I am feeling RELIEVED. Roy and Cassandra Garza (the people adopting Jackson and Noah. http://ourheart4haiti.weebly.com/) came for their visit. I was so nervous waiting for them to get here. I was scared of so many things. I was scared I wouldn't like them. I was scared I wouldn't think they were good enough for my boys. I was scared that they wouldn't like me! I was scared I would be jealous of them. When they arrived, I picked up the boys and carried them out to them. Jackson and Noah went right to them without complaint. That never happens! Jackson just looked into Roy's face and was touching him and studying him. Noah laid his head on Cassandra's chest and seemed so content. I just felt so relieved from the second they met the boys and throughout their entire visit I just kept getting signs that this was meant to be. At no point was I jealous or sad that they were their parents. I have always thought of the boys as mine, and only mine. But meeting Roy and Cassandra and seeing them with the boys I realize that this was all in God's miraculous plan. I love the boys so much and I will always think of them as the first kids I've had, but I know that they aren't meant to be with me forever. Roy and Cassandra are supposed to have them. They can give the boys everything that I can't and more. I just wish that they could go home to the Garza family right now!
I can't believe it, but I am leaving Sue's in one short week. My nine months here has flown by. I have been in a daze and can't really grasp the fact that I will be leaving very soon. I can't imagine how I will react. I pray that the sadness I will feel won't paralyze me. It seems impossible to just leave after being here and sharing life with all these amazing kids for so long. But it's happening. I will leave. And I will be OK. Not right away.. But eventually. I am very thankful that I'm leaving the kids in a place where I know they will be safe and well cared for. But that won't make me miss them any less.
A few days ago, I had an adventure. One that I'd like not to repeat. Ever. It was one of those days that for every step I took forward, I took one back. A while ago, I got a call from one of the older girls in Leogane named Roberline. She had left the orphanage and had no place to go. She kept me updated and eventually found a place with a friend who she called her older "brother." She felt safe but was worried that he wouldn't let her stay forever. She knew that she didn't have an option of going to school because of a lack of money. After being at her older "brother's" house for a few days, she called me crying saying that he was kicking her out. I panicked and called a friend that I knew may be able to help. She is an American who has a nonprofit and lives in an area close to Leogane. She had two friends who could help, a child psychologist and a social worker. She worked really hard to get these busy people all the way out to Leogane for a special visit to Roberline. I was so grateful! The plan was for all of us to meet at my friends house and figure out how best to help Roberline, whether it be helping her find family members, or helping her go to a school, or a different orphanage.
Of course, it didn't work out so smoothly as I had hoped. But this is Haiti and I should have expected that. First off, I had asked Frankie to help me get there but he showed up late, and without his car. We ended up having to take taptaps (public transportation) all the way from Bon Reops to Leogane. Since he was late, it was bad timing for traffic. On top of that, I couldn't get a hold of Roberline to tell her where to go. I was frantically calling Roberline and others to try and find her. Meanwhile, the child psychologist and the social worker had already arrived and were waiting impatiently. They have busy schedules and were getting angry that they had to wait around for us. Finally, they settled down and decided to wait. I finally got a hold of a different girl who is friends with Roberline who knew where she was and could help find her. I was still on a taptap in traffic with Frankie. Before I even arrived in Leogane, they found Roberline and had a meeting with her. It turned out to be good and they are going to help her find her mother. They are also going to keep in contact with her and make sure that she gets to go to a good school to graduate. Roberline will stay with her brother. It turns out that he never was going to kick her out and it was all a misunderstanding. I found all of this information out once I finally arrived at my friends house after everyone had already left and the meeting was done and over with. I stayed and talked to my friend a bit about the situation but had to leave in order to get home before dark.
After all that trouble I was thankful that it had worked out OK even though I didn't end up making it on time. But the trouble wasn't over. Traffic was HORRIBLE and after a while on taptaps I was worried that we wouldn't make it back before dark. Then things got worse. We were on a taptap in Port au Prince when a GIANT storm came out of no where. I was sure that it was either a hurricane or the end of the world. The streets quickly flooded. Car's all around us were drowning out their engines. Our bus driver stopped the bus and told us that he was not braving the storm and that he was turning around and going home. We had no other choice but to get out and start walking/swimming through the dirty flooded streets since no taptaps seemed to be running. There were several times that I thought that I wouldn't make it back alive but Frankie and I couldn't just stop to wait until the rain stopped because we were pressed for time. It seemed like we walked FOREVER. We were SOAKING wet. We finally got to a place where there were some motorcycles. The streets were so flooded that none of them were willing to go out for fear of flooding their engines or crashing their bikes. One guy agreed to take us on a different, less flooded route. Again, I truly thought that I was going to die. He went so fast and we almost hit so many people. I was scared and just wanted to be home safe. luckily, we didn't crash or hit any people and the moto driver finally got us to a place where the taptaps were running regularly again. We got on a taptap and sat in more traffic, freezing cold, but eventually made it back to Sue's alive. However, at home the gate was locked and everyone was asleep because it was 9:30. Of course, my phone had died earlier in the day so I couldn't call anyone to wake them up. Sue had no idea where I was either because I hadn't had a chance to call her before my phone died. We pounded on the gate for at least 15 minutes before Roy woke up and let me in. I was so happy to be home alive.
That is not an experience that I ever wish to have again. However, I think I learned a little more about what it's like to live in Haiti. Everyone I saw while I was walking in knee deep water through the flooded streets of Port au Prince freaked out. It's not every day that they see a white woman walking in the streets during a monsoon. People hollered at me and thought it was so funny to see a foreigner soaking wet and walking right along with everyone else. I didn't think much of it until something happened that made me see what a spectacle I really was. A white man in a big, fancy truck drove by and was VIDEO TAPING me, along with all the rest of the stranded people. He didn't stop to help anyone. No one looked twice at him though, only me. Why is that? It is more likely to see a white person sitting comfortably in a big, fancy truck hiding behind a video camera taping the real lives of Haitians than is it for them to see a white person walking beside them and with them. I didn't do this on purpose. I didn't CHOOSE to be walking along side everyone else in the storm. I would rather have been in a big fancy truck, safe and dry. But I wasn't. I felt awful when I saw that man drive right by me. Why didn't he stop and help? Am I not worth it? Didn't he care how dangerous it was to be walking on those flooded streets?? It made me angry, sad, and confused. Although I would have been safer in a fancy truck, I'm glad I wasn't. I got to experience something that most white don't ever see. That day, I was walking WITH the people of Haiti. It's something that can rarely happen because I automatically come with privilege which makes me the "other." That's hard, if not impossible to change. But that day, I wasn't the one in the safety that an expensive, four-wheel truck can buy. I was on the other side. I was with the majority of the Haitian population that can't always afford safety. It wasn't fun, but I was experiencing something real. Something that I didn't have the privilege to change. I was in the same boat as everyone else that was caught walking in the storm.