7th grader in Haiti: Kerchner reflects on experiences
by Hannah Kerchner · Op-Ed · January 25, 2013

Hannah Kerchner, a seventh-grader at West Branch Middle School, is spending January in Haiti with her family while her mother, Dr. Angela Kerchner, works at a medical mission.
To maintain her school work in language arts and social studies, Hannah is keeping a journal. Here are some snippets from her first three entries, provided to the West Branch Times by her language arts teacher, Jim Calkins.

Jan. 1, 2013

The heat hit us like the ball that takes you out in dodge ball. Men working hard to earn money helped us with all 20 of our stuffed bags. They loaded up baggage carts and wheeled them outside. We found an open spot in a large lot. It was like a parking lot with no cars. Fences bordered the lot, behind which the Haitian men stood, waiting to earn money by giving people rides from the airport. My mom told the guy that moved our luggage that he and his helpers didn’t have to wait with us. “We’re fine, our ride should be coming shortly.”

“No, I will stay here,” the man said in his best English.

Mom had already been here three previous times, while Dad had only been here once before. This is only the first time that my brother, sister and I have been in Haiti. My nerves were frazzled. Mom comes to Haiti to help because she is a doctor. Every now and then there is a huge clinic where people from far up in the mountains in Haiti come to see a doctor from the United States. When she isn’t doctoring the people she teaches women how to help the sick when there is not a doctor here.

Only minutes after Dad came back to our waiting spot, a Haitian man came up behind mom and asked, “Dr. Angie?”

Mom stood up and shook his hand, “Oui, I am Dr. Angie, koman ou ye? These are my kids Hannah, Gracie and Sam, and this is my husband, Steve.” She pointed at each of us as she said our name.

“Are these all your bags?” the man was surprised on how much we brought.

“Oui, we brought most of America,” Mom replied as she smiled.

Jan. 2, 2013

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo!

The roosters sang through the night and into the morning. With a pounding headache, I dragged myself out of bed. I slipped on a pair of clean clothes and got ready for the day. Mom braided my hair while Gracie searched for some water. I put on my sneakers and ran outside, almost forgetting to apply my sunscreen. I felt as if I were being cooked in the heat. Sweat trickled down my neck at only 8 a.m.!

“Behind the temple there is lots of shade and a few chairs,” Mom replied.

I sighed and took Gracie and Sam with me. Mom was right, it felt nice in the shade. There was a nice breeze coming in from over the Caribbean Sea, which we can see from our hillside Haiti “home.”

Jan. 3, 2013

“Maa, maa, maa,” a chorus of goats woke me up at 5:30 a.m. I groaned with dread when I looked at my phone. I closed my eyes but I couldn’t fall back asleep. Finally at around 6 a.m. people started getting up. We hiked up the hill to the white flag where Mom said we would build ourselves a house. On the hill you could see the ocean really well, and it was beautiful.

“Hello, Dr. Steve!” a Haitian girl came up by us on the hill. I chuckled to myself. Dad isn’t a doctor!

“Hello,” Dad replied.

“I was sent up here,” she said in her best English, which was pretty good. She and Dad had a short conversation, before we headed down the hill. It was a nice day, with the breeze blowing. When we headed back to our room to do homework, Mahalia stopped us. Mahalia, took us from Dad and into the temple. She seated us all in a desk next to two Haitian girls.

“I have a project for you. It will be fun!” Mahalia said this first in Creole, and then in English. “We are going to learn a song, in Creole. A short and easy one to start with. These girls will teach it to you.”

I nodded; this was going to be hard. I didn’t really want to do this.

“Number five, Numero senk,” Mahalia told us.

The girls started to sing and motioned us to join. I liked the sound of it, but had some complications in saying the words. Mahalia left after the first try and we were on our own with the girls. We went straight through the song about 10 times before we rested. After about an hour we sounded sort of better.

“Bonjuor! I come to help you. Kijan u rele?” a man walked in and asked us all of our names. We gave them to him and he gave us his. We sang what we had learned and he was satisfied.

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