Sunday, January 31, 2010
After being told that we are stuck here, we spent an hour calling hotels and hostels trying to find the cheapest one. We settled on Motel 6 as most places were around 200 and that was only 75. We wanted to take a public bus, but it didn’t come for another two hours and it was a very roundabout way to get there. We finally ended up taking a taxi. Once we got to Motel 6, we ended up not staying there because we couldn’t check in for several hours and they had nowhere to go. We ended up walking to two other hotels and staying at the Best Western that we stayed at the first time. It was slightly more expensive, but since it has a free shuttle to the airport it will basically be a wash, plus it’s way nicer!
First we took advantage of the free breakfast, then we went to our room and took a long nap. Now we are trying to go to the beach or down town, but don’t want to pay for a taxi. There isn’t a great bus system around here so we will probably have to! It is really cloudy out today and is supposed to rain. Hopefully not though!
We had an awesome afternoon there! We walked up to the only Monument in the city, which was on the highest point and was several stories tall! There were some crazy stuff in there, but I’m sure if we knew the Dominican’s history it would make more sense. There were some awesome costumes that we assume must be for mardi gras or something. Pics below!
Next we went out to an awesome dinner. I had stuffed chicken which was kind of like chicken cour don blue, but way better, and nick has sea bass. We missed converted the difference between pesos and dollars, so the meal was more expensive than we thought, but it was still really good. Initially we wanted to convert the money the same as Mexican pesos, but quickly learned that was not right!
We enjoyed our overly priced hotel for the whole 4 hours we had it. When we checked out at 2 am, we were hoping that it would be a lot cheaper than we were originally quoted. When we got there I said that we wanted the cheapest room available and they put us into the Deluxe Plus room. However it had not been cleaned so we were downgraded to a standard room which was fine by us because we wanted to save money. There was a clear difference in quality between the two rooms. The light didn’t even work in the second bathroom, so we had to shower with the door open in order to see.
Apparently management doesn’t think there is a big difference in the quality of room because the standard is only $3 cheaper than the Deluxe Plus. We argued with them for a while, but they would not give it to us for any cheaper.
Flight to Florida was fine, we both slept for most of it!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
We just arrived in Santiago and are cheked into our hotel! The bus ride was pretty good! It took us over an hour to get across the boarder, and 8 hours from the time we left COTP to get here. We were given food on the bus which was great because we hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch. Our favorite part is when they decided they were going to give us all pop, so they passed out used plastic Royal Carribean cups to pour it into! I decided to pass, but Nick drank his sprite anyway!
It is really weird coming across, because the Dominican side is way nicer than the Haiti side. It’s like night and day. Haiti is covered in trash and all the houses are falling apart. The DR is clean with paved roads and nice houses.
Last night we tried looking up hotels to stay in tonight, but the internet was so slow that we only found one hotel. We were hoping to find a hole in the wall because we don’t want to spend much money and we are leaving at 2am anyways. This place is really fancy, but it was the only hotel name we knew and since we don’t know Spanish couldn’t ask for any cheaper ones. When we got here, I asked the guy at the front desk for the cheapest room and we were put into the “Deluxe Plus” room. When we got there, it had not been cleaned, so they down graded us to another room that is not nearly as fancy. We are fine with this and hope that this room will be quite a bit cheaper but we will see!
When we first arrived in Haiti two weeks ago, we had a hard time not saying ci and gracis. After spending so much time speaking Creole, it’s hard not to say wi and meci! I wanted to say bye to some kids at the boarder, but couldn’t remember how to say it in Spanish until I got on the bus!
Off to find some lunch and see the town!
Friday, January 29, 2010
The little girl in our room has been doing great today! She has eaten a ton, smiles, laughed a little, crawled a little, and even put pressure on her legs! She is turning into such a sweet heart! A little bit ago she even waved to me. She definitely thinks she is a princess and I love it! I took her over to the baby house today and all the nannies in the boat room kept asking when they would get her. They can’t wait for her to come and they want to braid her hair
She has been talking a little, right now she keeps saying da-da-da. She just rolled herself onto her side, which is the first time I have seen her do that! Currently she keeps putting her foot on my computer trying to help me type! I am going to be sad to leave her tomorrow, but I know she will be taken care of. She will probably be gone by time we get back, but that will be ok!
We took in another little boy today who is 2 and weighs only 15lbs. He is very tiny and looks really sick. His hair is orange which is a sign of malnutrition. We have put him on medika mamba, which looks and smells like liquidy peanut butter. He just needs to eat a little bit of this and it’ll give them his daily amount of nutrients. It is designed specifically for malnourished children.
Whenever we leave the bato room, all the kids blow kisses at us. It is so cute. I told the Lions today that we were going home and they were really sad. One of the boys is so ready to go home to his mommy and daddy and ask all the time when he gets to leave. He is one of my favorites here, and when I told him I was leaving he had a hard time even looking at me because he was so sad. They all gave us hugs and kisses before we left which was so cute! Most of these kids (hopefully) will be gone by time we get back. This is a bitter sweet thing because we love these kids and want to see them again, but we also want them to go home to their mommy and daddy.
We leave tomorrow at 6:30 am to start our 3 day journey back to Bellingham. I am not sure how often we will have internet, but I will update as much as possible. Everyone one wanted us to stay another week. They even had a flight on the corporate jet lined up for us next Saturday to fly more kids to the States, but I didn’t feel like I could afford to miss any more school. Nick and I discussed it a lot, but I have a lot of papers due next week and some presentations coming up. I couldn’t bring my books because they weighed too much to bring on the plane, so I haven’t been able to keep up with my school work. I am going to have so much when I get home. I cant wait to be back here and hope that July comes soon!!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
New born to Just crawling
Just Crawling to Just walking
Just walking to two
Two to Three
Three to 5
Also, we have a special care unit for kids who are sick. This is normally 2-3 kids with one nanny. For really sick kids, they will stay in the volunteer room. These ages aren’t always accurate, we more separate the kids by development than by age, but this gives you a rough idea of where each kid is.
She sits up really well on her own and is somewhat alert. I had cheerios in my hand and she was able to grab them from me and feed herself which is great. She can not crawl yet so we will have to work on that. She smiled to one of the other children here tonight which is a huge accomplishment. Before long she will be laughing! She has already started to talk and move more than she was this morning! Right now she is laying in my arms as I type, she is so cute!
She has a ton of hair, so after I gave her a bath, I put it in a fro and added a head band. She looks adorable, especially in her brand new onezy. I’ll have to hide her from the nannies though or they will re-braide her hair.
Another lady brought her daughter to us today, but will have to bring her back later because she didn’t have any of her documentation. We try to get a birth certificate and other documents incase the parents don’t return because that makes the adoption process way faster. Plus it’s nice to know a little bit about our kids.
Every night before bed Nick and I spend some time in the baby house and hold the children. Another one of the Batos is walking! When we were in the Lion room, the two boys were singing and doing the hand motions to Jesus loves me this I know! They are so cute!
The helicopter has yet to land, although we are still being told it is coming!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Apparently all the volunteers had already seen it. I was disappointed. If this much can change in the day and a half that I am gone, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when I return in 6 months. All the kids are going to come and go and I will have to relearn everyone’s names. We are really tempted to just stay, only if I could finish my degree up online!
The other little girl that I have been trying to get to walk took two small steps today. They weren’t big, but I was proud of her. I hope that she will be walking by time I leave!
One thing that I have read on adoptive parents blogs is that when they get their child home they are terrified of the pet dog. I have made it a goal of mine to have the kids help feed and take care of the 4 dogs we have here so that they won’t be scared when they go home. The problem is that the nannies are terrified of the dogs and tell the kids that if they don’t behave they will throw them out with the dogs and they’ll be attacked.
Today I was petting Roxy, the boxer that we have, and a few of the kids came over and petted her too. They were all very hesitant and ran away any time that she flinched, but still even getting close to her is a big deal. One boy kept trying to kick and stand on Roxy, and I had to teach him that we have to be nice to puppies. Roxy needs a little work as well. She is not quite a year yet, and still is a little feisty. I hope to get her to calm down so that she can be the kid’s dog. Animals are such great companions for kids and I think she could really be a great asset to these kids!
The plane wasn’t even supposed to land in Cap, but it stopped there just to drop me off before continuing on to Port. Nick was there waiting for me when I got in! He was proud of himself because he made it all the way to the airport by himself without getting lost! We flew over the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands which were beautiful.
I also got to see Agape’s hanger which was full of supplies to send down. Everyone there was very nice and it was interesting to see how their organization works.
It was really nice to be back in Haiti! The lions were happy to see me and were really silly today. They were running around giving each other and me hugs and kisses and playing tag. Then we all swung on the tire swing for a while. They were so cute, they sang the entire time they were on it. I put one of the alligator boys (around 2 years old) on the tire swing. When he wanted off I set him down and didn't even think about him being dizzy until he fell over. I picked up and he fell right back over again! It was awesome!!
I had some one on one time today with one of the Lion girls. We played with playdoh and she loved it!
So much has happened while I have been gone. They took in two more kids yesterday. One has Hydrochepulus worse than COTP has ever seen before. This is when fluid gets in their head and cant drain and so it swells up huge. Jamie told the mother that we could not care for this boy and that it would be best for him to die in his own home. The mother handed him to someone and ran out the gate before we could stop her, so now we have her son and don’t even know his name. The other little boy we took in is very skinny and malnourished. He was brought in by cousins because his mother is unable to care for him.
Nick and I are covered in mosquito bites. Nick has been swelling up pretty bad form them, and has had to take Benadryl several times. We aren’t on any malaria medicines because we left too quickly and didn’t have time to go to the doctors to get a prescription. We are praying that we don’t get malaria.
Three more kids went home today. They were all going to Canada. We are up to 15 that have left which is awesome!
Love ya all!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Her dad was in the Royal Airforce and was stationed in Kenya for 8 years while she was young. Among many other things, she has also spent 7 years working in orphanages in Romania. It was awesome to hear some of her stories about the kids and relate them to experiences I have had working abroad. She told me about getting arrested for feeding street kids, all the different ways she bribed people to get what she wanted (it’s common in other countries), and different laws she has had to break to protect these children.
The first time she met Mother Teresa she was having a bad day and Mother Teresa gave her some great advice. She passed this advice onto me saying that it would help with my work abroad. She has also told me about some of the crazy stuff her daughter has done like buying a bike and going on a 3 month ride all across Europe or kayaking through Australia.
I found myself saying many times today that I wish she were my age so that I could go on some crazy adventures with her. I hope that when Nick and I are her age we will be as happy about our lives as she is. She has taken advantage of every opportunity that has arisen and has some crazy stories to tell about it. This couple is so spontaneous and still go on amazing trips; they definitely don’t let their age slow them down! We had some great conversations tonight about politics and so many interesting issues. It’s awesome because we all agreed on everything! I’m gonna be kind of sad to leave them tomorrow! She has a lot of great English phrases and keeps calling me Love and Dear! It's great, I've always wanted a cool accent!
Who would have thought that I would randomly be put with such cool people. I can’t believe how much I have grown recently. If 2 years ago you asked me to spend the night at some random persons house that I never knew on the other side of the country, I would have freaked out. I wasn’t even the slightest bit nervous today and am doing way more than I ever would have in the past. I have learned that I can’t be afraid of the world and just have to take advantage of whatever comes my way.
I leave tomorrow around 9-9:30. The pilot actually called and talked to me several times today. How often does the pilot call the passengers to make sure they know the flight plan and that they have a place to stay for the night?!?!Hopefully I will be in Haiti by early afternoon, but I am not sure! You can never be sure when it comes to Haiti!
Agape has been amazing and has helped us and our children out so much lately. They legally can’t carry passengers, but they have been transporting us all week. The president told me I have to act like a box though!! (they ship supplies to missions on the ground in haiti). This past week, they have shipped more stuff to Haiti then they had in the previous 12 months, over 120,000 lbs, and the support keeps coming in. I now have a great connection with agape, and this couple wants me to email them directly any time I or COTP needs anything! They are the ones who always bring us our mail and packages, so if you ship anything to us it'll go on one of their flights! All the pilots and planes are donated by volunteers which is amazing! It's a great organization!
Can’t wait to be back in Haiti!
The kids are doing great! They seem to be bonding with their parents and big brother already. They are smiling and laughing more than I have seen either of them do. Their big brother keeps giving them hugs and kisses. It's so cute! The little boy that I brought is already copying everything his brother does and says. Hopefully this will help him learn english quicker.
The parents know some Creole and are able to communicate that way. They are great parents and super nice. Their son that they got 7 months ago is way ahead of where most 3 year olds are and you can't even tell any sign that he was adopted. He is so smart and happy! This is a great family and I am so glad I could be apart of uniting them!
I just talked to one of the Agape pilots and they are going to come pick me up in Sarasota at some time today and they have a place for me to stay in Venice tonight. I have to be at the Venice airport tomorrow at 9am and we will leave for Cap sometime around then! Hopefully I am on a jet this time so that it will go a lot faster then the plane I was on last night.
Monday, January 25, 2010
When I walked off the plane, the adoptive parents were there waiting for us, along with about 8 news stations all filming us. We have been sitting in immigrations for 5 hours trying to get cleared. The kids that came here yesterday ended up going to a group home and not their adoptive parents. Originally we were told that these two would be going to a group home as well, but now it looks like they will be released to their parents.
The person that I thought I was spending the night with is not here, so I will be staying the night with the adoptive parents in their hotel. I feel bad to crash their first night as a new family, but they are really nice and say it’s ok. They adopted another child from COTP a few months ago and he is doing really great. All three children are seeming to bond and I can tell that these kids will be loved and go far. They are all still wide awake and it’s already after 2 am here. We should be released soon, but we don’t know. There are about 10 staff members here that can’t leave until we get cleared. They all are looking tired but have to stay in case they have to take the kids. We have a shuttle to take us to our hotel room, but I think we are stopping at Wal-Mart first. I am so exhausted.
I talked to the president of Agape Airlines and he said that they have a plane going to Cap tomorrow but he’s not sure if there is room on it or not. I have to call him in the morning to see if I can get out. If not, I’m not sure what I will do. Probably come home, but I think I’ll be paying a lot for airfare. Nick is still in Haiti. I was nervous to leave him there because he was already talking about quitting his job early and staying down. I informed him that he could not do this because he pays the bills and without him I couldn’t afford to live! I don’t make much working 6 hours a week.
Before I left this morning, I had some one-on-one time with a little girl from the bato room (kids that are not quiet walking). Every time she would drop her toy she would say “uh-oh” which was so cute. We aren’t sure where she learned this because we don’t think they say it in Creole. Nick and I also spent some time trying to get another Bato to walk on her own. She took a few steps, but it was more of just falling into our arms than actually walking. She is Nicks favorite and he wants to bring her home!
I was already sad to leave and will miss the kids, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like after a year. I can’t wait to go back.
I have been really enjoying my time here. I can go from welding a stand for some clothes dryers together to washing bottles in less than one minute. There are just so many things that need to get done and it is very nice to feel like I am truley helping!
Thanks everyone for all of your support
Sunday, January 24, 2010
One of the things that I have learned during my time abroad is that you have to be very flexible. This trait has definitely been very important during this trip. I have completely packed and unpacked all of our stuff every single day since I have been here, and we are both still in Haiti.
When we went to bed last night we were told that both of us were for sure leaving today. Then this morning they said that one of us would leave and the other would stay for sure. At the last minute we were told that Agape was providing an escort and there would be no room for either of us. They were trying to be helpful, but it really made things more difficult for us. Nick and I were already prepared for this, knew all about the meds, paperwork, formulas, etc. And then we had to re-explain it all to people who don’t even know the kids.
We got an email saying that the plane was landing in 1 hour and we needed to get there by that time. With the 45 min drive, this means that we had 15 minutes to wake the kids up from their naps, dress them, do their hair, have them say goodbye to everyone, and leave. I was in the very back of the car with 3 young toddlers, and at one point I was sure that one was going to get sick on my leg. The roads are all dirt and very bumpy.
The kids were so scared and sad to leave that it broke my heart. One little boy that I had already become really close with held on to my legs the entire time and wouldn’t let anyone but me hold him. They all cried when we left them. It was nice because we could walk out on the tarmac and buckle them in. This is such a confusing thing for these kids, so we would have liked them to have a familiar face, but we were just glad that they were able to get home to their families.
While we were at the airport 6 more short term volunteers came in to work at COTP. They ended up having a ton of luggage, so we couldn’t all fit into the car. I told Jamie that if he needed I could stay there until he came back. He said that he had a better idea and then put me and two of our nannies on a moto! Anyone who has been to a 3rd world country knows how crazy the driving can be. Now imagine that you are on a motorcycle with 3 other people and a large duffle bag. We all barely fit but we made it! I had a blast! The only part that was a bummer is that most of the way is dirt roads, so if you pass anyone your eyes get full of dirt. We had no helmets on the prevent dust in our face. The roads are covered in huge pot holes, no that’s an understatement, more like mini lakes, so we often had to get off the bike, walk around the water, and then get back on. We would ride another 50 feet, get off, walk around, and get back on! It was fun though!
While we were at the airport Nick was back at COTP waiting for a Helicopter from the military to bring us some kids that have been in a hospital on a ship. Helicopters were flying by all day but none of them landed in the back field with more babies. Maybe they will fly them in tomorrow. While he was out in the field waving a red blanket around one of the neighbors started yelling at him, Nick told the man that he didn’t speak Creole, however he just continued to speak more Creole and do more crazy gestures. He figured that he was upset that we were trying to land a helicopter in the back field. After we got someone else to translate we figured out that he just wants us to trim some branches on a tree that leans over his property because sticks keep falling on his garden!
I was just told that I am “for sure” leaving tomorrow on a small plane with two of our kids! We’ll see if this happens or not! We have clearance for them to go as well as a flight, so it could be a real possibility unless they provide a chaperone for them!
Yesterday I took the lions to school and they absolutely loved it! When I told we were going, they all jumped up and down and shouted, then sprinted across the yard to school. They sang songs and played with all the toys! I didn’t do much educational stuff because I was trying to get a feel for it, but they still loved it! Since then they all ask me, “Nikki, lekol (school) tomorrow?” I have to tell them maybe because I never know if I’ll be here tomorrow or not and I don’t want to get their hopes up!
I feel like today I finally started to get attached to the kids and have a good feel for how things run around here. Tonight while Nick and I were brushing the kids teeth, I picked up to infants and told Nick that I had my luggage and was ready to go. He responded with “you get 50 lbs, you might as well get your money worth.” If that’s the case, then we can bring several of these guys home! Good thing all but 3 of these kids have families (either biological or adoptive) because I might be tempted to kidnap one or more!
It was nice to spend some time alone with two of the nannies today because it really forced me to work on my Creole. Tennessee, one of the nannies speaks some English and together we can speak Crenglish and get by pretty well, with lots of hand motions thrown in of course. She helps me with depot, sorting the clothes, everyday and is so sweet!
Looks like either Nick or I will be taking between 5-7 kids to the US today. We will be on an agape flight (missionary flight) from Cap to Sarasota Florida. We are not positive which one of us will be going today. One of the children leaving has cebral palsyi and is much to big for me to carry. If one of the pilots is willing to carry the child through immigration then I will go with the children today. If that is not a possibility then Nick will be the one to go! Hopefully who ever is left will be able to get on a flight out tomorrow with more kids. We won't know for sure who is going until we actually board the plane.
We have already seperated our passports so that one of us doesn't leave with them both! The problem is that our clothes are packed into one bag, so we aren't sure how we are going to handle that.
Pray for us as this is going to be a lot of work. We are going to have 5-7 kids who are terrified on a plane, possibly having motion sickness, and upset because they have no idea what is going on. We will have to carry our bag as well as 5-7 diaper bags, each kids individual files for getting through customs, a set of files to leave with custums, etc. On top of this, two kids have cebral palsy and can't walk, a third is is still an infant and needs carried, three are just barely walking, and the last one loves to run! These kids know some english, but I will definately have trouble communicating with them. We will also be in charge of handing out all meds to each kid. Each one is on a different type of formula and we will have to make sure that they get the right stuff. Each one wears different sizes of diapers. One is just barely potty trained, but still has accidents. Hopefully all of our paperwork at immigration will be in order and we can get right through without any problem, other wise we might be held up for a while.
We have a contact in Florida that will be picking us up with a bus and letting us stay at their house until adoptive parents arrive! Who ever leaves today will try to post a blog once in Florida to update you on whats going on. That is if they get a chance with all the chaos of the kids!! Agape is willing to make as many trips as possible over the next few days to get all of our kids out of Haiti. If this is the case then we might be able to come back to Haiti and leave when we were normally booked. If not, we might come home early!
Jenny just got an email and a helicopter is flying from injured children to us from Port today. We aren't sure when they will come, how many there will be, what types of injuries, etc. We just heard a helicopter fly over and hope that it's not them because we are not at the airport to pick them up. We also aren't sure if they are coming to the airport or landing in our field! So much is up in the air right now.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Today was hectic. We had 2 short term volunteers leave with one of our sick babies who was issued a medical visa. At the last minute we received an email saying that 2 more kids were cleared and could go. Nick and one of the nannies hopped in the truck and rushed there to drop them off. During the time he was gone we also heard that there was an open seat on another flight for the guy from Bellingham who was here picking up his son. The two of them hired someone on a motorcycle to take them and their bags to the airport.
Then we received a response that 14 of our kids who are in the process of being adoption were cleared to leave, and there was a plane willing to take them out in an hour. So we were running around like mad trying to get bags packed, med ready, and files copied. I was in charge of the files. Mind you, I don’t know anything about adoption files, terminology, and I defiantly can’t read Creole yet, but I was in charge of getting together all the important papers for each kid to go through customs.
Next Jenny tells me that Nick and I are going to be guardians of these kids and that we are going to fly them out and go through customs with them. She said she hoped we should be able to get back by Sunday by hoping on another flight, but I should pack our bag in case we couldn’t. I made 2 piles of stuff, one to stay and another to go, ripped the sheets off the bed, took down the mosquito net, etc. Nick gets back and I informed him of our immediate departure. Then apparently the senator who cleared the kids to go wouldn’t send down the appropriate paperwork, so the flight was off.
There is still a chance that we might get out tomorrow. The pilots of Agape (a volunteer airline that provides aid to Haiti) decided to spend the night with us in case they get cleared by tomorrow so that they can fly us out. If this happens, Nick and I will be flying to Venice Florida to escort the kids. Nothing is final, but we may be in a hotel with some of them until their adoptive parents are able to get there. If possible we will come back on another flight for the rest of the week, if not we will just come home! We really hope to make it back to Haiti if at all possible, but nothing is ever for certain.
Every night before bed I am in charge of feeding one of our special needs boys a can of pediasure. I take him into the pharmacy for some special one on one time. He has a tube in his stomach to help him eat. I have to use a syringe to feed him. I always make a mess, but it’s fun. He has the biggest smile. The first time I went into the pharmacy there was a rat and a mouse in there. Nick helps me most nights which is good because the boy is heavy and it’s easier for Nick to carry him. He has Cebral Palsyi.
Nick and I also brush all of the kids’ teeth twice a day which is cute! I was going to take the Lion’s (oldest kids) to preschool today, but with all the drama I ran out of time. I feel bad cause I promised them and one boy was really upset. I told him I would do my best to have it tomorrow. They are so hungry for education!
Overall today was a good day! We were able to get 4 kids out, which is awesome. One was adopted, and the others will have surgery for club feet, colostomy, and a giant fluid filled growth on the back of his head. We didn’t even have any of the correct paperwork to get them to leave. One baby didn’t have a birth certificate. We had to sneak one on the plane basically, but if we didn’t he might not have lived much longer!!
Nick has been really busy cleaning the shop and fixing various things around here. I asked him if he had anything that he wanted to add and he said no. We both had a blast playing with the kids on the playground last night.
Pase bon nwi (good night)