PUTNEY -- Brattleboro Union High School student Garrett Winchester says he learns something new each time he visits Haiti and volunteers his time at an orphanage there.
"It would be really hard to go and not learn something," said the 15-year-old Putney resident. "You get shell shocked. It's so weird because you're only a few hours from the U.S., but you're in this other world."
Winchester returned from his 10-day trip on Aug. 14. Although two of those days were used primarily for traveling, he was able to accomplish many things.
This was Winchester's second time going to assist with construction work at Redeemer's Child, an orphanage in Haiti. On the latest trip, efforts were made to build a school on the same property. It will some day be utilized by local village children who are sponsored by groups that include the ministry Love in Motion, based out of Jaffrey, N.H., of which Winchester is a member.
"Those who have the most have a responsibility to give," he said. "This is a good outlet to help other people who are less fortunate."
On the first day, Winchester's group, comprised of 10 adults, was presented with details and information about the trip. The coordinators took the group to where they'd be staying, then to the orphanage to play with the kids.
After a good night of sleep, the volunteers went out to the work site. His group began with making cementing by hand with dirt and rocks.
"We made bucket lines and tossed buckets to each other," he said. "Then we made lunch -- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- to give to the workers that help us there."
Local Haitian workers were hired to assist with the construction efforts. Along with the volunteers, they worked on the school. Winchester said they were able to make three floors and three rooms.
"They weren't expecting us to do that much in a week," he added.
One of the highlights of Winchester's trip was seeing a huge waterfall. By paying a child $5 to be their guide, the volunteers were led to the scenic location.
"It was really cool," Winchester said. "(The guides) were really nice."
On another day, the group took all the children of the orphanage to the beach. They were responsible for a total of 42 children.
"We all had to sit in this trunk thing," said Winchester. "There are kids in your lap, kids on the floor. There were kids everywhere."
Many of the orphans were not able to swim, so they would latch on to the volunteers, he said.
The jellyfish, which didn't sting, were popping up and the kids picked them out of the water
"We tried to store them on the sand because if you leave them out long enough, they disintegrate into sand," said Winchester.
He told the Reformer that saying goodbye to the children on that last day was really sad.
Before leaving, volunteers put together 400 bags full of rice, spaghetti, water jugs and pamphlets about evangelism.
The police assisted with organizing a line made up of women who received tickets that would allow them to receive the bags.
"It was really nice because you can just see when you hand it out, how grateful they are," said Winchester. "The second time I went, I got to really appreciate what I have and I learned that no mater what, you can make a difference. Most kids my age don't think they can do anything really important but you can give your time. And you can give your strength through work. And you can make a difference no matter how old you are."
To learn more about his ministry's Haiti project, visit Mondanockbible.org/Haiti.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.