Day 7: August 26, 2010

Standard

sTarted today with time with preschoolers.  The older Ti Mun (children) go to summer school each day from 8-10am so that allows us some time with the younger ones.  We went in to town again to visit baby Sophia and Mama.  Turns out Mama has TB so they have quarantined her the best they can.  The medical ward is one room with 20-30 beds (all full) lying side by side.  Mama’s quarantine is in the back of the room curtained off.  It’s the nicest room in the whole internal medicine.  They’ve started treating baby sophia for TB as well.
We went across the street to visit a baby H & F is trying to get custody of.  He lives with the Sisters of Charity.  They are a nun group who care for ill orphans.  Unfortunately we tried all week but were never able to visit for one reason or another.

Me chatting with lady selling grapes at Hardware store
Little girl who begged for water at hardware store

Let me just mention how hot is was today.  I think the rains from last night did something to make it even hotter today.  That said Mama Michelle took us back to the hardware store in Jacmel.  The orphanage is actually in a city called Cyvadier.  I chose to sit outside on a ledge by the street.  This hardware store holds many of my memories.  Both times we visited I was able to be a quiet observer of all the outside world.  It’s a busy, filthy world but not one that sparks fear.  Instead it slaps me in the face with the harsh realities of how different our worlds are.  As an American I am without nothing but so many on this planet are just fighting for existence.  This second visit I was just sitting and watching when a beautiful, young girl who was 6 years old approached me.  Her dress was too small, she had no shoes but she could smile and warm your spirit.  Well once she buttered me up she went in for the kill…”mademoiselle,   agua please?”  She wanted my water bottle.  A frozen bottle of aquafina.  Another luxury I have that she has to beg strangers for.  Another harsh slap in the face.  Of course I gave it to her and I felt good in a small, selfless kind of way…until 2 minutes later she returned to show me the cigarette she traded or sold my ice water for!  She says it’s for her Mama.  Oh well.  I did watch her take a few sips before she bartered it for her Mama’s smoke.
Mama Michelle figured since it was such a wonderful, hot day she would take us to the market.  I’ve been to a foreign market in Kazakhstan that we called scary market.  Well scary market has nothing on the market of Jacmel.  There are absolutely no words to describe this place.  My family might starved to death while naked if I had to do my shopping here each week.  there are hundred of people packed in to a place made for dozens not hundreds.  It’s tightly packed under tarps with locals selling anything from fly infested produce and meat to clothing, tools, toiletries, etc, etc.  The meat is being butchered by a woman in a dress as you walk by.  Men are carrying live chickens by the feet to sell.  Every few feet the hot and humid air carries a new stench into your nostrils.  One second is human sweat then urine then rotten fish and then, yes, dirty crotch!  It’s so thick you wish you could turn most of your senses off and relieve your throat of the bile that is accumulating.  You hear the sounds of bartering but mostly you hear the word blancs repeated over and over.  Our skin is noticed here and definitely of interest. They know that money comes with the blancs.  The best way to sum the market: think swap meet on steroids AND crack!  And let me tell you crack is definitely whack;)
After the market we visited a private hospital.  While still nothing compared to a US hospital it becomes very clear what money can buy for you.  There is a vast disparity between public and private healthcare.
I never tire of these trips to town.  For me it’s great to see a culture and community at work.  I’m thankful for each peek inside the Haitian world.
Back to the house where the girls and I have Francine (one of the nannies) braid our hair.  Whe gives us each corn rows in exchange for 5 US dollars.  I often wonder what happens to that money the orphanage staff makes.  They are well paid and therefore rich Haitians.  The braids are authentic but hurt so bad.  I’m going to try and leave them in until my boys can see them.
Next we had a birthday party for the August birthdays (Jessica, Schineider, and Marco).  Cupcakes, brownies and gifts.  Then we headed out to watch a local futbol match.  Unfortunately we got there and it had been canceled.  The kids were so disappointed and begged to go to a restaurant instead.  It’s sad that in America we take these simple things for granted.  If someone says there’s going to be a game there will be a game.  If we want to go to a restaurant we just go.  Nothing is simple here.

Sadly it was time to say goodbye.  We would be leaving in the morning before the kids are up.  Saying goodbye was hard.  Some kids had me choked up. Maudeline was one of those for me.  She hugged me so hard and my heart broke for her.  She will never have a family and groups like ours come and go every week.  Maudeline is a girl that had such temper issues when she arrived that they could no longer keep her in the house with the other girls.  She moved in with a nanny and after a year of working with her they have helped her to become a secure, genuine, and helpful young woman.  Then there was Kerby.  Oh how I love Kerby.  He’s a little 3 year old boy who’s deaf.  He doesn’t hear but he loves life. And Renaldo.  He can be very difficult.  In fact he slapped my face and bit me the 2nd day we were there but you get him one on one and he’s calm, cuddly and eager to learn.  Renaldo and LeJean are siblings.  They watched their mother die in the earthquake.  We can’t even imagine the tragedies these children have suffered.  Christela was dropped to the bottom of a well as a newborn and will be adopted by H & F owners very soon.  There are 40+ other stories just like theirs.  Stories of abandonment, abuse, and tragedy.  H & F is doing a remarkable job to love and cherish these children.  I 100% back their efforts to love the Haitians not change or fix the Haitians.  They are a model of true love.

Jacmel Market

Packed and finished our project.  The project is fabulous.  47 kids faceshots with their names laminated and hung in the volunteer house.  16 nannies and cooks too.

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About ThinkingWithVitality

Wife, mama, wellness coach, certified vet tech, adoption and special needs advocate, Tucsonan turned Portlander finding her way in Texas, adventure seeker, wannabe vegetarian, freethinker, knowledge hunter, secular humanist. Love writing, distance running, cycling, hiking, photography, nature, essential oils, natural medicine, traveling, RVs and tents, reading, adventures, organizing, helping others, good beer, acoustic music and sadly the time sucking passion of pinterest.

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