help, Learn

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mission Trip to Haiti Is a Chance to Help, Learn

Article excerpt

Byline: Brent Beaird

Editors Note: My Clay Sun sports columnist Brent Beaird recently took a break from Clay County sports to participate in a week-long mission trip to Haiti, along with his wife, Connie, and children, Shannon and Loribeth. Here is his report:

Our 10-member team, led by the Rev. David Garrett, director of church community ministries for the Jacksonville Baptist Association, worked in and around the Cabaret Baptist Children's Home, which is about 18 miles northwest of Port au Prince. Beginning in 1998, the association built and has maintained the orphanage, which currently houses 47 children and has a church and a school of 200 students.

The country collectively continues to rebuild from the devastating earthquake that leveled many of its buildings and took too many lives on Jan. 12. While traveling along the road to the children's home, you can see examples of the rebuilding, with two buildings standing and a third still in ruins in the same block.

I used to roll my eyes when my father talked about getting up with the sun and the chickens. Well, we did the same thing in Haiti. The rooster started crowing at 4 a.m. and the sun was shining by 5 a.m. One morning, a "Dr. Doolittle" symphony was provided by the roosters, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cow. Our daily routine involved whatever manual labor was needed to aid the orphanage, school or church. This meant digging ditches, removing fencing, painting or simply spending time with the children.

Air conditioning is a luxury anywhere, especially in Haiti. If you think it is hot here, then add at least 10 more degrees to get the temperature in Haiti. The heat is oppressive at times. There were battery-powered fans and an occasional cooling thunderstorm that helped us get to sleep at night. After sunset, mosquitoes and bugs in Haiti are constant pests. If they ganged up, I'm convinced the moths are big enough to carry off a small dog or cat. We had indoor plumbing and electricity, but power outages were frequent.

Much to my chagrin, I was not able to introduce college football to Haiti. They prefer the soccer ball to the pigskin. As we worked around the compound, the security guards listened to the FIFA World Cup on the radio. …

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