Our journey will be to the amazing country of Haiti. This journey is happening in collaboration with Haiti Allies, a Madison based non-profit started by Perennial member Bryan Sirchio in 1999. Bryan is the spouse of Perennial’s founder, Meg Sirchio, and he has been working with grass roots organizations in Haiti since 1990. Bryan has traveled to Haiti over 70 times and has led over 40 groups to this incredibly rich and intriguing country. Haiti Allies refers to these trips as “journeys of mutual exchange” in order to underscore the priority placed on being open to receiving the many gifts the Haitian people and culture offered to those who venture to this beautiful island. We will of course offer gifts of service ourselves, but the overriding experience of most travelers on these trips is that we inevitably wind up receiving so much more than we give.
After arriving in Port au Prince, we will begin the journey with a brief tour of the capital city and then travel to a small mountain village outside Port au Prince where we will experience the gentle rhythm of rural life, receive a cultural and historical orientation, and enjoy the hospitality and warmth of the people in this village. This is a restful and slow-paced time in which we will get to know some Haitian people, learn some basic Haitian Kreyol phrases and customs, catch up with our own hearts and minds, get to know each other, hear Haitian music and drumming, and maybe even learn a few Haitian songs and dances. Activities in the village vary from trip to trip, but often include making coffee from scratch as rural Haitians do, making peanut butter, and learning about Haitian voodoo. The accommodations will be rustic, but we’ll be safe and welcome and experience the authentic and healing magic of Haitian hospitality.
After this initial orientation, we will return to the city and move into Walls International Guest house, a modest but secure and friendly guest house that will be our home for the remainder of the journey.
Our daily activities in Port au Prince will include a number of different adventures and experiences. Haiti Allies’s methodology always involves a combination of working with our hands, hearts, and minds. The hands on/service component of the adventure will depend in part on the skills and interests of our group and also on what’s happening in the country when we are there. But these experiences typically include volunteering at an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity (the sisters of Mother Teresa), volunteering at a hospice-like facility also run by the Missionaries of Charity called the “Home for the Dying and the Destitute,” and volunteering at a school supported by Haiti Allies in one of Port au Prince’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Most evenings we will also have meetings with Haitian friends and leaders who will teach us about various aspects of life in Haiti.