Exploring their Big World

May 18, 2017

Steph Duff

The children from Lighthouse Children’s Home climbed aboard the bus and chose seats carefully as they settled in for an eight-hour drive to The Citadelle Laferriere.

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The Citadelle Laferriere sits atop Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain in Northern Haiti. It was built between 1805 and 1820, immediately following the The Haitian Revolution that gained the country independence from France. The military compound was built as part of a fortification system designed to resist future attempts by the French to recapture the nation of Haiti. Covering 10,000 square meters, it is surrounded by a battery of 365 cannons.

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The Citadelle, while visually stunning from the outside, is even more impressive on the inside. It provides living quarters, cisterns, and storehouses designed to store enough food and water to sustain 5,000 soldiers for up to one year. The strength and design of the Citadelle was never tested, but is now revered as a symbol of Haiti and is featured on currency stamps, tourist posters, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

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Winding and pot-holed roads brought the bus to a resting space after a long bought of travel on a Friday night. The boys and girls separated and settled in for a night of Bible study, movies, and swimming in the hotel’s swimming pool.

Early Saturday morning they all got ready and headed to the base of the mountain where the Citadelle Laferriere sits.

“We rented a couple horses and the children took turns riding the horses up to the structure,” shared Back2Back staff, Dan Ravenhorst. “It took about 45 minutes to walk to the top.”

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Once at the top, the children and staff were matched with a tour guide who walked them through the building, sharing its backstory. The children held decades old cannonballs in their hands and toured the site, learning about their native country and seeing a new part of the big world around them.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dachshund, Addy. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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