Local Woman Heading to Haiti as a Volunteer

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A Salmon River woman is experiencing both excitement and anxiety as the time nears for her trip to the Caribbean. 

Judy Adams will be travelling to Haiti to do volunteer work for six months. She looks over the path of her journey while wearing a Haitian-made necklace made of tightly rolled strips of paper. Resting next to the globe is an ornamental star made in Haiti from old metal containers.

Judy Adams is heading south, but not to a tourist resort. She is going to spend six months on a missions trip to Haiti.

“This kind of fell into my lap,” she said, explaining that family members who had been to Haiti as part of a work team first mentioned they would be looking for a teacher in a Haitian community. This was followed by mention of it in a newsletter and Global Partners (a missionary program of the Wesleyan Church) contacting her to ask about what she had been doing recently.

“Things came together fast,” she said. “I leave around the first of January.

“I will be home schooling the children of a missionary couple there, Carl and Maya Gilles. I will also help with children’s programs and a sewing program, teach English as a second language to children and volunteer in a Mother Teresa orphanage. I took a medical first responder course in the spring so that I could help out at the medical centre there.”

She will be staying in Port-au-Prince but doing much of her work in a community called Babaco. In order to communicate with everyone she will be using English, French, Spanish and Creole. She is confident with her French when it comes to reading and speaking but expects understanding the dialect to be a challenge. Creole is a language she has been doing some work on every day in preparation for the trip.

Although they share the same island the Dominican Republic and Haiti are very different. In Haiti the life expectancy is shorter, the literacy rate is lower, electricity is unreliable and there is political unrest. The infant mortality rate in Haiti is 51 per cent, compared to 12 per cent in the Dominican Republic. The daily wage is $2, compared to $8. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

With a large coastline Haiti is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding. Deforestation is a major problem and rains wash away the top soil.

Adams has done missionary work in the past. She made two trips to New York City and two to Toronto to work with the homeless. She also did work in Jamaica and Peru.

“Peru was amazing,” she said. “I went with the Gideons and the reception of the people to the gospel was unreal. I love the Spanish language. I took it a couple of years at university but I crammed before that trip.”

Her son Nathan, his wife Jen and their son Josh went to Haiti as members of a work team and they told her that everyone on their flight was travelling to do humanitarian work.

“It’s difficult because if there is too much aid they become reliant on it,” she explained. “Our goal is to help them help themselves.

She will be able to get home for a two-week break part way through the six-month period, and in late April her husband Wayne plans to spend a week with her in Haiti.

She was concerned about not being around for the birth of two grandchildren, in January and June and the loss of her teaching job at the prison but doing the work in Haiti is important to her.

In order to raise about $11,000 to cover things such as her flights, room and board, insurance and immunizations she has been speaking at churches and selling peeler cards which offer special deals at local businesses.

Her last fundraising effort will be at a bazaar later this month. The event, being held at the Wesleyan Church on the evening of Nov 22 and throughout the day on Nov 23, is a fundraiser for several programs. A variety of items will be for sale and family photos will be taken for a donation.

“I expect to be homesick while I’m away but I love a new challenge and trying new things,” Adams added. “I never want to stop learning.”

Organizations: Wesleyan Church, Global Partners, Dominican Republic

Geographic location: Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Peru New York City Toronto Jamaica

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