Every day in Haiti is filled with moments of “OMG I can’t believe I just saw that.” They can be big things; like our first visit to the Pignon Hospital. This is considered one of the best hospitals in Haiti and Pignon is well known for it. Let’s just say that the conditions there were so horrific that Carl and I vowed to each other, that if something should happen to us (tfu-tfu-tfu), regardless of the consequences, we will take the chance and fly each other out of Haiti to be treated elsewhere; the first time I saw a Pitting Edema on a malnourished child – an indentation left on their tiny swollen bodies; holding little children with AIDS; sitting in a tiny hut where 20 people sleep, or watching people bathe in the contaminated river.
They can be small things; like the other day one of the girls, Milove, had a splinter in her foot. I was unable to get it out, so I told her to go up to our room, where I planned to soak it. She came up to our room with another girl, Adlene, and as I entered the room to get a bucket and tweezers, I asked the girls to take a seat on the sofa outside. When I came back out, the two were sitting on the floor beside the sofa. They are not used to such “luxuries” and felt like they were not allowed to sit on this sofa (which sits outside our room and which dogs sometimes sleep on). Anyways, I made them sit on the sofa and gave them lollipops as we were boiling some water. Oh, the joy and excitement on their faces as they both felt the temperature of the water (everyone takes cold showers here), put their feet in it, washed their hands and faces in it and dipped their lollipops in… that was my “OMG I can’t believe I just saw that” moment. The water was filthy from their feet (the kids mostly walk around barefoot) and they were now dipping their lollipops in it! Or the night I took Kentya to bed and found out she shared her bed with two other older girls. They were sleeping and she had to squeeze in-between them. It was like watching puppies when they curl up together, only this wasn’t a cute sight!
There are about 8 older boys in the orphanage and since they don’t have anything to do, no TV, no computer, nowhere to really run around, they search for building projects. OMG, the many times I’ve seen them barefoot with rusty nails around or climbing trees with machetes. Every time I see them cutting each other’s hair, I just have to walk away, as cutting hair is a razor attached to a comb and I thank God they do not chop each other’s ears off! And I won’t even begin to tell you about the things the girls use as toys…
I guess photos would make this post more real, but many of these moments are not moments where you can stop and snap, they are moments that baffle and scare you.
The past few weeks I have however found myself doing things that would have made the old me have an “OMG I can’t believe I just saw that” moment, I help the girls get seeds out of carob like beans with rusty nails and rocks for hammers, I play football barefoot on a rocky “field” with two big tree stumps in the middle and I let the girls comb my hair with weird pieces of metal they find on the ground.
At the end of the movie Madagascar, when the animals are on the boat thinking they are headed back to New York, the penguins, lounging on the beach, ask each other, “Shouldn’t we tell them that the boat is out of gas”, and another replies, “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.” I know I’m in Haiti, but does that make it ok to just smile and wave?!
Sending you much love from Haiti,
Somara and Feician scrubbing the laundry using a knife for a brush
The boys using random tools to build
Phillip cutting Emil’s hair with a “Razor-comb”
Morning bath at the Guap river