I absolutely loved the time I spent at GLA volunteering…That’s why I keep coming back!
I first spent two weeks at GLA in June of 2004 when my family came to GLA to pick up my brother and sister. My mom and dad spent time bonding with my brother and sister, and my other sisters and I were able to work as volunteers. I loved the feeling of making a difference in the lives of the children I worked with. I loved it so much that I made plans to return two summers later, in June of 2006 for four weeks.
I loved having the longer time to really connect with my assigned children. I had several babies who really responded to the love I was able to shower them with, and I loved watching how much they changed. I loved seeing how much the toddler kids enjoyed the hugs and smiles I would give them. I wouldn’t have changed the time I spent at GLA for anything.
There are some challenges that come along with being in a foreign country. There were times when I wanted to ask some of the children or nannies something, but they couldn’t understand me. Kids have tried to ask me questions, but I can’t understand them. I’ve gotten sick with some type of bug every time I’ve been in Haiti. Sometimes the food we eat for lunch doesn’t look or smell really good. None of these, though, outweigh the good times that I’ve experienced. More and more kids are learning English, and are eager to try and teach me Creole. They take great care of us, and I don’t stay sick for long. We always have peanut butter sandwiches to fall back on. GLA is a great place and I have always felt absolutely safe while working there. In fact, I’m going to be going back for another 6 weeks during the summer of 2007.
I would strongly recommend that anyone who is considering volunteering at GLA to go for it! It has absolutely changed my life, and I am now considering a career in missions. They are a great mission that is doing some amazing things in the lives of children in Haiti, and I am proud to be able to help them.
The short months that I was able to spend at GLA were some of the best months of my life. I have found that I feel closest to God when I'm doing three things: hanging around other believers, serving Him, and stepping out of my comfort zone. God's Littlest Angels is the perfect place to do all three! I encourage anyone that feels led by God to volunteer at GLA to go. Don't let the fear of safety stop you from going either. John, Dixie, Molly, LaDawn, Joyce, and Laurie will take care of you. They are all great people with great hearts. Never once did I feel unsafe while I was there...well...except when Laurie was driving...and I suppose when Molly was driving...and maybe when LaDawn was driving... Haha. I'm just kidding. Just realize that if God says go you have no choice! And if you're reading this I'm guessing you are getting that nudge! So go and have the time of your life. Have a great day.
My sister adopted a little girl from GLA. As soon as my sister received the first picture (December 2004), the whole family fell in love with her! Since that time, my wish was to come to Haiti to know the country where she was born, and GLA was even a better place because her father choose that orphanage for being the best place for her.
So I waited until my niece arrived in France to begin to prepare my trip. I decided it would be November 2006. As soon as I got the answer from GLA I began to prepare my trip: vaccinations, mosquito cream (which I forgot finally and the mosquitoes loved me over there ;-)), plane ticket etc. Finally it's been easier to prepare than what I thought at the beginning.
I took the plane and arrived in Port au Prince in the middle of the afternoon. Molly was waiting for me at the airport - 45 minutes later we arrived at the main house!!! Wow! This place is like an ant-hill... everyone is everywhere!!!! I knew that I was coming there for the babies, and it became obvious right away!
I began to work the following day, at 8:00 am. LaDawn assigned me 8 babies ("my" babies). I was taking care of them one hour for each kid. I had instructions for each kid which helped a lot, some need to be talked to, some need to walk, and some need more hugs than others. Some need to fall asleep in you arms, some need to cry. Actually, they need one to one attention and to feel that they can be loved.
After a few days you know them better and you know when it is the best time to have one or the other baby. They recognize you very fast! They know you are there for them only... this is really touching!
I spent also very good moments at the toddler house, having a carnival, a piñata with the kids. Every morning also when you go out, lots of kids hug you, say hello, know your name!!!! They are fast and smart! Also, spending time with the other volunteers, sharing their experiences, and sharing their lives for 3 weeks was really a great thing.
I came back 5 months ago and GLA is in my heart every single day ! This was such an experience! And such a blessing!
If you are considering working as a volunteer at God's Littlest Angels (GLA), I’d say: "Go for it! I am sure you won’t regret it."
I am one of the lucky ones to have been able to visit GLA twice to work there, and a third time will certainly follow.
My first two-week visit to GLA was in October 2006; a wonderful experience!! There were just so many impressions: the country, the Haitian population, the warmth of the people in GLA, and, of course: the children!
Volunteers are appointed eight children under two whom they give one-to-one attention for one hour every day. It is so wonderful to see what this hour means to these children. It may not seem much, but you can simply see them enjoy it and smarten up. A great thing to see!
The children soon discover that, during this hour, you are there just for them and they will usually be waiting for you when you come to collect them and go to the playing balcony.
Some children get help sitting or walking, while others are encouraged in coordination and locomotion or simply require attention and many hugs and kisses. Spending time with these children all day long really made me feel that I was doing something meaningful and worthwhile.
After a day’s work with the smallest children, after dinner volunteers go up to the Toddler house; this also functions as the accommodation for volunteers. It is really wonderful to get a chance and spend time with some of the older children who are staying here: playing on the swings, singing, playing soccer; anything is possible. What matters to them is your presence.
My second two-week visit to GLA was about four months later in mid-February 2007. It felt like coming home, everything was so very familiar and it was great to see that the children recognised me!
During my visit in October 2006, there was an extremely sick little boy in my group and I really feared for his life. When I saw him again in February 2007, he had turned in to a cheerful, podgy, babbling and always smiling baby!!! A huge difference compared to four months before. And this time, I was able to play, cuddle and prattle with him for one entire hour every day.
The children who were barely able to sit by themselves in October were now cheerfully walking around.
Next to working with the children, there is sufficient time left to become acquainted and make friends with other volunteers. During the weekends, excursions are held, but these are limited due to the unstable situation in Haiti.
However, there is no need to be concerned about your personal safety; GLA does its utmost to prevent any risk for their volunteers and the orphanage is located in a safe area where you can go out.
One perhaps minor detail which I think is worth mentioning is the fact that the food served in GLA is delicious!!!
The only disadvantage I was confronted with was my rather limited knowledge of the French and Creole languages. There was no problem communicating with volunteers who speak English, but the caretakers in the orphanage speak either Creole or French. We were able to understand each other using hands and feet but I missed being able to have a real conversation with them.
So, a tip for learning French Creole: Creole Made Easy by Wally R. Turnbull (ISBN 0-9679937-1-7).
It is great for the children to have volunteers spending time with them and giving them the attention they crave for, but it is just as valuable and fantastic for volunteers! Be prepared for a real change in life; this experience will turn your world upside down. It is difficult to explain, you simply have to experience it. I would like to express my warm-heartedness to the Bickel family and GLA employees, they are doing a wonderful job in Haiti!!!