This morning, Pastor Francois left with 3 little girls and Som (the resident mechanic of the kids–he often accompanies Pastor on longer trips to help fix the car if something happens) to go to Cap Haitien. His wife is flying to Cap tomorrow from Florida, so Pastor is combining his trip to pick her up with a trip to the doctor for the 3 girls. Many of the children here have “boutons”, boil-type sores on their bodies, and we wanted to get the girls checked out, tested, and back home with medicine for themselves and several others. Thanks to the support of Loving Haiti donors, we were able to give Pastor some money to help with this medical visit.
After he left with the kids, we headed out to the market with the 5 kids below, and with Emil again. Going to market with the intent of letting the kids buy something is actually a bit trying (and tiring, in this heat!) as they ask for all sorts of things that we might think aren’t age appropriate (like cologne for the 2 little boys) or they continually want to add more to their little stash. Emil is such a great help, and we often give in after my pidgin Kreyol-ing with him. Today the girls got hair clips and bands and bracelets, and the boys got playing cards along with lotion and the cologne, which they are to share. Actually, the things that are bought for the little ones are usually put into the common pot, and there doesn’t seem to be a way around that. The olders are able to keep their things separate, although they do all share with each other. We ended up buying drinks on the way home at a new place; a man came out and talked to us as we entered town today, asking us to support his shop as he is trying to make a living, get married one day, etc. His prices were reasonable and we are happy to try to spread what little we spend around the town.
Unfortunately I didn’t get much info on the kids before Pastor left for Cap (I was having to gather info for 2 days worth of kids, and we didn’t have enough time!). Here’s what I have and who they are, left to right:
Bilon, age 7, also called Peanut. He cried frequently when we were here last year, but he is doing so much better this year!
Ketia, age 9–Was unable to get info on her. We did “clinic” on her yesterday, as she has some oozing sores…she picked them today to make them bleed, which is a common thing–the children love the individual attention they get when we treat wounds. Actually, it’s when Mark treats wounds; I’m totally unable to do anything but round up the kiddos who need the help:-(
Angeline, age 13–I don’t have her story either. But she thinks she’s at least 18! I’m not sure that she liked going to the market with the littler children, but she had plenty that she wanted to buy.
Ednalson, age 9–He wouldn’t come near me at the start of this trip, looked angrily at me the first few days and went the other way when I was around. He didn’t do this last year, so I was a little worried about him. The trip to the market made him very happy and he’s perked up quite a bit. Maybe the coming and going of us blans (literally, whites, but refers to all non-Haitians) is harder on some than others.
Miriline, age 10 Madame Monique who cooks for the kids got her somehow and brought her here. She didn’t talk before she came, but she does now!
After breakfast on Monday, there were 3 women waiting to see Pastor. Daily he has people coming into the compound to seek his help–for money, for food, for all sorts of things. Pastor called me over as he spoke with the first woman. He told me that she was asking him to take 2 of her children, 8 and 10 years old, because she couldn’t care for them. Her husband is “handicap, he cannot move” so the burden to survive falls on her. Pastor said to me, “you are mommy, what do you think? if you say yes, then yes; if you say no, then no.” What did I do but cry–cry at the reality that any mom would have to make a decision to send her children away to ensure their survival. Of course we said yes, and she returned with them today.
Heading up the the orphanage with Pastor
And last night, Jennifer and Bill Campbell said good-bye to Mikey. Mikey was in their home for the last 8 years. There were many times that the Campbells thought they might lose him, but with their loving ministrations he always rallied. This time, however, his frail body couldn’t fight off the chikungunya virus and he passed away very quickly, within 24 hours.
The nearest morgue is in Hinche, a few hours away, so Pastor found someone to bathe his body and stay with it during the night. Finding a casket proved to be very difficult. Jennifer and Bill wanted the funeral at 11, but it took until then to find and deliver a casket, so the funeral was at 12:30. In the meantime, Mark and I went over this morning to help with the feeding clinic. Today it was formula for the babies, and Jen insisted with Pastor that it must not be canceled. One woman traveled 20 miles, and Jennifer thinks she probably walked. The critical work at Haiti Home of Hope is a privilege to witness and share in. And the Campbells are truly amazing. I don’t have the words to describe how incredible they are as they minister in Haiti for what is now their 12th year.
Back to the funeral, it was traditional by U.S. standards; once over, we all walked to the cemetery. The cemetery looks like the ones seen in places like New Orleans, with above-ground stone crypts. However, in the middle there is an area of ground that is dug up over and over again for each burial. Bones could be seen sticking out of the dirt around the hole for the casket, and Jennifer pointed out voodoo doll lying nearby. As Pastor Francois is fond of telling me, “You are in Haiti.” And what an experience it is.
The sense most overwhelmed in Haiti, at least for me, is that of hearing. Singing, loud talking, church bells ringing, leaves rustling, motorcycles racing, horns honking, and always, all day, the animals–roosters crowing, birds chirping, peacocks “mewing”, goats bleating, dogs barking (esp. the 5 or 6 here at the compound–very good guard dogs!), and of course, the donkeys braying.
A key societal/cultural difference that is overwhelmingly obvious is the disposal of trash. Here in Haiti there is no garbage collection, no dump, except for wherever one is standing. Since Mark’s first trip here, he’s tried to instill a pride in keeping clean grounds at the compound. All the kids know he doesn’t tolerate litter! I wonder if we’re imposing our own value to a people for whom it makes no sense? I prefer to think we’re setting an example of good stewardship over what’s been given to us…
Which brings me to what we blans consider garbage. The kids here (out of necessity, of course) are very resourceful in using whatever is discarded, making it into a toy or game. Bottle caps, plastic, cardboard–anything is capable of being transformed, with a little imagination! We threw away an empty box of Triscuits yesterday before entering the dining hall (after sharing with the dogs and one of the boys who was hanging out with us). When we came out, the plastic liner was lying on the ground, completely devoid of a single crumb. That reminded me of something Abby told me while here last year, that the kids will go through our trash before burning it, knowing that something we discard may be a great find for them. Certainly makes me think twice about my consumerism and over-abundance…
Enough musings, on to the kids we took to market today:
Roseandrel, age 13–Haven’t been able to get her story yet.
Ninise, age 10–sister of Piggy and Saul, they have been here almost a year. Their dad died and their mom Joslyn got sick in Cap, Pastor helped take care of her. Joslyn actually lived at the orphanage some years back, which Pastor had forgotten until she reminded him. With no husband, she was unable to care for the 3 children.
Samson, age 8–little brother of Romane and Djoubli, who I wrote about earlier–mom died, dad had to go find work, someone brought the kids to Pastor’s children in Cap.
Cristine, age 10–oldest sister of Belina and Naika, fairly new here. Father died, mother knows Madame Nicole who lives with the children and she asked her to bring them here. Sweet kids and they seem fairly well-adjusted to being here (almost a year now).
Jempslee age 15–His dad was killed under terrible circumstances and his mom couldn’t take care of him and his two sisters, but the girls didn’t want to stay here, so only Jempslee is part of the orphanage. Pastor lets his sisters come to school without paying anything. Jempslee had decided he didn’t want to go with us to the market, probably because he didn’t want to be the older one with the littles 🙂 However, as we left the gates of the compound, he ambled on over. With Emil and Romane, whom we took again so he could buy sandals, I guess Jempslee thought it would be okay.
The girls got hair accessories, jewelry, and lotion, and the boys bought sandals and lotion. The lotion-buying each day makes me realize that one of the best ways to help these kids and their town is NOT to haul heavy supplies like lotion from the States, but rather bring money to buy supplies. Things that can be purchased here should be purchased here, helping the local merchants and economy.