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Haiti trip life-altering for Halifax Baptist minister

It was a life-changing “wake-up call” of a trip for one Halifax County Baptist minister, an eye-opener that made the Rev. Larry Davis realize just how much Americans take for granted.

The former president of the South Boston Rotary Club returned last week with memories etched in his mind he will not soon forget.

Davis, along with members of the Rotary Clubs of District 7600, the Belhaven Rotary Club of

District 7620, the Valdese Rotary Club of District 7670 and two North Carolina Rotary Clubs, ventured to Haiti to check on Rotary Club projects there.

“We went down to make sure our money was being spent the way we wanted it to,” Davis said.

District 7600, The Belhaven Rotary Club of District 7620, the Valdese Rotary Club of District 7670 and two North Carolina clubs partnered together and received a district grant providing $24,000 to the Water Filter Project in Haiti.

Together the Rotary Clubs raised $12,000 and were able to get a matching grant of $12,000 from the Haiti Donor Advised Fund established by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. The clubs partnered with Haiti Outreach Ministries to implement the grant.

Davis, along with other Rotary Club members, were able to help build water filters and deliver them to homes of people in Haiti who desperately need clean water.

Also delivered were a suitcase full of school supplies to children at a school located in the community of Blanchard that hosts 520 students in grades 1-6.

“We were able to see the filters being made, and we worked a couple days constructing them ourselves, then we had the opportunity to go out into the rural area and actually install some in the homes,” Davis said.

“We just take water for granted. We don’t think about the lack of water...Taking a hot shower, boiling an egg, anything we just do out of habit.”

Davis describes his experience in Haiti as “a wake up call.”

“It was a wake up call to realize how blessed we are and the things we take for granted like electricity and clean water,” Davis said.

This was not Davis’ first trip to Haiti having traveled there once before the earthquakes and hurricanes destroyed the country.

“The hurricanes and the earthquake just destroyed their whole way of life,” Davis said. “ They’re having a hard time overcoming that and getting back to where they were.”

According to Davis, Haiti’s quality of life is very poor and unsanitary, as they lack electricity, clean water and adequate shelter.

Some people live in tents on the street, he said.

But for Davis, his most memorable experience involved delivering a water filter to someone who needed it and was truly appreciative.

“At least we were there providing her a means of clean water in her home. We gave her something she didn’t have any way of getting. It felt like we were making a step in the right direction,” Davis said.

He described their way of life in Haiti as “very primitive.”

Davis said Haiti has done nothing to rebuild the capital city since the earthquake struck in January 2010, and rubble still remains on the streets despite all the funds raised to help Haiti get back on its feet.

He said the money has been raised and appropriated, but there is no way to make sure where the money is going because the government is so corrupt.

Davis said it is a matter of who is going to rebuild it and take the responsibility to make sure things get done.

A lack of leadership, lack of government and lack of someone accepting responsibility are the problems, according to Davis, and “it’s a scary thing.

“There’s a need out there, and those who care can make a difference,” Davis said. “It was a positive experience, but yet I felt sorry for the condition they were having to live in, and I hoped by seeing it, I can share it with others and get others to help make a difference,” he added.

Davis brought home numerous photographs of the rubble and ruins in Haiti as a reminder.

One particularly poignant photograph shows a woman washing her clothes outside in a huge pot of water and women at the school preparing a meal in a pot over a fire without electricity.

Davis said the country has an 85 percent unemployment rate.

“I saw a lot of sadness, a lot of poverty and a lot of hopelessness,” the minister added.

For Davis, it was a touching experience to visit the children at the school. He and the other Rotary Club members presented the suitcase full of supplies to the headmistress to be distributed among those who needed it most.

She and the children were very appreciative of the supplies.

“Everybody appreciates kindness,” Davis said.

“She kept saying thank you over and over again,” he added.

“Kid are kids, I don’t care where they are, they love to be loved. They love attention, and if we put a smile on their face, it was certainly well worth our trip,” Davis said. “Nationality and race doesn’t have anything to do with it. We all have the same basic need. We like to be loved, and we like for people to care about us.”

Davis said he learned during his trip that for a dollar a day, he could send a child to school through Haiti Outreach Ministries.

He has decided to sponsor a child.

Davis said it was truly a blessing to have this experience describing it as “very rewarding.”

“I felt like I was blessed to be able to do what I could at that time. I hope I can spread the word to other people to help do something,” Davis said.

Although much more needs to be done in Haiti, Davis said opportunities abound for people to contribute their time and effort in Halifax County.

Davis tries to do his share serving as treasurer of the Halifax Hospital Auxiliary, as a volunteer at Halifax Regional Hospital and as a volunteer for the Good Samaritan organization.

He also is an ordained minister and gives weekly devotions at Boston Commons and Somerset.

“The big thing is for people to recognize the needs and be willing to step up and help any way they can. We all can make a difference in some type of way,” Davis said.