In the Summer of 2010 I was one of many lucky people who had the opportunity to take a short trip to Haiti. I fell almost instantly in love and just can't keep myself away. I've spent about 11 months in Haiti since the first time I went two and a half years ago and my time there isn't over. I'm exploring my options on where to take my life from here but it WILL include Haiti in one form or another. This is where I record stories and thoughts about my experiences.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

school, babies, and lunch (most of my time is spent thinking of these three things)

Every morning when we start school we do a sort of circle time with all the kids. On Monday I got to lead it. Usually Sue does. I talked about Halloween and how kids in the states dress up. They told me which costumes they’d choose. One said “a doctor” and another one said “Jesus.” That night Katie and I were talking about how different their worlds are going to be once they go to the States. We were thinking about how our night here in Haiti was so different than the one kids in the states had. In each house in the United States kids spent their time picking through their trick-or-treat bags throwing away the candy they didn't want. If they got something “awful” and “boring” like peanuts or a pencil or something, they probably quickly passed it on to their mothers and fathers. However, here in Haiti, our kids spent their night searching through each garbage can in the house. They also picked through dirty diapers in the trash pile which is waiting to be burned in the back of the house. This is a daily occurrence here. Each day we find one of the kids with something that we had thrown away the day before. On Halloween, we found an old Pringles can which they used to hold their bar of soap. We also find the kids scraping out peanut butter jars or Gatorade drink packets for any last scraps of food. We find them chewing on old gum or scraping out the leftover powder from the formula containers. And always, they are sharing. Life is so different here. Before I came to Sue’s, I always used to picture the kids in Leogane living in the States and tried to imagine what they would think and do. I also thought of kids that I babysat in the States and tried to imagine how THEY would react to life in Haiti. It was hard for me to even begin to imagine how each would act. Here at Sue’s, this is a going to become a reality. All of these kids are eventually going to the U.S.  I wonder how it will be. Kids are flexible and I know they’ll acclimate eventually. I just wonder what they’re first reactions will be.

The babies’ mother and grandfather came to visit yesterday. When they showed up, my first thought was that they were there to take the babies back. I didn’t know what to think but I knew that I was so sad. I had it in my mind that they’d be here forever and I wouldn’t have to say goodbye for a long time. I was mostly worried because I didn’t want to think about what their life would be like. I would be worried about their health. I wholeheartedly think that children are meant to be with their mother and father and I wanted to be able to be happy for them if they went back. I also had been feeling really conflicted about the babies being here for the past few days. I sort of felt that we had stolen them from their mother or something. I was worried that someone had forced the mother to give her babies up. I didn’t want that to be the case. I didn’t know what was best in the situation. I wanted the mother to be with her babies and vice versa. However, the mother is 18 years old, mentally challenged, has only one leg, and is very poor. She had been feeding the babies cereal for the first month of their life because she couldn’t breast feed and couldn’t afford formula. They’re just so small I was worried that they weren’t strong enough to live in those conditions. None the less, I knew that I do not know what is best for the babies. The whole time the grandfather and mother were here I prayed that whatever happened that it was what was best for everyone.
The visit ended up being a great relief. I had a chance to observe the grandfather and mother. I saw how hard the mother would have had to work to keep the babies alive and healthy. She seemed happy to see the babies. When one of the women asked if she was happy that the babies were with Sue, the mother exclaimed “oh yes!!” with a big smile on her face. That made me think that hopefully she wasn’t forced to give them up. I was also happy because I got to take a photo of the babies with their mom (which I posted earlier). I asked her if I could do it so I can give the picture to the boys so they can have it when their older. She seemed happy. I was also surprised because the grandfather also asked for a picture with them so I could give it to the boys too.  The grandfather also offered to go and get the birth certificate for the boys and bring it to Sue. All in all, I think it’s a good thing that the boys are here. I’m sad that they don’t get to be with their mother. And I’m sad that they won’t get to grow up in their own country. I hope and pray that the people who adopt them love and respect Haiti. I hope that Noah and Jackson are going to grow up and not forget where they came from. I hope that they turn into smart young men who come back to Haiti to help improve the lives of people here.

On Wednesday, I decided to do school in the afternoon so that I could take a trip to the market with Fabula, the cook. I absolutely love going to the market places in Haiti. This one was located under a big roof and was cramped. It was different than the one in Leogane in that it had cement floors in most places rather than dirt/mud. People sit everywhere with their goods. Most people sit on the floor, on tarps with their goods neatly piled up in front of them. There are things like mangos, sacks of rice and grains, peppers, lettuce, carrots, soap, coconuts, cloves, bananas, limes, and so much more. Those who sell meat usually bring it to the market in huge chunks, most likely killed that morning. They set up on tables covered in dirty cardboard soaked in the juices from the meat, flies buzzing all around. They chop up the meat into the portions and lay it out for people to see. As we stood waiting for our 20 chicken legs, a woman walked up and started searching through the meat with her hands to choose the best pieces. It’s funny to think of our and sanitized deli departments with prepackaged and boneless meat in grocery stores in the U.S.

After returning from the market, I watched Fabula make my favorite dish, rice and bean sauce with chicken. She also made pikliz which is a really spicy cabbage salad thing.  I wrote down the recipes. Fabula said that one of these weeks that she’ll let me cook the chicken. I told her I need to learn so I can impress my American friends and family when I get home with my Haitian cooking.

Today I woke up at 4:45 with the babies and made some coffee. The other kids were up soon after that. Today we are going to make little journals with the school kids out of old cereal boxes. I am going to use them for a sticker book so that when the kids to extraordinarily good on their school work they’ll get a sticker to put in their book. I need some sort of reward to motivate them during the hard days. We’ll see how this works.

Last night I got so cold around 7 o'clock and I put on long sleeves and pajama pants. I was so cold last night and this morning too. Katie checked the weather, it was 79 degrees.

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