September 18, 2011

One Month in Haiti

The following is more or less an email I sent out this morning to friends and family....which I am posting here as I realized how many email addresses I don't have or how many are old and out of date.  Note to self, update contacts list. So without further ado:

My first official email newsletter is one month late, though I have started many drafts, here I sit with so much to share and not sure how best to start. I live in a children's village here near Jacmel in the direction of Cayes Jacmel in Cyvadier (which you won't find on a map). We are East of the Jacmel airport and if you look in Satellite view, I'm pretty sure we are hidden by the cloud.

It's been quite an adventure so far, I've met the most interesting people and visited the (in my life prior to this) unlikeliest places (with the possible exception of when Michelle and I took a detour on the wrong bus in Mexico). I've visited the cleanest little shack, one room for five people that was just big enough for one person to turn around in and two beds up on blocks because the house floods when it rains...we took pictures to see if we can't find someone to help fix the roof (their only complaint)... Another house that only has a bed sheet for a roof and inside lives two 18 month olds with sickle cell anemia, so bad they haven't learned to stand yet, because they are too weak. And a few other places I won't mention here because I don't know how to properly describe or explain.  If you've been to a third world country and left the main streets you can probably imagine, and if not, I don't know how to tell you, pictures would never even begin to show it (and that says a lot for someone who loves photography).

The children here are so beautiful, even when their arms show clear signs of malnutrition and starvation they smile and play and share with one another. The children's village has 66, 67 hopefully as of Monday provided her TB test comes back negative, children. Each with their own story and each with a unique personality. One of the most amazing stories, I am simply putting a link to my friend, and fellow worker here, Stacie's blog, as she has written it so beautifully.

The question I have gotten most often from people so far is what does a day look like for you, so here I will do my best to describe one for you:

Monday thru Saturday look almost the same for me... I wake up about 5/5:30 and spend some time reading my Bible and preparing for my day. I head down around 7 am to unlock the Big House and start laundry. I go over to the baby house and collect their dirty clothes hamper and Emmanuel - the sweetest little 9 month old boy- and return to start laundry. Then I snuggle Emmanuel until he falls asleep for his morning nap - if that happens before the breakfast bell at 8 I take him to his bed and get another baby, usually Jacob or Mirlande, and snuggle them until they fall asleep or I finish my breakfast. Our morning staff meeting occurs over breakfast where everyone takes turns listing their goals for the day. From there we adjourn to Bible study for 30 minutes. At this point the day begins in full swing. I try to spend my mornings with the 9 little girls that are "mine" ages 4-6. Usually this consists of jump rope, hand-clap games, or coloring/crafts. The boys often join us as they get upset that I "only do things with the girls." Lunch is at noon and is usually either beans and rice or pasta and chicken legs or hot dogs. With fried plantains and a bit of lettuce or tomato slices for side dishes. Then I try to get the administrative things I need to get done, accomplished. Stacie and Cameron have been gone for three weeks so I've been handling the ordering and delivery of our weeks supplies and making sure each house has what they need. I am also coordinating with groups coming in (which will be my main administrative function when Stacie gets back). By four most of the compound has found shade and the kids begin to come out of their houses - we believe in siestas around here to avoid the heat of the day. Three of the older girls, Valencia, Georgina, and Thaina have been helping Diane and I walk the babies up and down the driveway. We have 11 under the age of one, and they don't get out of their houses much.  All the kids like to play with them and usually want to help. The boys will often volunteer to push the strollers and if there is only one or two, we let them, more than that becomes a destructive force we aren't willing to subject the strollers, or babies to. The stereo often comes out about this time and music and dancing/ community begins to happen at the basketball court as the kids and nannies gather to talk and play. The toddlers often come and join in the fun. It can be crazy. The babies often take an evening nap around 5:30 so as they begin to fall asleep we put them in their beds. Dinner is at six and consists of whatever ingredients lunch didn't consist of, and sometimes the same ingredients put together a bit differently. We often unwind after dinner by watching a tv episode someone has on DVD - we just finished season 2 of White Collar. Then I'm in bed by 9 and ready to do it all again the next day.

Sundays are a bit more relaxed as the kids are gone all morning to church. We do church together here and then take it easy, sometimes go to the beach, though I'm skipping that as I got very dehydrated this week and i am avoiding the sun (good luck to me - note to self you are on a tropical island this may be difficult) for a couple days. I feel better today but it's easy to loose track of how much you sweat around here, so even when you think you are drinking enough water you probably aren't. For the most part it's hot and humid, the nannies in the baby houses laugh at how much I perspire - I don't know why they don't keep the fans on more soothe air will move - that alone keeps me a lot cooler - when I come into the upstairs nursery the nannies go ahead and hand me a cloth to wipe my face with! Lol.

We made it through an outbreak of chicken pox in the baby houses pretty quickly. And it doesn't seem to have spread beyond a couple of the toddlers. We are getting ready for school to start in October, and have been sizing uniforms and making sure everyone is ready. I'm sure once school gets going again my day will shift and look totally different.

For those of you still reading this massively long email (post), thank you for your love and support! There is so much to be done in Haiti, and most of it is long term; not the throw aid at people type of relief that seems to happen in many places. I am blessed by the opportunity to be here and thank you each for your support. Send me emails or facebook me. Let me know what is going on at home, as I get a bit disconnected from the rest of the world.

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