LaPorta joined an STO team for a four-day trip to Gressier, Haiti, which is located roughly 10 miles from the earthquake's epicenter. It is also the home to Christianville, a mission that has a school, a medical facility, several feeding programs and is home to Haiti's only malaria lab.
During his trip, LaPorta toured schools, support facilities and orphanages that have benefited from the funds raised in Northeast Ohio. STO will air a special in January -- the second anniversary of the earthquake -- to showcase the ongoing efforts.
What follows are three journal entries written by LaPorta about his journey:
This was more of a relax day here in Haiti. We got up at about 7 a.m., because you can't sleep much longer when the sun comes out. So we went out to one orphanage, where the kids got to be in their new house for the first time.
When I say "house," it has a concrete floor with plywood walls and about 20 plywood bunks that each kid sleeps on with no pillows or mattresses. If they are lucky, they may have a sheet on there. It has a tin roof, too. Crazy, and we complain about our 2,500-plus square foot houses, how we would update them and do this and that.
Before they got this house they were sleeping in tents on the dirt, and happy they had that, because not all could sleep under the tent. Some had to sleep under a tree. Wow. It's so eye opening to us over here. They have a well right now, but it is not deep enough and some of the kids had cholera. They plan on digging a new well for them one of these days.
We were able to hang with these kids and pass out some more candy to them. They love their candy. You have never seen such grateful kids before -- for one piece of candy. We got to hug them and they were touching our hair because it is so different than their own hair.
It was amazing to see what little can be done to impact their lives in such a huge way. After that, we came back and ate dinner and then went to bed. It seems like the days last forever here because we are up so early.
We got up at 5:30 a.m. to head to a place that takes about five hours to reach, with about three hours of driving up and down these mountains. After we got to a certain point, we parked the trucks to get out with all the goods that we brought over from Christianville. The natives came out to the road to meet us and they took the goods on about a 45-minute walk to a boat.
Then we all crossed a river on a boat that was cut out of a tree. Once we got to the other side, they loaded up donkeys with all the goods and we walked for about an hour to their small remote village. I don't even know how this organization found these people way out there. On our walk back, we passed by small families who literally live in a shack or nothing at all. Their kids don't have clothes half the time. It was some of the saddest sights I had ever seen. We finally got up to the village with all the goods.
On the way up we had a bag of candy that we were passing out to all the natives. The plan was to pass out more candy once we got up to the village church. Well, the bag probably only had about 126 pieces in it and I know that I had given out at least 50 on the way to the village. I was told that there were about 100 kids and I said we may not have enough candy for all of them. Lo and behold, we started passing out the candy and we had enough for all the kids and the adults, which was amazing. We even had a little extra left over for the village.
They have a soccer team up there and we gave them a new ball. We ended up playing with these guys. They were playing shirts and skins and I got stuck being skins. Haha. Not a great sight being that I am so white. They were all laughing at me because of my whiteness. After we played, we made our trek back. It was such an amazing day to see all of that. The landscape in Haiti for the most part is so beautiful. It is a shame that there really is no tourism here. They have shacks that are on the Caribbean. Man, I can't explain how pretty it is here.
I was so fortunate to be able to go over to Haiti to see the world they live in. It is so sad to see that kind of poverty and hunger in someone's life. Nothing that I have ever seen can compare to Haiti. In one sense, it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but yet some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen. Going to Haiti was such an eye-opening experience.
The People in Christianville, where we stayed, are doing some amazing things down there in trying to create food programs where the Haitians can raise animals and crops to sell and feed themselves. It would be my wish that more people would be involved in bringing Haiti the relief they need. Overall, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I realized how much I truly have and I know that I own much more than I need. I want to thank Jim and Kim Liberatore and Christianville for letting me be a part of something so special.