Panama City! South Padre! Haiti? While most college students went to the typical party coves for spring break, a few extraordinary Bees went to a third-world country. Jean Hess, who works for student disabilities services and has been going to Haiti since 1991, took St. Ambrose’s inaugural trip, which included visiting an orphanage, building houses and opening the eyes of the students who went.
“It was one of the best trips I’ve been on,” Haiti-frequenter Hess said. “I’m not just saying that because it was the first Ambrose group, but really, there was no complaining and no whining from anybody who went.”
The group of Bees included Ally Hunter, Claire Opar, Jessica Smith, Anna Danielson, Katie Rosato and Sherry Spillman. They started their journey to Carrefour, the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, where they visited an orphanage sponsored by Lifeline Christian Mission-a not-for profit organization helping the people of Haiti and seven other countries.
“When we first got there, all I could think of was how poor all those people were,” first year Claire Opar said. “Then, after that first night, when we went to the orphanage and drove through the village, all I could see was love and hope. That was awesome.”
They then moved further into the country to Grand Goave and rose with the sun every morning to build houses and only rested when it went down at night. They completed two houses and started on a third.
“Building the houses was one of the most physically challenging things I have ever done,” junior Ally Hunter said. “I was assigned to build up in the mountains on the side of a hill. We carried about 600 blocks similar to cinder blocks down multiple steep hills in the afternoon heat. The children and their smiling faces kept us motivated.”
They brought 33 duffle bags of needed items to give to the Haitians. The group attended church services with the locals, as well as learning a bit of Creole, the native language, and digging into the culture, like trying coconut milk straight out of the coconut.
“We did various work and ministry projects ranging from painting church benches, helping distribute food and formula for the toddler and infant nutrition programs, working in the clothes and shoes pantries distributing items to those in need, and building houses,” Hunter said. “Their love for God and faith in prayer was really inspiring. Their worship, not only in church but in their everyday lives, was truly inspiring to me.”
The spring break trip took more than a year to plan and Hess said she had been planning one ever since she got to Ambrose in 1998.
“I knew I wanted to lead a group,” she said. “I kept talking and talking about it and then they came to me and asked me if I
wanted to lead a trip. Of course I did!”
By the sounds of it, she might be leading a few more groups in the future.
“Haiti is beautiful in its own way, student Anna Danielson said. “In the week we spent there I felt connected to the people. I can’t wait to go back. I need to go back. Haiti has become a part of me.”