Testimonial From Rose
Hi, my name is Rose. In February 2017 my daughter and I were volunteers with GLA in Haiti. This was our first time volunteering. It was a very rewarding experience. I learned that I could actually play, and I could remember more high school French than I thought. We were well looked after in the guesthouse. The most difficult part of our experience was navigating the airport. We were met by the GLA driver, who safely transported us to the guesthouse. Our accommodations were clean and adequate. Remember this is a 3rd world country. We always had clean water to drink, and enough food,
The power and internet can be unreliable but worked while we were there.
I enjoyed playing with the children and bonded with a few favourites. As a retired nurse I had to "get over" no report, no name bands, bed tags etc. This is the children's home, not an institution. We are just a moment in time in the children's lives, which made saying goodbye hard. We hoped that the future volunteers cared as much as we did.
I hope to return to Haiti, not sure when, but am starting to plan a trip to GLA with some of my nieces. If you are considering doing this I say go for it. I heard about GLA through some co-workers who had volunteered.
Testimonial From Naomi
My name is Naomi Froese. I have been to GLA in Haiti four times. The first time I went for three months, the second time I went for a week with a team from my church; the third time I went for another six weeks by myself, and my fourth time was for a week to help as they were preparing to move their main baby house to their Fort Jacques location. The majority of my time at GLA has been spending one on one time with the babies in the baby house. Some of my favourite highlights of being at GLA have been pool days with the babies, going for walks around the neighborhood, and of course all the sweet baby cuddles.
Every morning you wake up to the sounds of Haiti waking up, Tim and Melissa making breakfast and the guest house getting ready for the day. After breakfast I would walk down the hill with the other volunteers to the main house where I would greet the cooks and nannies as I walked in. Then, once I’d put my stuff on the balcony I would go and get my first baby of the day, and so my day would begin. As an individual volunteer my time has mostly been spent with the babies. I would take one child at a time and spend an hour to an hour and a half with that child, giving them one on one attention and love. As well working on different developmental milestones with them. After my time was up, I would bring that child back to the nursery and get my next one and so on and so forth. On the balcony of the old main house, I have so many memories. Memories of all the precious little angels I had to opportunity to love on, all the people I met and friends I made, and the many, many pool days. Two days of the week we would get to go hang out with the older kids at the toddler house. I love hanging out with those kids. I’ve played tag, ran races, and done hand stands with them. The girls, and the boys too actually, loved playing with my hair. Hearing the stories of the different children and how they came to be at GLA is sometimes really hard to hear but it makes all the difference when you know a bit about their past. For me, it makes me love deeper and it makes me pray harder. Another memory I have on the balcony is the many church services, there is just something about singing songs to the Lord under the open sky with the mountains all around you; it’s surreal, truly!
I first heard about GLA through the community VBS in my town. Melissa Friesen has family close to where I live and her cousin was doing a fundraiser to raise money for GLA. I decided that I wanted to go to Haiti and work with the children and GLA seemed like the perfect place. I was nervous about going but I was welcomed so warmly and I right away felt at home. Being there only a couple days and I fell in love, and once I fell in love I had to keep coming back. The beauty of Haiti is something I never grow tired of. I love the mountains, the greenery, and the crazy winding roads with the crazy driving. I love watching the children in their school uniforms as they walk to and from school. I love walking up and down the hill, to and from the old main house and guesthouse. While being at GLA is a wonderful experience there are challenges that come with it too. As a long term volunteer there are many people who come through the guesthouse. It was a challenge for me to learn how to work with all the different personalities and I learned to give grace and to give it quickly and freely. This I would say, the constant meeting of new people and trying to figure out how to work with them is one of the biggest challenges you will face as a volunteer. Every time that I have gone to Haiti and spent time at GLA God has always taught me something. I’ve learned that it’s important to allow God to use every experience and encounter as an opportunity to grow more into who He wants me to be. One other challenge that I have found, which will probably be a surprise, is the going home. For myself I often times find the adjustment back home is harder than the adjustment there. Most people would think that wouldn’t be but for me, once I’ve seen how life is in Haiti, when I’ve heard the stories of the children and when I’ve held them in my arms, it is impossible to forget it. And going home is hard because it is a lot of work to process all of that and to figure out what that is going to mean for me now that I’m back home.
I would strongly encourage anyone to go on a mission trip, especially to a third world country like Haiti. If you let it, and this is the key, if you let it, it will forever change how you see things. You will go home changed in a good way. I encourage you to build relationships with the Haitians staff as well as the American staff. They are fantastic people who work so hard, they see a lot of people coming and going and it is nice when you go out of your way to greet them in the morning or thank them for the food. They do appreciate it. And if you don’t know how to say anything to them smile, a smile says a thousand words. Something to keep in mind before you go, remember to be flexible. This is so important, things change and sometimes they can literally change five minutes before you were about to leave, you have to be flexible. Be open to trying new things, recognize that you are being given a lot more than what most people in Haiti have, be grateful! Above all, remember that you are there to serve, you are there to help wherever they need you, be willing to do whatever is required even if it wasn’t what you had originally thought you would be doing. Have fun! Laugh! Go with the flow! Be open to whatever you may experience and what God wants to teach you through that experience! It’s amazing! It’s life changing!