The next couple of days in Haiti were awesome. Difficult, but awesome.
Monday we were able to sleep in a bit... and by "sleeping in" I probably didn't roll out of bed until 6 a.m. The sun rises super early in Haiti, so with wide open windows (to allow any breeze in), we always woke up early.
Monday was our first day of attending summer day camp. We'd been told that for some of the kiddos who attend, day camp might be their only meals for the week. One child even walked about 2.5 hours each way to participate. We jumped rope, hula hooped, and played soccer before we sat with the kiddos for worship and crafts. Monday was the first day I carried my camera with me. Prior to that, taking pictures just felt intrusive. But I'd ask the kiddos if I could take their pics, and they obliged.
|We all showed up in grey - total coincidence.|
|Sweet Joanna - she speaks perfect English. She is a sweetheart.|
|Little Memaw - we now help sponsor her every month.|
After camp, we geared up for an emotional trip to a local orphanage - Maison des Enfants de Dieu. Some of what I saw is breathtaking. I watched a young girl with autism cling to Anthony as he played her music on his phone. I watched kids laughing as they were being rolled around by other kids in a wheel barrow. There was an older girl there with severe cerebral. I couldn't help but think about the care she would receive here in the states as I constantly swatted away flies around her mouth and sores. I saw a little girl who was missing a leg and some of her fingers smile and laugh as she mad her way around the infant room. I lasted in the toddler room about two minutes... the 2-3 year olds swarmed and would climb all over you. My mama instincts kept kicking in as they'd stand on top of their double decker beds. That room was chaos! It was at Maison that I learned about joy in Haiti. In the midst of adversity, these resilient children were so full of joy and just wanted to be laughed and loved. Despite the conditions, and some of them were bad - cribs stacked on each other that looked like cells, no air conditioning, flies - lots and lots of flies), there was joy.
After seeing these babies like this, I asked about adoption. It's apparently very expensive - I heard the sum $40,000 thrown out once. And it can take years - 4-7 is the typical time frame. It seemed so wrong that these kiddos would be deprived of loving families willing to adopt them.
But back to joy... there was a puppy at the orphanage. A PUPPY!!! I'd seen so many dogs running around the streets and I'd been told not to pet them (because of fleas, etc.). But this puppy was fair game. And I feel in love.
But the best part of the visit was hanging out with Wilson. Wilson has cerebral palsy and he's non-verbal, but he was so happy to see us. I sat next to him for a while to just chill and he started stroking my hair. So I took my bun out and let him go to town. We sat there together for 15 minutes.
I learned that day that kids with disabilities are often abandoned - their parents just don't have the resources to care for them. The same goes for typically developing kids too. Our team leader Kyle told us that 87% of the orphans end up in that situation because of poverty, not because they are unwanted. As a mom, this really affected me. I realized how important organizations like I'm Me, myLIFEspeaks and this orphanage are - they want to keep families united so the function to give these families and kids a hand up... not a hand out. They are committed to equipping the folks of Haiti to be contributing members of society with the hope of maintaining families.
That night, we got to hang with the I'm Me kiddos and chill on the rooftop. It was another beautiful night of fun and fellowship. Both were needed after a long, emotional day.
As if that day hadn't been life changing enough, the following day was awesome. It deserves it's own post. Check back tomorrow!