By Brian Koonce
CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti – A team from Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty just returned from ministering to orphans in the still-devastated nation of Haiti.
The Pleasant Valley team flew into Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and rode a bus across the border into Haiti. They worked and stayed at an orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets, a city about 10 miles outside of Port-au-Prince.
Normally the orphanage houses 75 children, but after the recent earthquake, its population has swelled to nearly 200.
“It’s become a Transitional Orphan Village,” said team member Angie Watts. “We were basically there to just love on the children. There is no school for now so they’re just roaming the streets. We played with them, sang songs, taught Bible stories, and painted the girls’ nails. We just let them know they’re cherished and loved.”
Pleasant Valley had been working on building relationships for the church’s missions efforts before the earthquake with Global Orphan Project, so when the quake struck, it was only natural that the church wanted to help out immediately. They did not even meet as a team until they met at the airport.
“Everyone stepped up to the plate, and it was the best team I’ve been on,” Watts said. “Only God could have done that.”
Of the 12 people on the Pleasant Valley team, three were nurses that could help tend to the children’s medical needs, and two of the team members were actually born in Haiti and were able to translate Creole for the group. The two Haitians also guided the group to a local church were they worshiped.
Watts said the poverty and devastation – even that not related to the earthquake – was startling.
“The Dominican Republic is gorgeous with lush palm trees everywhere,” she said. “But as soon as you passed a rickety fence, the road was lined with shacks and you could see how deprived and malnourished even the land was.”
Despite the poverty and added pain and suffering caused by the earthquake, Watts said the children were fun-loving and upbeat.
“You never would have known they went through the most traumatic experience of their lives,” she said. “They weren’t complaining, they were playing like happy kids.”
Because the team was ministering to orphans at an established site and not bringing the children out of Haiti for adoption, they had no concerns that they would run into high-profile troubles like the Idaho missionaries who were arrested trying to cross the border soon after the earthquake struck.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone here warned us not to take a kid across the border, we would have had no trouble paying for everyone’s trip,” Watts said.
Pleasant Valley is sending two more teams to the orphanage in the coming months: a second in March and one in April.