HI Impact Trip Attendee Ava Keller Talks About Her Experiences in Cité Soleil

1. How did you decide that you wanted to go on an impact trip to Haiti with The Sanneh Foundation? Did you have any influences?

I first heard about it at school because some close friends of mine were talking about going. I decided to go because I wanted to take a risk and step outside my comfort zone. I also wanted to explore a third world country.

2. What were your first impressions when you arrived in Cité Soleil? (scenery, landscape, people, living conditions, etc.)

When I first got to Cité Soleil I was shocked quite honestly. In America, people are used to seeing pictures of people in extreme poverty, but they never actually experience that environment. Those pictures came to life for me when I arrived in Cité Soleil. I saw kids wearing minimal clothing, piles of trash along the streets and sewage running along side the streets as well. There are stray dogs running around and some pigs eating the trash on the street.

3. Take me through what a daily routine looked like for you while you were on the trip. What did that look like?

We start the day by eating breakfast. Then we would usually explore Haiti in some way in the morning whether that is going to a waterfall, going to the beach, getting a tour of certain businesses etc. In the afternoon we would go to Cité Soleil to play soccer with the kids or teach them English. After leaving Cité Soleil we normally would go back to the guest house.

4. What was your favorite excursion or activity that you participated in?

My favorite place to be is the soccer field in Cité Soleil. I love playing with the kids and sometimes coaching them. Although we don't speak the same language, we are able to communicate through the beautiful game of soccer.

5. Talk about your interactions with the youth in Haiti. What were those like?

The kids are some of the happiest people I have ever met. They're are so full of life. That was the main thing that surprised me about Cité Soleil. Even though the people there are living in such intense conditions, they still seem to have such a positive outlook on life. All the kids I met were very welcoming and very interested in spending time with me. This was how I got very close to certain kids.

6. What is something that you learned and are definitely going to take back to the U.S. with you?

After going on two trips and visiting Cité Soleil many times I am very aware of the poverty that the people there are experiencing. One of the main things I took away from these trips was the attitude of the kids. The kids in Cité Soleil hardly have anything. I want to minimize the wastefulness in my household. We have too much. You know when parents say "finish your food they're hungry kids in other parts of the world".  Well, I have now seen those kids and will always make sure to finish my food.

7. What was the most difficult part of this trip for you? 

The most difficult part of the trip for me is saying goodbye to the kids. It was even more difficult the second time because I deepened my relationship with kids I met on my first trip. They have a very special place in my heart and will continue to be what motivates me again and again to go back to Haiti.

Impact Trip Haitian Initiative Sponsor Haiti