DAY 6—Rest Day in Menelas and Truttier
We made it to rest day! Rest day is widely considered a holiday by our runners and crew. We visited Menelas and Truttier—the communities we work in as a team. It’s a reality check for sure, but an awesome reminder of why we’re running, and who were running for. We met Giordani’s beautiful family, and met men and women who’s lives have been changed by the jobs we’re able to create through this Run. When we start each day with an emphatic “POU AYITI!”, this is what we’re talking about.
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Today was rest day and we visited the family members we support in Menelas and the bordering community of Truttier. Vivien told stories of how Work was founded when Ian helped Tassy who lived in Cite Soleil get a tumor removed from his face. His surgery was successful and he now lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and son. Another man had injured his hand severely while working, but had no choice but to continue work because he did not have access to medical care, which costs anywhere from $0.25 cents to $5 dollars for an initial consultation. Case after case, there was a pattern of lack of resources and knowledge for basic needs. Once Work was able to get our family members healthy, they asked them, “what do you need, what do you want us to help you with?” And the answer was simple, they wanted to work, to have a sustainable job so that they can eventually take care of their families on their own and put food on the table.
This year we already have a few families that are ready to graduate from our job training and placement programs, which means all health concerns have been addressed, all the children are in school and other basic needs such as debt and housing have been taken care of. They no longer rely on Work financially, however the relationship between our families continue as we hold hands and extend our programs to the next family who needs help.
I remember feeling so many emotions last year, overwhelmed by the task that seemed so big and unsurmountable. I questioned if running across the country is really making a difference in the lives of our families in Menelas. Today, as we visited and walked through not only Menelas, but Truttier (which was previously segregated), I saw how our Work is directly impacting the lives of the people. New school rooms were being built, bricks were being laid, and more street lights were installed for better safety. These are tangible changes, things that have improved from just one year ago, things that wouldn’t have changed if we ignored the problem.
As we go into Day 7 of running, a double-run of 80 miles to the finish line in Jacmel, I will be running for these changes. Vivien said when she first met Giordanni, one of our family members and crew on the run across Haiti, he would not look people in the eye because of the shame he felt for being unable to care for his family. They lived in a tent and when it rained, his family would stand under trees until it stopped. Today, Giordanni has built a foundation for his house, has 7 children, is training to become a taxi driver, and has the biggest smile and loudest cheer for the runners at the checkpoints. He stands tall with confidence and shares his gratitude and love for all of us, the supporters, friends and family who have contributed and helped him and his family thrive. We will face hardships in life, we will want to quit, and tomorrow as we run through the heat our minds and bodies will get tired. During those moments, I hope we will all remind ourselves of what we saw and felt today in Menelas and Truttier, the faces of the people who are working relentlessly and the fathers, mothers and children who are not giving up despite the conditions they live in. So let’s keep working as a team supporting one another, figuring out how to overcome obstacles that will come our way and make a commitment to complete the mission despite the pain.
Today is Rest Day. It’s the day that we go into Menelas and Truttier so that the runners can see firsthand the communities they are running across the entire country to support. For me, it’s a chance to again see the families that welcomed me into their homes a few years ago as one of Team Tassy-now-Work’s first employees.
My initial visits to Menelas were spent sitting in family homes asking them about their needs. Those first few trips were overwhelming to say the least. Their needs were (and in some cases still are) vast. Most families had a member in need of immediate medical attention. Few kids were in school. No one had enough money to consistently put food on the table. Some of the houses were no more than a tarp over crumbling cement blocks.
When we visited today, Giordanni showed us the foundation for the house he’s building for his family. None the kids were at home because they were exactly where they should be—all in school. Some of the adults weren’t there because they were at their jobs or training programs. Every family member has a card that they can bring to Menelas’ Hospital Fontaine to not only get the care they need, but where the physician there can reference the chart containing their medical history.
These were the needs Work’s families told me about when I met them. To see their smiling faces today and hear how well they’re doing was emotional to say the least. To hear that several families have approached Work to let them know they’re ready to graduate because they have jobs and can care for their families on their own and want Work to begin to help their neighbors in Menelas and Truttier…well, I don’t quite have words for that.
Rest Day Eve—Favorite Holiday (Day 5)
It's difficult to describe how surreal the past few days have been, but I will do my best. We had an incredibly beautiful 20 mile run along the water from Saint-Marc to Wahoo Bay Resort where we were welcomed by the cheer squad bearing gifts of cow bells, Pringles, pickles and ice cold Prestige! The cheer squad joined us just in time for Rest Day Eve which some refer to as their favorite holiday. I now understand why.
The resort is absolutely magnificent. It's location couldn't be more picturesque. It overlooks the Caribbean with a backdrop of the mountains which look like a painting. We spent the rest of the day and evening catching up with our friends and family who joined us from afar to provide us with the extra boost we need to conquer the last two, challenging days. We put our feet up! From the water, trampoline, and sunset to the fresh caught crab dinner, I couldn't think of a more perfect way to relax.
Rest Day—Menelas and Our Families (Day 6)
We slept in...well until 7am at least! Haha! Rest day provided us with the opportunity to visit our families in Menelas and put faces to why we run. It was magical! We met our Haitian crew's wives, children, neighbors, and friends. They embraced us like we were family and showered us with hugs and kisses. They walked us around the community giving us tours of their houses and schools. They couldn't be more proud of everything they have accomplished and couldn't be more optimistic for their future and the future of this wonderful country. Needless to say, lots of happy tears were shed.
Today we were able to to go and visit Menelas. I have heard much about it through Work functions, and on their site, but being there allows you to truly see the good that Work is doing. The changes they have made in peoples lives. The people are just not people to them, they are parts of their family. It was amazing to see how proud people were that they could support there families because of Work.
We have 2 days of running left, around 80 miles, and this visit gives each of the miles even more meaning. No matter how hard it gets in the hot sun, in the markets, or in the mountains. We will be able to picture the families that we are doing this for and push through.
This week has been extremely difficult. The last two days of running have beaten most of us to a pulp mentally and physically. I know for myself, my attitude drastically changed from the first three runs to the last two. I was in pain and just getting frustrated with the constant long running back-to-back-to-back. I remained confident that I could still complete this coast to coast adventure, but I didn’t know if I would regain the positive attitude, the excitement, the joy, that I began with.
Today is an off day, a much needed one at that. We had the privilege to visit Menelas, the community that all of this is for, this morning. On the way there, I had a chance to reflect and to absorb Haiti. Looking out the windows of the bus, I was able to feel the peace that Haiti brings me. I don’t know why the Lord has given me this place to feel at home, but looking at the people, the busy streets, and smelling the food and smoke, hearing all the honks and motos, I smile because this is Haïti. AND I LOVE IT. Thinking back to that dreadful 34 mile day in the agricultural region, I remember thinking, “not again, this sucks.” But during the ride this morning, I was planning next year’s run and how Boston Marathon is just going to have to take a back burner, I mean, I’d have all of March to prepare for that right? ;) I guess Haiti has a way of curing the pain of those 120 miles in my legs.
In Menelas, we got to visit Giordanni’s home, where he works to sustain a family of 7 kids, a wife, and two other family members. He is in the program Work is doing in Menelas to be able to provide for his family without handouts and you can see how proud he is by the smile on his face. Him and his wife were extremely hospitable and we got to meet his youngest baby, one of the cutest babies I have ever seen! His story is truly inspiring of how the support we’ve gained through this run can really change someone’s like if Haiti.
These next two days are going to be extremely difficult. Each and every one of us that makes it all the way are going to be proud of the work we put in the get to the ocean at Jacmel. As we should be. But what’s most important to remember is why we’re doing it, something we were all reminded of today. We do it pou Ayiti! We do it for the families, to raise funds for Work. We do it to show them that we are willing to sacrifice our time, our bodies, our minds, our everything because everyone deserves a chance. We are blessed in the US (or Canada) to be born into an opportunity to succeed in some way and it’s our duty to share in that with all our brothers and sisters across the world.
Even though it was rest day, today became the most meaningful day of our trip. It came such at a good time, especially knowing that we have 2 challenging days ahead of us to finish our coast to coast run. If any of us needed any motivation to get through these next few days, we found it.
We were taken to Menelas to meet the families that we are helping and also to see the communities that they live in. The motivation to run has been found and I am re-energized to get through these last few days. Hearing the stories of how these families were living in tents and struggling to pay for food every single day put everything in perspective for me. This run is for the people of Haiti and I will cross that finish line crawling and puking if I have to. Let’s do the damn thing and finish these for the people of Haiti. Pou Ayiti!
Day 6 of running across Haiti is a time when inspiration meets challenge. We enter the day with (somewhat) fresh legs and full hearts—a day following our time off. We had our chance to rest and see Menelas and hear the current stories of Work’s families. They are freshly ingrained in our hearts and minds as we undertake the challenge—27 miles to Port-au-Prince. While it is minimal compared to some of the distances we have run, there is the combination of the heat and a couple of the markets that will test us, in addition to the thought that we have minimal time following this run to prepare for our final run from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel that begins later that night. It is a unique mental battle.
For myself, I have been debating how I would strategize for today—taking my time would reduce stress on the legs but would minimize time for recovery at the hotel, but pushing the run hard would take a lot physically and time at the hotel would be increased. It is finding that medium to both finish and be ready. The finish line is a sight. We finish along the coast in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. We see the smoke rising from the city dump, the place we walked by the day yesterday. Just beside it we can visualize Menelas, where we just walked it’s streets. They serve as an immediate reminder of why we are running. Faces fresh in our mind, the families we are running for. It is there to greet us for our finish line and puts our mind at rest as we begin to prepare for our run later tonight.
Hello Everyone! I am Maxime. Today was an amazing day. I was really excited to be at Menelas today because I see the great work that Work is doing in this community. So many Haitian people from this area don't have access to food, health care and education. So Work provides food, educates, helps find jobs so they can take care of themselves. I also like that they provide health care to the people of Menelas.