May 16, 2017Pitt Student-Athletes Share Experiences from Haiti Trip
PITTSBURGH – Earlier this month, sixteen student-athletes from six sports at the University of Pittsburgh traveled to Haiti for a mission trip organized by the school’s Coalition of Christian Outreach from April 30 to May 6.
Led by campus minister Mark Steffey and his colleague, Kelly Cooke, the group journeyed to Cap Haitien, a city of about 200,000 on the north coast of the country. More than 100 student-athletes from Pitt have taken part in the journey with CCO over the past six consecutive years.
Three student-athletes made return trips this year, including football’s Brian Popp (third) and Connor Dintino (second) as well as gymnast Taylor Laymon (third).
Two student-athletes who made the trip for the first time spoke about how the journey had touched their lives.
“I gained a divine appreciation for the simplicity of life,” Cassidy Walsh, a rising junior on the women’s basketball team, said. “The Haitian community completely inspired me, especially from daily activities with the little kids by playing all different kinds of sports, helping them with homework, and having deep conversations about our faith. Their selflessness, generosity, and love for each other is remarkable and it inspired me to be a better version of myself and who God wants me to be.”
Volleyball’s Angela Seman was also moved by the trip.
“This was an experience that you can't put into words,” Seman said. “The relationships we built as a group in such a short amount of time are ones that will last a lifetime. It was truly eye-opening and we all grew in our faith.”
The group departed on the Sunday, April 30: the date of Pitt’s spring commencement. Once arriving in Haiti, they worked at several different locations, including the EBAC orphanage and school, the New Vision Children’s Home, IDADEE orphanage and New Hope Hospital.
At the orphanages, the student-athletes assisted with tasks such as painting, cleaning and repairing facilities, teaching English, helping with coursework from first through 10th grade, playing soccer and basketball with local youth ages six through 26.
At the New Hope Hospital, the group helped to organize the small stock of medicine in its pharmacy. The facility opened in October 2016 and serves an area with a population of more than 200,000 with a staff of seven doctors and around 20 nurses. The student-athletes spent time listening and learning about the staff’s hopes for the future.
Additionally, the group made an effort to invest in the Haitian economy by touring the Citadelle, a large castle on the top of the mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque, about 17 miles south of the city. They also went to the beach and stayed at the Joshua House, which employs a half-dozen Haitians.
“This experience opened my mind and heart in ways I didn't know was possible,” Walsh added. “Mark and Kelly did an unbelievable job by helping me gain the most out of this trip, especially during our Bible study every night after dinner. It helped my overall perspective on life and how everyday should be lived through the works of God. It's very easy to selfishly get caught up in our own lives and forget what's important, however, this experience in Haiti changed my life in the most positive and uplifting way. I'm very thankful for the opportunity I was given and experiencing it with such amazing people.”
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