Paola, Godmother and Volunteer

Paola, a volunteer with NPH Italy, has returned to Haiti in recent days for her eighth visit. Along with her came her daughter Carlotta, who made her second trip to the island. This is her testimony.
February 27, 2018 - Haiti

Paola, volunteer from the Foundation Francesca Rava and godmother of several children, here playing with the kindergarten kids at the FWAL school.

"It is always emotional to visit Haiti again. I consider visiting a gift. Even after many years and many trips, nothing is taken for granted. Every time sees the same intense emotion that tightens your throat and makes your heart beat.

Haiti is like that;. It stays with you, becomes a part of you. The eyes of the people, the smiles of the children, the colors, the music, the silence, the joy, the pain, the life and the death. Incredible contrasts that present themselves in every moment of the day, fill our eyes and our soul, and do not leave.

This particular trip is special because my daughter Carlotta is with me, and it is wonderful to be able to share this experience and love for this country with her. The most beautiful moment was the meeting with our godchildren. They are 5 wonderful young people, who have been part of our family for 13 years.

Geda* (one of the sponsored children at NPH) is like a sister to Carlotta, they are more or less the same age and have grown to know each other very well. Despite the great distance, they are always able to keep in touch via letters. This is the second time they have met in person; it was touching to see them embrace and witness how naturally they exchanged stories and photos of important moments of their lives.

James* is the youngest of the group, and is shy and speaks little. Even for the difficulty of the language, at our first meeting 11 years ago, he was very affectionate, and wanted to sit on my knees all day, pushing away any other child approaching me!

Jude,* Edelin* and Philip* are three wonderful guys, the first two are studying in university for Management and Medicine, while Philip has one year before finishing his studies and thinking about what to do next. My own parents also help in supporting their university studies, and we are very happy to see Edelin be able to do something so important to him in pursuing medicine. In Haiti this really makes the difference, having the chance to give a future to young people, gives hope for a real change tomorrow.

During our trip we visited the many new projects that the Francesca Rava Foundation (NPH Italy) has supported or funded. In particular, we have opened a clinic in the very poor slum of Wharf Jeremy, inside Citè Soleil. You see the clinic serving a hundred people – women, children, and the elderly, waiting patiently outside for a visit.

The poorest here live in shacks, in extreme conditions. Some have nothing, not even the necessary goods to live. Children are often malnourished. The clinic, which bears the name of Martina (Colombari) as a sign of recognition for her 10 years of serious and constant commitment for the children of NPH in Haiti, is a very important place for many people, a help on that can really make a difference.

The most serious cases can be kept under observation in a small room, to be later moved, if necessary, to the Saint Damien Children's Hospital (for children) or to St. Luc (for adults). Less serious cases can still then be allowed to receive treatment on sight.

Near the clinic are a series of new houses, freshly painted with bright colors that differ so much from the gray tin shacks. These are the last homes built as part project strongly supported by Father Rick and carried out with the involvement and collaboration of the local community. It stands as another small miracle, if we think how difficult it is to operate in these areas, where extreme poverty and violence create an impassable barrier that only a few can think of breaking down. But Father Rick and his team did just that.

In this difficult country, in this land that seems to be cursed and forgotten by everyone, I feel at home. I feel happy and proud to be part of this family.

"It's been about 15 years since I began to sponsor Geda,” continues Paola’s daughter, Carlotta, “and last week I managed to see her again 3 years after our first meeting. Seeing her so grown up was emotional for me, she has grown up beautifully! Geda and I are more or less the same age, which is why I feel more like a "remote sister" than a godmother. I like talking to her like a friend, sharing interests and dreams about the future. In Haiti, the future is always uncertain and sometimes that bothers me, but Geda is a responsible girl, very good at school, and I'm proud of her hard work in her classes.

She graduates in July and asked me to be there to attend the ceremony. I really hope to be there because it would be great to share such an important moment of her life. She told me he would like to continue studying, but in Communication Sciences. I'm sure she will succeed and I will continue to support her and stay close to her to help her build her future.”

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