MEDAN BELIZE, Haiti – Medan Belize is one of my favorite places in Haiti, yet you’ll never find it in any travel magazine or tourism guide.
As you leave the busy city of Port-au-Prince and start the drive toward Medan Belize, you begin to see fewer cement walls and more green trees. There are even signs of agriculture in the country.
But once you turn off the main road and embark on the rocky path to the village, the scenery changes drastically. The busy streets and greenery is replaced with cacti and desert. It becomes desolate.
Now are you beginning to wonder why this is my favorite place to visit?
After jostling around in your seat as you traverse the rocky trail, you crest a hill and see beautiful Lake Azuei with a gorgeous set of mountains on the other side. For a moment you think you’re about to enter a paradise retreat—then you notice the plain, thatched roof huts lining the lake as you approach. Poverty in paradise.
As you continue the drive into the village, you begin to see even the cacti struggle to survive here, then you get close enough to see how harsh the living conditions are for the people who call Medan Belize home.
Most of the homes here are made of stick walls plastered with mud, protected overhead by thatched roofs or old tarps. A few are lucky enough to have a tin roof.
Outside mothers and young children take cover under the shade of a tree, wooden fishing boats line the coast, a Lifesaver jerrycan sits just inside the door of a hut, men weave fishing nets, a group of homes sport new tin roofs with raincatchers, and the most exciting of all—children dressed in school uniforms play in the shade under the roof of the school built by Operation Blessing.
The picture painted here is not one of perfection, but rather of struggle, survival and progress—a place that Operation Blessing staff can help develop. Initially we provided for immediate needs with resources like medical clinics, food distributions, clean water solutions, roofing and rain catchment.
As we now work to provide sustainable solutions we knew that education is a key part of empowering the children here to develop and improve their village. So we built a school that doubles as a community center. It offers 60 children the chance to get a good education and also collects water for the village using a rain catchment system.
One of the children I met at the school was a 10-year-old girl named Rosilene. She was at the blackboard reciting letters in French. She enthusiastically went through each word on the blackboard, announcing the letters to the class. When I talked with her later, she told me her favorite subject is French.
This school is very important to her because before it opened, she didn’t have the opportunity to go get an education. And it isn’t just Rosilene—she has three brothers and two sisters who are also attending classes now.
According to her teacher, Ruth, this is the only school in the area. “It was difficult for the families to send them outside to go to school,” Ruth said. “This is the best we have in this community—this school.”
So, yes, I love going to Medan Belize. And while I do love the view of Lake Azuei and watching the men out fishing, the real reason I love this place is the development that Operation Blessing teams are doing to help some of the most impoverished people I have ever met. It is the smile on faces of children like Rosilene who are so excited to be in school. It’s not always fast or easy, but it is progress.
Thanks for being part of the Operation Blessing journey.