Yesterday we had the opportunity to make our way into Menelas, which had been one of the aspects of the trip I was most looking forward to. If you have had or get a chance to go with Work into Menelas on multiple occasions, there are always differences and improvements to see with each visit. With each of these improvements there is a combination of pride, humility, and accomplishment in the eyes those in the community, the Work families, and the staff. There is not a sight like it - the sunrises and sunsets, coastal views, mountains and valleys but none of that, while amazing, compares.
First we visited one of Works’ classrooms and met many of the students that participate in their after-school programs, we stopped by Carmitha’s store that has been undergoing an expansion to accommodate the growth of her business, next was Giordani’s house that he has been building over the last two years with the money he has earned from the Run Across Haiti®, then our final stop was seeing a plot of land recently purchased by Work that will be a future classroom/community center for Menelas where Vivien shared the vision of the community and the organization.
This time in Menelas is always critical. It is not just to become more acquainted with Work’s mission and programs, but the final two days of the Run Across Haiti® can be the most brutal of the trip. Following our rest day we have a 27-mile run to Port-au-Prince, about a 12-hour rest depending on our finish time, and then we have the 52-mile run to Jacmel beginning at midnight. The last two days can take everything mentally and physically. The trip to Menelas fresh in our hearts reinvigorates that purpose of what we are doing when we hit the moments of difficulty during the run. It is that sense of pride and accomplishment that we witnessed from everyone in Menelas that will carry us through to Jacmel and builds an anticipation of what our current efforts may do for future accomplishments.
For returning for my 3rd Run Across Haiti®, it has still presented itself as a new adventure. To make preparations for the run in February to then have the run delayed for three months, added some uncertainty and difficulty. The first two days of the run has aligned as a metaphor for the past 9 months. We covered 45 miles and scaled a mountain for the past two days reflecting the struggle for the greater part of the last year. As we scaled the last part of the mountain today, the valley that we had began in earlier in the morning was blanketed by high fog. More fog than there has been in the past two years. The fog was clouding the last nine months, it was not much to look at and enabled, at least for me, the opportunity to look forward to the rest of the run and the purpose for us being here...to show that Haiti is to not be feared or pitied and to end poverty through good, dignified jobs.
It has been a blessing to be a part of an amazing group of individuals with a common purpose, in a beautiful country. Being the 5th year of the run, participating in my 3rd, there are less looks of confusion from the locals we pass by and more smiles and bonjours. It provides a welcoming feeling and an added source of inspiration to keep placing one step forward until we reach Jacmel.