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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Updates on previous posts

The number 19 is back down to 18. The woman who does laundry came back with family members. The baby's aunt on the fathers side said that she wanted to take care of him. The mother has come back to do laundry every day since and seems in a good mood. I hope that things are going to work out for everyone to be happy and healthy. I'm glad that he can stay in Haiti with people who love him.

Below I've posted some pictures of Yveline from her first year graduation. They have a party/graduation every time they successfully complete a year of school. 

Yveline is on the very right hand side in the front

Yveline is on the far left
We have found a family interested in adopting the boys. I've been in contact with them and am excited to learn more about them. I feel "right" about them and a peace that I hadn't felt with other families who showed interest. Please keep praying about this that it will work out for everyone if it's the place that the boys are supposed to go. I know that the family is working very hard to get things in place for the adoption and they are trying to figure out the best time to come visit. They seem very excited and so am I! It will be the hardest thing to leave my boys but it will make it easier if I know they're going to the perfect family.


Guitna, Jousline, Shabeen. My girls in Leogane.

Katie and I holding the boys in our new carriers!

Jean, me, and Shelanda



Jackson and Noah

Noah, me, and Jackson doin' what we do


Me and Noah

Jean, Diana, and Francesca making a train

Jean and his two favorite girlfriends

Peter doing his first book report

Michaelle loves school! (sometimes)

Bath time

Monday, January 30, 2012

blan missionaries, guilt, and cheesecake

I'm still in Bon Reops but I wanted to recap some things that happened while I was in Leogane with the girls a few weeks ago.

During our trip, Amy and I decided to catalog all the girls that were there. We took pictures, wrote down names, and measured their waste sizes. We had some underwear to pass out to all the girls so we ordered the girls names from biggest waste size to smallest. It was amazing to see the order of girls. When Amy and I were looking at it we realized that it matched up completely with their social status. The girls with the biggest waste size were definitely the girls who have the most power in the orphanage. That's how it is throughout all of Haiti too. People with more money (power) typically have bigger waste sizes. Our list of sizes of the girls was an interesting (and unintentional) test of the social ladder within the orphanage.

Unrelated, except for the fact that it took place in Leogane: One night, all of the girls were "playing" church. It was hilarious! All the kids were involved which was fun. Some of the older girls dressed up in ridiculous church outfits which made us all laugh. The girls who dressed up ended up pretending to be"blan" missionaries. Yveline (the nursing student) was among the blans. They did the normal church routine of going up in front of the congregation to introduce themselves like any other church service I've been too. Their portrayal of white missionaries had me laughing as well as thinking. She introduced herself and said "Silence! I am happy to see you. I speak piti piti Creole. We are Americans and we are here to help you. You love us. (a girl behind her touches her) OH! Haiti has a problem because you touch me. Don't touch me. Thank you." After her speech, she opened up her purse and started throwing candy out to the congregation (where she got candy, I have no idea. but apparently they wouldn't be white missionaries without it.) Their impression of white missionaries is very hilarious but also disheartening. I have had my own opinion of the behavior of people (like myself) who come into this country ready to help and a lot of is isn't positive. It was interesting to see the girls impression of how white missionaries act and what they're here to do. The girls who played missionaries didn't stand at the front of the church asking how they could help, they stood at the front and stated what they were there to do and then threw candy at people. Is that really all we accomplished my first week-long trip here? I sure did bring candy. I sure did come with a VBS planned without knowing if that was truly the need. I sure did think those kids loved me. Is that the impression I left on all the people I interacted with while I was here? I want to be making a bigger change than that.

I have been thinking a lot about this recently and I'm slowly losing hope in the human race. Even (especially) myself. Sometimes all I can think about is when my time will be up in Haiti so I can go home buy a $5 coffee without thinking about the kids who don't eat and can't even play because their little bodies can't muster up enough energy from lack of food. I want to get a pedicure and go see a movie then buy a new outfit. I want to spend $25 on a meal at the Cheescake factory and buy a $7 margarita. But then I look around and I see Tchaly (malnurished), the mother of the twins (can't keep her own children because of lack of support, money, everything), Migluise (dead from high blood pressure), and many, many others. None of them  have a date to look forward to where they get to do all those things on my list.

I feel guilty for wanting those things. But it doesn't make me not want them. Amy and I have talked about guilt and she was talking about how guilt is good for us because it propels us to change. I made a change to come live in Haiti. But it doesn't seem to be enough. What is enough? What am I supposed to be doing? Do I need to keep changing until there is no guilt left? Is it ever possible to have an absence of guilt? I think part of the reason I came to Haiti was to try and escape guilt, but it's not working. I'm still the same selfish person I was before I left.

I'm reading the book "After Shock" by Kent Annan and it often parallels with so much of what I am thinking and feeling. Here is a section that I read just today:

Circling Like Angels (Like Vultures)

On the plane with thirty-four people,
Circling in toward destruction.
Like angels (like vultures).

The city collapsed six days ago. The easy-to-reach cadavers: burned already.
The drive up Rue Delmas this time - the thousandth time - will apparently stink of rotting flesh instead of gas fumes.

Why do we go?
Flee in horror; run to watch.
Run to help; flee to get away.

Many want to go help. More than can make in on the limited flights. Waiting lines. Finding a way via the Dominican Republic. Clamoring for access like it's a Disney ride in high season. It's a small world, after all.

This time it makes sense for me. It didn't after the tsunami. This time I have to go. I didn't after New Orleans. I do not. (Celebrities always do. Good for them. They have the means to do what makes them feel alive.)
My goddaughter is sleeping now in a bean field;
her family's home destroyed.

 Death slammed shut for so many.
Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo. Open and shut. I just kissed my son goodbye.
We circle in closer, like cultures, like angels.

I grew up on the edge of fundamentalism: Purity and Holiness, words deeply important.
    Other words, to me, have taken higher priority now: Justice and Humility.
But the words change easier than the shape of your soul.

This drive for purity is in me and I recognize it now and am disappointed that purity once again stays elusive, a shadow dancing with blurry edges on the cave's wall as the real world operates elsewhere.

And in this tragedy of historic proportions - not even purity here, among the impure mix of shattered concrete blocks and blood?

No. Personally and in those I'm circling down with, one recognizes the opportunity to help but also to be: courageous, heroic, compassionate, and just a little better than everyone else who isn't going. To feel more alive.

Some clamoring to get down are so transparent in their messages, and on Face book and on Twitter, doing it for their own sake. Can't you invite admiration more subtly, I think in disgust? You'll blow the cover for the rest of us.

Occasionally givers are mostly concerned about themselves, about the integrity of their money, making sure it doesn't go to any waste, making sure it goes to what they need to feel. Their attraction to help goes so quickly through the filter of their self-importance that it's hard to take seriously.

Except that those in need seriously need them.

We each make meaning in our lives with our decisions.

This is what attracts us to suffering. The plot of our own stories makes more sense if we make a difference for other people.
   We circle like vultures (like angels) seeking meaning, to reinforce the better parts of ourselves.

We're repelled but attracted to:
a. the genuine possibility of helping
b. wanting the same help for ourselves if the roles were reversed, and
c. the possibility of finding meaning and feeling better about ourselves.
We want to help but are repelled when it:
a. brings us closer to meaninglessness, to questions rather than answers, and
b. reveals us as more selfish - even as we give- than generous.

We want to find proof of God, one way or the other.
We shouldn't turn away, one way or the other.

Like angels, we help. Like vultures, we scavenge on the suffering of others to feed our hunger for meaning. {Purity cannot be checked in or carried on for these flights. The baggage is ourselves. Always ourselves.

The U.S. military radios approval to the pilot. Time to land. My heart isn't pure, but it is broken. I need to be near.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Help! Updated

Just wanted to give a BIG THANK YOU to all of those who donated money to Yveline's nursing school fund. We ended up raising enough money for her for one more year! She is VERY thankful and was so excited when we told her. The money that was raised will change her life and give her opportunities that very few people have here in Haiti. Education is the most important thing for getting a job. A job means money, and money means she won't starve or have to look for other ways of getting by. One year of school may not seem like a life or death issue to most of us in the United States but here in Haiti one more year of school very well could be saving her life. 

Thank you!!!

18 kids and counting

I'm back in Bon Repos. My trip to Leogane was WONDERFUL and relaxing. I missed the girls so much and it was good to see them for a long period of time. I wished I could have stayed longer. I did miss my boys back in Bon Reops though and when I saw them I cried. That was unexpected. It's hard to love kids in two different places! I wish I could be in Leogane and Bon Repos at the same time.

Today the number of children living in this house went from 18 to 19. We got another baby. He's one year old and beautiful. He is the baby of the woman who does laundry for Sue. I'm feeling really weighed down.  It's really hard to process how difficult life is for people here in Haiti. It's hard to see a woman who has a job (which pays more than average for Haiti) not be able to afford to feed her kid. She has another child who is in school and all her wages are going to keeping him in school. She has the option of giving one of her children up for adoption to give the other a good life. How does a mother make that decision? I can't imagine how hard that must be to make that choice. But how many people in Haiti don't have any choices but to let their kids starve? How many people in Haiti have five or six or ten kids to feed and clothe and send to school and can't afford it? If things are expensive for a mom with only 2 kids and a job, how hard must it be for families with no working parents? What do they do? What do I do about it? I'm feeling hopeless.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


My visit to Leogane has been AWESOME. I love these girls a ton. Right now Amy and I are in Jacmel visiting friends. I'll write more about that later.

But for now...

My friend at the orphanage in Leogane, Yveline, has been attending nursing school for the past year. Last year we set it up that Extollo ( would pay for her education in exchange for her taking care of a baby named Charlie who wasn't getting enough care. There was a miscommunication in how much her school would cost and now Extollo is now unable to pay for the last two years of her education. Extollo is trying to raise money right now to build a trade school and have limited funds. But they're not giving up on Yveline and neither are we. Yveline was informed yesterday that there was no more money. We talked with her and she was devastated. One year of education isn't going to get her anywhere. My friend Amy and I have been thinking a lot about how hard it is for kids to age out of orphanages. Where are they supposed to go? How will they make money? Where will they live? There is no one to teach them what to do. Yveline worked hard to finish high school which only a very small percentage of Haitians do because the exams are really difficult. She's a hard worker and that's why we knew she would put a nursing education to use. This is her opportunity to make something of her life.

So what can you do to help??

We (and Extollo) still want to help Yveline and we hope you do too. If we can raise $1,000 it will allow her to go to school for another year. This is her only hope for continuing her education.

In the United States, education means a better job and more money. In Haiti, it means life.

If you're interested in donating you can go to the Extollo website (, fill out the form and click on "general fund." You also need to email with your name, donation amount and a note that it's for Yveline.


Thursday, January 5, 2012


Since all the workers had family member who died and left, a lot more troubles have happened... It's been a very stressful time couple of weeks.

One of the other workers had to go home for a while because her 15 year old nephew got hit by a car and died. She's been gone for the past couple of days. The Laundry lady finally came back which is good. She had a TON of laundry to catch up on over the past few days but with help from the kids, she got it done! We have a ceramic water filter that we use. That stopped working about a week ago. Now we have to go out and buy water and carry it every day. During the holidays all the stores were closed so we almost ran out of water a few times. Somehow it always worked out at the last second and we could buy one more jug. Not only did we have a hard time finding water during the holidays, we also almost didn't have dinner for the kids a few nights. The workers had to walk all the way to town (no taptaps during the holidays) just to try and find bread. Hungry kids are cranky kids. In the midst of all that Sue got sick. One  day she stayed in bed the whole day which never happens. I was really worried and almost took her to the doctors. She ended up feeling OK after a day but she said it was the worst her lungs have ever hurt. On the day that Sue got sick, we got four visitors from the U.S. They're a college group from Florida. The next day, 14 more people came to visit. They're all staying for about a week. Currently, there is a total of 41 people sleeping in this house. The floors are literally covered in people. Did I mention that all these visitors are sharing our ONE bathroom with a door? That's one shower, one toilet, and one sink for all the visitors and us to use. Luckily most of the kids don't use that bathroom... I don't know how we all end up getting showers. Luckily, I'm up with the babies before everyone else in the morning and can sneak and use the bathroom first. I had to brush my teeth outside last night because I got sick of waiting for the bathroom after an hour. Craziness!!! 

Lucky for me, I am leaving for Leogane today. I am feeling a BIT guilty for leaving Sue during this crazy time but hopefully it will be OK. I need the break. I'm most looking forward to a guaranteed 8 (or more!) hours of sleep a night for two whole weeks. Oh, and I get to see the girls and Amy! ;) I'm very excited. I'm worried about leaving the babies with Sue for the whole time. That's a lot of extra work. But Katie came back so she will help out. 

Please be praying for...
-Sue to stay healthy
-Amy and I's trip to Leogane to be productive and fun
-Things not to be too crazy for Sue while I'm gone
-For calm in the house even though there are so many people packed in!