A Note From a Haitian Girl – I Want You to Be My Friend For Ever and Ever

A few of my family members recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti.  Seeing their photos and reading their stories has left me with Haiti on the brain even more than usual, so I thought I’d share a touching story of my own.

I was blessed to be part of a team that traveled to Haiti in March of 2012.  There were thirteen of us.  The team was comprised of five family members, seven members from my hometown church, and myself.  It was a good mix of young and old, guys and gals, the medically trained (two nurses and a doctor) and the clinically insane (my mother).

team squirt

Our group was affectionately dubbed as “Team Squirt” after the majority of us were stricken with giardia and experienced severe bouts of explosive diarrhea when we returned to the States.  It was pretty awesome – the trip, not the explosive diarrhea – but it was a very small price to pay in exchange for the time we spent with the beautiful Haitian people.

Team Squirt stayed at an orphanage in the city of Cap-Haitien for a week.  Our primary objective was to provide food and medical relief to the needy, and to help around the orphanage where needed. At least that was the rest of the team’s objective.  My objective was to introduce the orphanage kids to old school hip-hop and R&B artists, and to hold late night dance-offs, perfecting dance moves like the Moonwalk and the Cabbage Patch with the children.

Dance Party 4
One of our evening dance parties at the orphanage.  I brought my wireless, bluetooth speakers and loaded my iPod with jams.  The kids placed the speakers up in the rafters and we danced the night away on tables.

Dance Party 1
We took our translators and their respective families out to dinner one night at a nice restaurant.  After dinner, the sun went down and the dance party fired up.  We danced for well over an hour, having the time of our lives.

Dance Party 6
The youngest member of the dance crew, but don’t be fooled.  This little girl was all spunk and brought some legit moves to the dance floor.

Dance Party 3
Me teaching sweet, little Jacqueline how to do the “Shimmy Shake.”  He laughed at first, but after a while I think he grew concerned for my well being.

three amigos
Some of the teenage members of the dance crew. They tried to teach me how to Dougie, but after six days and five nights of failed attempts, they eventually submitted to the fact that I’m white.

Mission accomplished.  Both objectives were met.  Team Squirt fed the hungry by day and busted a move by night.  We were some real rice providing, vitamin distributing, Dougie dancing fools that week.  I’m pretty sure the kids at the orphanage and the members of the surrounding community had not experienced a group like ours in quite some time, if ever.  A week wasn’t nearly long enough, though.  We had a tough time saying goodbye when it was time to part our separate ways.

One of the teenage girls at the orphanage especially had a tough time saying goodbye.  I saw her on the last night, slinking off into the shadows, completely withdrawn to herself.  She was at a loss for words, so she had her friend slip me this note that was folded up into a neat, little square with her name, Eve, scrawled on the front.  I waited to read the note until I was on the plane ride home.  I carefully unfolded it and here is what the note read:


I don’t see any word to say goodbye tonight beau because you are a special friend for me.  I want to see you next time again.  I want you to know that you are in my prayer and in my mind.  I want you to be my friend for ever and ever.

It was a short plane ride home but long enough for me to catch my breath and to reflect on the trip that had just taken place.  The note just confirmed what I had already suspected of the Haitian people.  They are just like everyone else in this world.  They only want a chance to be loved and to feel special.  The bags of rice, the toothbrushes, the donated clothing – that’s all nice.  It helps to meet their physical needs, but what Team Squirt was able to provide went beyond that.  We provided them with emotional support and a spark of hope.  We made them feel loved.

The Haitian people are truly special and I’m happy that I had the chance to make some new friends.  Friends that I intend to keep for ever and ever if I have it my way.

Note From A Haitian Girl

Select Photos

It seems like everyone is a photographer nowadays.  Every time I get on Facebook, somebody has started a new photography business.  It use to annoy me – buy a nice camera, aim it at some pretty stuff, and suddenly that makes you a professional photographer –  but now I think it’s great.  I say the more photographers the merrier, because the saying “it’s a small world after all,” that’s just some bullshit Disney saying that somebody made up anyhow.  It’s a great, big, ginormous world after all, and there’s not enough time for a person to see everything.  So when somebody can take some nice photos and really capture a moment, take you to the top of a 15,000 foot cliff, or place you along a peaceful river bank to watch the sunrise, I’m all for it.

Go on shutterbugs.  Fire away.  I just have one bone to pick, however.   If you insist on incorporating a flower into your logo, or if you dot your i’s with hearts, or if your flyer looks like an 8 year old made it during arts and crafts at summer camp for mentally challenged children, than I can’t take your photography business seriously.   Sorry.  That’s just the way it is.  Maybe you should take up selling scented candles or tupperware instead.  Oh my gosh, was that mean?  I’m sorry.  I woke up at, like, 4 o’clock this morning and I have to work all day today with these folks from Toronto.  Ugh.  Folks from Toronto.

I’m not a professional photographer, but I do enjoy having an excuse to get outside and to see things in a different light, so I take photos from time to time.  Feel free to steal them and use them for whatever.  And if you’d like a high res photo, shoot me a message and I’m sure we could work it out.  Like maybe a high res photo for an Arby’s sandwich, or something like that.  I’m a pretty reasonable guy AS LONG AS IT’S NOT 4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING.  Gotta go.  Toodles (by the way, is that not the worst expression ever?  Toodles.” Talk about a total barf-o-rama.  I think it’s time to go get some coffee now…)

September 19, 2010
Sunrise at Moraine State Park
Portersville, PA

March 4, 2010
The Coliseum
Rome, Italy
Taken during a two week vacation to Italy with my Mom.

March 20, 2011
Cap Haitien, Haiti
Taken during a one week medical and food relief mission trip to Haiti.

November 27, 2009
The Glessner Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge Road
Stonycreek, PA

November 12, 2010
Field in Shanksville, PA

September 26, 2010
Sacred Heart Parish Catholic Church
310 Shady Ave
Pittsburgh, PA

September 20, 2011
Goldenrod Field
Lake Arthur Water Tower
Portersville, PA

October 31, 2011
Town fair at Basel, Switzerland

March 21, 2011
St. Thomas More Church
126 Fort Couch Rd
Pittsburgh, PA
Taken during scouting for the movie “The Perks of Being A Wallflower.”

July 31, 2010
Wolf Rocks Hiking Trail
Linn Run State Park
Ligonier, PA

September 21, 2010
Dawn at Raccoon Creek State Park
Clinton, PA

October 11, 2011
Skull Bluff
Buffalo River National Park

March 20, 2011
Cap Haitien, Haiti
Taken during a one week medical and food relief mission trip to Haiti.

January 9, 2010
Laurel Mountain Ski Resort
Ligonier, PA

June 24, 2012
Windmill Farm
Wills Church Rd
Somerset, PA