Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Family Affected By the Earth Quake

Last December I was introduced to a man and his severely malnourished 8 month pregnant wife.  They were sitting in our pharmacy talking to Amy, telling her their story.  When I first met them, I had no idea how much they would touch my life or the fact that we would go on to build a good relationship.  Over the past several months, I have learned a lot about this family's story and how the earth quake completely changed their lives.

On January 12, 2010, Vilbrim and his whole family were outside of their house on the street when the earth quake struck.  Their house didn't collapse, but the house next to theirs was taller and fell on top of their home.  Luckily his entire family was outside, so they were all fine, but there were dead bodies all over the street.  His second oldest son now twitches constantly and can't focus in school or when he's being talked to.  His second youngest son is 3 and still doesn't talk.  We believe that both of these are from the trauma that they faced as a result to the earth quake.  I can't imagine what this family saw and went through in the hours after the quake.

About 30 mins after the quake struck, Vilbrim went to his work, (he's a welder) and one of the machines exploded on him.  For 8 days he stayed in Port au Prince in misery, burns covering most of his body.  Finally he was transported up to Cap Haitien where he was treated in a stadium full of visiting doctors.  It was a painful 20 days that he stayed there as they kept giving him shot after shot and trying to help him.  Vilbrim has scars all over his arms, legs, and chest.

After being discharged from the make shift hospital, he relocated his family to Cap Haitien as they had nothing left in Port au Prince; no home, no job, no friends, no family.  Since then he has been living with random people for as long as they will allow.  He stayed with one family for 3 months, another for 9, and another for an additional 3.  But they always end up kicking him out and he's left on the street trying to take care of his wife and 8 children with out a job.

Vilbrim has been back to his neighborhood in Port au Prince several times and never has he recognized a single person.  They are all either dead or displaced.  He often travels between Cap and Port, hoping to find a job welding in one of the two areas.

My Cousin Kayla Vilbrims Wife and 6 of the 8 kids at their home.
Shortly after I first met him, Amy told me that Vilbrim wanted to put his 6 oldest kids in school, but didn't have the money.  About a week after I heard this someone sent me an email saying that they had just put money in my account and they wanted me to use to help someone in the community.  The amount almost covered the entire years expenses for the 6 to attend school.  With Vilbrim on the back of his Moto, he and Nick went together and enrolled his oldest 6 kids in school.

A month went by and we didn't hear from this family again, until he and his wife were sitting at our gate one day holding their 8th child, little Elie.  They told me that she was unable to breastfeed and that they were afraid if we didn't help him he would die.  They had a doctors note saying that she in fact could not breast feed and that they had been giving him sugar water since he was born since that's all they could afford.  Honestly, I didn't need a note, I could tell just by looking at her that she could not provide her child with the nutrients he needed.  She's so thin, her eyes sunk in, teeth rotting.  She looks very malnourished.

We were able to enroll this family into the formula program, and so every other week I am able to see them and check in on how their littlest one is doing.  Each visit I got to know them a little better and fell a little more in love with this family.

In February we had a family friend give us a little more money and asked us to use it for people who came to the gate.  My first thought originally went straight to this family that I knew was struggling.  We bought 50lbs of rice and 50lbs of beans and each time they came for formula I was able to give them a gallon sized zip lock bag of each for them to take home.  It was only enough food to feed them for about 4 days, but at least I knew every other week that they were getting some nutrition.

Through talking with this family, I learned that their second youngest, David who's 3, was malnourished and that his hair was turning orange (which is a sign of malnutrition).  We told him to come with his son so that we could examine him.  A few weeks before this a visiting team gave us some protein gels to hand out.  Our nurse felt that David would benefit from these gels, so he started coming every other week with his little brother and we weighed him and kept track of his development.

The more I got to know this family, the more my heart went out to them.  I learned that they were getting kicked out of the house that they had been in for a few months and would soon be living on the streets.  I so badly wanted to help this family, but there was nothing I could do for them personally.  Once again God provided for this family and we were given enough money from a family member to pay for a years rent for them.  In Haiti rent is paid a year at a time.

Recently Vilbrim invited us over to see his new home.  During my visit I was once again struck with the fact that many Haitians have absolutely nothing.  As I walked into their home, I started thinking about all the things that this family doesn't have.

They have no bed.  Instead, they have a blanket that they lay down on top of their cement floor, and all ten of them sleep together on that.
Elie and David taking a nap

The have one barrel that they use to collect rain water which they treat and use for cooking, washing clothes, and bathing.  Their only "Bathroom" is the gap between their house and the wall.  They have no soap to wash with and all of their bodies are covered in scabies.  Not because they are unclean people, but because they don't have the resources.

Their 8 kids range in age from 16 to 6 months.  They don't have a single toy to share between them.
Peaking outside the gate to their home.
They have no utensils or plates.  The item that they are using as a door stop is their stove that they cook on.

They don't have electricity or running water.  The light hanging from the ceiling doesn't work.  They have one tiny window and their house is miserably hot.

If you look outside their front door, you see stagnate water, full of mosquitoes and other bugs.  Piles of trash cover the whole area.

Path to their house

They have nothing.

But yet they have everything.

They have each other, their entire family, which is something that many people lost in the Earth Quake.  Yes they may sleep on the floor, but at least it's concrete.  I have visited several homes where people are sleeping on mud floors because their roofs leak.  The house Vilbrim is renting has a cement house which doesn't leak.  And the kids are going to school and have a house to live in.  These things are huge.  They could be living in a tent in Port, or on the streets here, but thankfully they don't because others have been touched by their story.  It's me who has a problem with their situation, not them.  They are happy and relatively healthy.

I was amazed while I was at their house that every one of their children had a giant smile on their faces.  Every time I have seen this family, they are always happy, in a good mood, and loving life.  So thankful for the little can of formula we provide them.  They have told me many times that if it wasn't for COTP's help through the formula program, Elie probably would have died.  And it's true, he probably would have.

Vilbrim tells me all the time "I don't want to ask you to put my kids in school or to help me with a house.  I don't want to ask you for these things.  I want to work, to provide for my family myself.  But I can't find any work."  He then points to the bars we have on our windows and says "I can do that.  I can weld so many things.  Please if you have any work, I would love to do it."

Recently we did have some medal work that we needed done and were going to have to contract out for.  We needed a new gate built for our back property.  Part of the deal with paying for Vilbrims house was that he had to build us this gate in return.  He was so beyond happy to do this and thanked us many times for the opportunity.  I was very happy to not just give him the money, but help him keep his self respect by working for it.  I could tell that he was itching to get back to work.

So every day for about a week Vilbrim and his oldest son Junior came to COTP to build this gate.  Junior wants to be a welder when he is older and was excited that he had the opportunity to learn from his father and help him on this project.  We were blown away by Vilbrims skill.

We only wanted a simple gate, but it's Haitian way to make things fancy if you have the skills, so we ended up with a beautiful gate!  It looks amazing, and both Vilbrim and Junior were so proud of their work.  They asked me to take their pictures in front of it many times!

This family has so much potential.  Vilbrim is still confident that he will eventually be able to find a job to support his family.  I'm hoping we have given him enough of a jump start that he will be able to.  The family that supports his six oldest in school has agreed to do so again next year, which is amazing.  Junior hopes to go to Professional school to learn to weld so that he can hopefully find a job and help support his family as well.  I have confidence that these children will go far in life and help make a change in the world that they live in.  They are all so sweet and happy all the time!  They are amazing and have been a huge inspiration to me.

Elie is about to graduate from the formula program.  I am worried about how this family will be able to take care of the nutritional needs of yet another mouth.  But God has shown me that he will take care of this family.  Haitians are strong and preserver through the toughest times.  I know they will do well because they love each other and have a great relationship with the Lord.

I'm telling you the story of this family not to ask for help, or for you to pity them, but to show you the fate that many people face in Haiti.  To show how the earth quake affected them.  To show that they aren't lazy or unskilled.  That they want to work, that they would prefer to take care of their families themselves rather than accepting handouts, but the fact is, there isn't work available.  They can search high and low and not find any way to make money.  I also tell this story to share with you the different type of situations we are faced with everyday.  There are thousands of Vilbrims out there, fighting to provide for their families.

Please pray for this family and that they are successful in life.  Please pray for their health and that Vilbrim is able to find a job to take care of his family.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


Sorry that I've been MIA for a while.

I am officially back in Haiti after my two week visit in the States.  Since getting back I have been very busy cleaning my house, catching up on all the work I didn't do while I was gone, and spending time with my Family who I dearly missed!

First, a quick Eventz update!

Before I left I lectured both him and Nick stating that he was not to learn any new tricks or start walking anymore while I was gone.  They both listened and he stayed at the same level he was at when I left.  Two days after I got back however, Eventz started walking like crazy.  He still crawls occasionally, but prefers to walk.  He often will make laps around the couch or table, just because he can.  He always does so with a smile on his face!  He is super cute when he walks, and is pretty fast too.  I saw him almost running once!  And now the real work begins!

When I first got back he either didn't remember me or was mad at me for leaving him.  He refused to look me in the eye and turned his head every time I talked to him.  He would not give me a hug and didn't want anything to do with me.  After a few hours he loosened up and started playing with me.  My absence has definitely affected him a little, but not severely, which I am so thankful of.  I was really worried about what it would do to his bonding!  His daddy did a great job of taking care of him while I was gone and they seem even more bonded than before!

All of the kids grew a ton while I was gone.  Especially my Mom's little baby that she took care of when she visited.  She gained a ton of weight and I hardly even recognized her!  There were also a few new admits that I had to meet when I got here!  Luckily no one was discharged so I didn't miss saying any good byes although I did miss some birthdays!

And the humidity started while I was gone.  It's back to sweating for a few months.  Definitely didn't miss Haitian Summers.

My cousins Lisa and Kayla arrived in Haiti the same day that I returned, so Nick and I have been busy showing them what we do and they have enjoyed loving on our beautiful babies.  Eventz isn't so fond of them staying in our house and often just glares at them!  Maybe he's mad that they took his room.  He is slowly warming up to them though!

I was able to go visit a family's home who Nick and I have been advocating for recently and I was once again shocked at what I saw.  Every time I enter a Haitian home it brings about all sorts of emotions.  I'll write more on this later.

I enjoyed spending time with my family in the States, but am also very grateful to be back home with my amazing husband and adorable son!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Year Commitment

Nick and I originally committed to serve at Children of the Promise in Haiti for one year.  Before we left we both knew that we probably wouldn’t come home after only a year, but would likely stay for two to three years.  
A year ago today we arrived in Haiti.  Our futures were very unsure.  We didn’t really know what our roles would be at COTP or how we would fit in there.  Originally Nick thought he was going to be working on all of the maintenance there.  We had no idea what this year would bring.  We had no idea that we would become parents to the most amazing little kid in the world.  We had no idea that we would become the field directors of COTP.
This past year has been the hardest, most challenging year of both of our lives, and by far the hardest year on our marriage.  Even with these challenges, this year has brought more blessings to our lives than ever before.  We have loved every minute of our time in Haiti.
Almost two weeks ago I made an unexpected trip back to the States to visit my Grandpa who is sick.  Right before I left I went out to the baby house to say good bye to everyone.  As I walked into the baby house, one of our two year old little boys greeted me at the gate.  As he said my name a smile went across his face.  The second I saw him I became incredibly sad.  This little boy is nearing the end of his adoption process.  I bent down, gave him a hug, and with tears in my eyes asked Nick what I would do if he went home before I got back.  Nick assured me that he would still be there when I got back.  
I went around the baby house and gave all the kids a kiss and a hug and said goodbye to the nannies.  As I was in the Zandolit room, I saw another little boy who broke my heart again.  This little guy is going to the States fairly soon on a Med Visa for surgery.  Again I was worried about whether or not I would see my sweet precious little boy again.
And then it hit me.  My year was almost up.  Had we not decided to stay longer, I would have been having these emotions about each and everyone of our 45 kids AND all of the nannies.  Technically I should have been saying goodbye to them for good, never to see them again.  I can’t imagine what that would be like.  It’s been hard enough to be away from everyone for 2 weeks, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I never got to see anyone of them again.  Today I was with another baby, and I couldn’t help but speak Creole to him.  Haiti and babies just go together now and I can’t seperate the two.  Haiti is just such a big part of our lives.
A year later, Nick and I are in a completely different spot than we were when we first moved to Haiti.  We have more responsibility then we know what to do with.  Not only do we have our sons life in our hands, but the lives of all of our children, nannies, and community members.  We are constantly faced with life and death decisions.  These things are hard, but we wouldn’t trade them for the world
Our future is still unclear.  Where we will be or what our roles will look like in two, five, or ten years from now, we have no idea.  All we know is that for now, God wants us where we are.  For now were going to continue loving on our 45 babies and enjoying every minute of it.  
As we look ahead to this next year we are expecting it to only get harder and more complicated than the last, but through the tough times, we hope to see God’s path for our lives and his hand in helping the sick and malnourished infants in Northern Haiti.  Each day is a surprise.  We never know what to expect, but at the end of the day, we are happy that we were there.
Thanks to all of those who have supported our work and allowed us the blessing of living at COTP this past year.  We thoroughly enjoy our work and the people we are with and can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.

Monday, June 13, 2011

COTP Needs

It's been brought to my attention lately (actually I've known, but haven't done anything about it) that my COTP Needs list was, well, about a year out dated.  Here's the problem though, our needs change everyday so it's incredibly difficult to have an updated needs list.

For those of you who are interested in sending items to COTP or doing a fundraiser/drive for us; there is now a more updated list on that page.  Almost any baby related items will be helpful for us.  Here is a small list of the common items we need:

-Diapers size premie-3
-Baby Wipes
-Rice Cereal
-Children's Snacks (crackers, garnola bars, etc)
-All types of formula
-Baby Lotion/Shampoo
-Hand Sanitizer and liquid hand soap
-Clorox Wipes

I don't keep the needs list on my blog updated nearly enough.  However I do write a blog for COTP almost every other Tuesday, and I always include a small section with our current needs.  This way you can send items that we are low on!

Even if your not interested in sending items, I still recommend you check out COTP's Blog to keep updated on our children!

Thanks so much to all of you who have sent boxes of supplies down to our babies.  Each Thursday is like Christmas as I inventory all the new supplies and dig through the boxes!  We are incredibly blessed by these donations and be assured that it all gets used!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I've learned...

I was just going through all of my old posts and saw this in my Drafts bin from October.  I thought it was a good way to show the variety of work that we do there.


A few weeks ago Nick wrote a post about the things that he has learned here so far.  He was being very modest as he has learned way more than what he listed.  However, I thought I would add a few of the things that I have learned...

*I've learned all the different types of formula and why/when we would put a certain child on each.  Before moving here I thought the only difference in formula was name brand.  I now know that there is milk based formula, soy formula, lacto free formula (which is still milk based), theres gentelease for fussiness and gas, AR for frequent spit up, theres neosure which is high calorie, and sensitive soy as well as sensitive milk based, theres almentium which is for food allergies and colic, some with iron, some without, and oh so many more.  We use all of these!

*I can sort all these cans of formula into their appropriate bins in the depot, even when the labels are written in all French!

*I've memorized what formula each of our 35 children drink as well as what formula each of the 10 children in our formula program are on.

*I've learned how to pasteurize fresh milk, and I do mean fresh, directly from the cow.  I've also learned how to mix powder milk, which I prefer over the prior because it has way less chunks!

*I've learned to tolerte and even enjoy many foods I used to refuse to eat!

*I've learned over 250 names and faces, many of which are way different than anything I have ever heard of before.  These names include all of the 60+ children who have been in our care since I have been here as well as the names of over 80 people on our staff, members of the community, and all the long and short term volunteers who have come down.

*I've learned how to tell if a child has thrush (white bumps in their mouth that make it hard to drink) and that nystatin can cure not only this but also diaper rash!

* I've learned how to set up a gravity flow feeding system for children who are tube feeding.

*How to flush and IV and have helped (more just kept the child calm) while Amy put one in.

*I've learned that nothing is more frustrating than a malnourished child refusing to eat, but nothing is more rewarding than seeing them finally gain weight!

*I've learned how to calculate a child's tylenol dose based on their weight in Kilograms and have memorized roughly what their dose should be so that I can verify that I calculated it right.

*I now know how many ml are in an oz (30) and how many cups are in a pint (4).  This way when I syringe feed a child, I know how many oz's the have eaten.

*I have memorized the recipe for surum and can now make it from scratch for kids to drink while sick to keep them from getting dehydrated.

*I've learned that a dehydrated child shouldn't drink surum from a bottle and instead needs to get it from a syringe or medicine cup.

*I've learned how difficult it can be to work on scheduling for a staff of 60+ when opening a new room.

*I've learned that self-care time can be extremely difficult to implement into your daily life, but yet is extremely important to sustaining this lifestyle.  Now I just need to get my husband to realize this as well!!

*I've learned what a childs o2 stats should be and can now monitor this when they are connected to an oxygen machine.

*I've become and expert at checking kids temperatures, and now can fairly accurately predict a child's body temperature based on feeling their forehead... "Feels like they are about 99 degrees... (check it) Yup, 99.2!!"

*I've learned what an NG tube is and now can put this in if a child needs one and our nurses aren't there.

*I've learned that death in Haiti is much different than death in the US.  I've learned that when a child dies it can be hard, but we must continue on each day and focus on those we can help.

*I've learned that the face of HIV is precious and that we must do all we can to educate mothers to prevent this disease from spreading.

*I've learned that living in Haiti can be frustrating, rewarding, hard, fun, stressful, and busy; but walking into the baby house and having all the kids so excited to see you makes it all so worth it!

*I've learned that I can do great amounts of work on little to no sleep and that I am much better at dealing with diarrhea and vomiting than I once thought I would be.

*I've learned that my husband is one of the hardest workers I know and that he is very passionate about what he does.  I've learned that absolutely nothing makes me happier than seeing my husband play with kids!  He's going to be an amazing Dad someday, but I already knew that!

*Finally I've learned that in many circumstances all I can do is pray and leave the rest up to God!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Permis de Sejour- Permanent Haitian Residence

Permis De Sejour Part 1

Last Friday Rony came up to our apartment asking for money for various things, as he always does.  He began talking about our Permis de Sejour.  I only half listened because I was tired and didn't feel like trying to translate, and plus I figured he was just going to tell me how Ivange went to pick it up, and surprisingly it wasn't done.  But when he finished talking he gave me a weird look that said "why aren't you happier about this."  He then turned to walk away and I had to ask myself, "did he just say that our card was finished and he was on his way to pick it up?"  But of course, he was on his way down the stairs, and I didn't want to admit that I wasn't paying attention, so I let it go.

Later that day I asked Nick if Rony told him that it was finished and he said it was.  I was absolutely blown away.  They told us it would be done in 3 days, and it was actually done when they said it would be.  I don't think that has ever happened to us before in Haiti and I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that something was actually finished in the time period they said it would be.

So after 7 months of trying, Nick and I are now officially Permanent Haitian Residents!

But the story gets even better! Kind of!

So Rony picked up our Cards from the airport Friday evening on his way home from work and was supposed to bring them to us when he came to work on Monday.  No big deal right, we aren't going to need them.  Well turns out I needed mine because I ended up booking flights Sunday to come back to the States on Monday.  We called Rony and asked him to met us at the airport in the morning with my Permis De Sejour so that I could take it with me.

As Nick and I are standing in line to go through security, Nick remembers that we haven't paid for my ticket to go from Cap to Port and back and needed to bring money to do so.  Whoops!  I forget that things aren't paid for with visa's here and the thought never crossed my mind.  We frantically began calling everyone we know to see if they can ask one of the yard guys to come on a moto with some cash for us to pay for it.  After several failed calls, we had someone on the way to bring us the money, but the problem was they wouldn't make it before my flight left and I had to get on it to make my connecting flights.

We tried to explain to the two ladies at the counter, in Creole of course, that we forgot money, but it was on the way and that Nick wouldn't leave until our friend got there with it, but that I really needed to get on the flight so that I could get back.  Each time we explained it they would say ok and they seemed to be alright with the situation, but they wouldn't give me the ticket.  It wasn't bad Creole, they understood us, but just probably didn't know what to do since they had never been in this situation before.   I'm sure they were thinking, "Dumb Foreigners, who forgets cash?"

Finally about two minutes before the plane was supposed to leave (thats all in perspective since the pilots hadn't shown up yet either) Rony finally showed up with my Permis de Sejour card.  Had we had the money and the plane actually left on time, we would have missed him and I wouldn't have gotten the card.  Anyways he ended up having some money on him and I spared a little bit of the cash I had taken with me, and they finally accepted that and wrote my tickets as long as Nick stayed until the rest came.

So I fly to Port au Prince, and as I'm going through customs, the lady asked me if I had my green card.  With a giant smile on my face I said...

"No, but I have my Permis de Sejour!!"

I couldn't believe it, a few minutes after I received it, I was already using it!  How cool.

The lady was less than amused, simply stamped my passport and handed both back to me.  I definitely thought it was great, but as my grandma would say, "maybe I'm just simple!"

My Mom about cried when I showed her my card.  Nick and I are both very excited to finally be Permanent Haitian Residents and to have this ordeal behind us, for a few months until we go to renew it that is!  TIH

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Worlds Apart

As I sit on the plane flying from Miami to Dallas, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I’m taking an unexpected trip back to the States to visit my Grandpa who we just found out has severe liver cancer.  I found out on Sunday, and flew out first thing Monday Morning.
Today has been hard for me.  I was not ready or prepared to leave my Son for the first time, not to mention the emotions that coming back to the States bring.  I read several other Haitian Missionary’s blogs and always hear them say how it’s so hard to go between the two places.  They often mention that it’s harder to return to the States than it is Haiti.  Last time I came back it wasn’t really an issue.  I have been going on Mission trips since I was twelve, done a lot of research and projects on human rights issues around the world, and have a very realistic view on poverty.  Going between these two worlds has been something I have done a lot.  I have always been able to come back from being abroad with out having any cultural shocks, on either end.  
But today for some reason I’m really struggling.  Maybe it’s all the emotions from leaving my baby for the first time, or the fact that I won’t see my husband or all the people in Haiti that I have grown to love for two weeks.  Maybe part of it is the news of my Grandpas cancer.
Honestly though, I think I am feeling cultural shock for the first time.  Multiple times since I left COTP I have felt like crying.  In the Miami airport, I felt so out of place.   I just sat there in a daze not fully knowing how to handle myself.  In the background was CNN which kept talking repetitively about some politician that sent inappropriate pictures of himself to some lady.  There were more choices of food than I knew what to do with.  I stood in front of the food court and just stared for a while, not sure what to choose.  As I stood there, one of those carts drove by me carrying people who appeared to be to lazy to walk from one gate to the other.  I was surrounded by more technology than I knew what to do with; cell phones, ipods, computers, cameras, tv’s, Kindels, and so much more.
It was frustrating.  I wanted to start screaming and informing people that only two hours away is a complete different world where people are suffering daily.  
Why is CNN not talking about this.  Isn’t it more important to talk about the injustices of this world, the suffering that millions face every day, rather than slamming some politician for inappropriate acts.  People bought the food with out even thinking twice.  I looked at the pizza line, almost $5 for one piece.  Or Chinese food, $9 for a plate.  Seriously?  Again, there are people 2 hours away who take care of their whole family for less than $2 a day, and they were wanting me to pay that much for ONE meal.  That $2 doesn’t just pay for food, but rent, charcoal to cook with, and if they can afford it, schooling, medical help, and clothes.  There was a water dispenser in the food court, and several people filled up their water bottles without thinking about the millions of people a few hours away who have to walk great distances carrying their water, which often isn’t clean; wondering silently if they are getting water with Cholera in it.  Fearing that this water might make their children deathly ill, but having no other option, they bring the water home and give it to their children.
I then think about people that walk hours to come to our facility for help.  We see nine month pregnant ladies walking an hour plus to come to prenatal class.  And Mom’s walking for several hours carrying their new borns to bring them to the formula program.  There’s others who are sick and walk for 3+ hours hoping that we will be able to help pay for their medical care, their kids’ education, or even just be able to give them a little bit of food or work so that their family can eat that day.  They walk because they have no other choice.  They walk in the heat, up and down dusty, bumpy roads, crossing rivers and mud pits.  Some times they have shoes, sometimes they don’t.  They do what they have to to take care of their family.  And then I see people who can’t even walk across the airport.  I have no problem with people with disabilities taking advantage of these accommodations, but people my age who are capable of walking.  It’s ridiculous.  
And technology.  If the people in our area of Haiti had access to even a fraction of the technology that was surrounding me in the airport, their lives would be way different.  The airport had lights about every 3 feet even though it’s walls are all windows and allows in natural light from the outside.  Our village is completely dark at night, no one has electricity or running water.  I would assume most of those people bought these items with out even thinking much about it.  It was something that they “need,” right?
I sat there wondering what has caused me to change.  Wondering how the next two weeks are going to go.  Am I going to fit in here?  Am I going to break down and get frustrated by the way people live here when there are so many people who are suffering there.
How do I explain these two different worlds that I live in.  That are in such contrast of each other.  One where medical care, food, and shelter is available at every turn and one where these things aren’t available anywhere.  One where I grew up, and one where I live now.
How do I explain the fact that I can be down town Cap Haitien or at the local hospital, surrounded by people of another race, who don’t even speak my language, and feel so at home; while I feel so out of place here, surrounded by people and a life that I have known for my whole life.
How do I explain all these thoughts that I am feeling right now.  All of these emotions.  No one here gets it.  No one understands what it’s like to constantly make life and death decisions everyday.  To have to turn people away who you know are desperately in need, praying that you made the right decision, and that your choice won’t lead to them getting sicker, or dying.  But sometimes we do.  Sometimes we hear about those we didn’t help dying and it’s hard.
Although I am very excited to spend time with my family who I haven’t seen in a long time, it’s difficult and painful to be here.  I now have a much clearer perspective on all of the blessings that we have, simply because we were born here and not there.
When I first moved to Haiti, we had a women come to our gate several times complaining of pain in her breasts.  We assume that she has breast cancer, but none of us will ever know, because there aren’t doctors to check for those things there.  She has nothing to take for the pain, and thats why she walked, for who knows how long, to us, to see if we could help her.  To see if we had any medicine to make her better, or if we could help pay for medical expenses.
We have the blessing of knowing what is making my Grandpa so sick.  We have the blessing of knowing ahead of time so that we can say goodbye.  We are blessed by the fact that he has pain medicine that he can take to make the agony go away.  His doctors call his house to check in on him, and are now going to start coming TO him for appointments rather than him having to go to the doctors office.  All these things are huge blessings that millions world wide couldn’t even dream about.
Please pray for my Grandpa’s health and strength for my Grandma and our whole family.  This is a difficult time for all of us as my Grandpa is very well loved.  But while you’re praying for us, please also pray for all of those who aren’t blessed with as much as we are.  Please pray for all of the people who come to our gate on a daily basis in desperate need of assistance.  Pray that we know who to help and when to help them.  And pray that some day, medical care will be available to all world wide.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Permis de Sejour- So Close

We'll we must have gotten all of our paperwork to Port au Prince in time, because about 2 weeks ago I was told that Nick and I had to go to Port to sign for our Permis de Sejour.  Last time we were in Haiti, we asked multiple times if we would have to go back for anything.  Multiple times we were assured that we would not have to come back, we just needed to mail down the last piece of paper and then we would be done with it.  Even with this constant reassural, I still wasn't that shocked when I was told that we had to make yet another trip to Port.

Luckily I was going down to Port anyways with one of our children for some adoption paperwork, so I was just able to do it then.  Nick tagged along as well.  After finishing up the stuff with one of our kids, we were sitting in the car on the side of the road when the guy who has been helping us with this process just walked up and handed us our Premis de Sejour.  They were done, we had them in hand, and we didn't even have to sign anything!  Nick was so excited that he took a picture of them, releived to be done.

But I still kept wondering why we both had to fly down to Port if all they were going to do was hand them over to us.  Couldn't they have handed them over to our guy and he could mail them to us, rather than paying for airfare to get them?

Then we were told that we had to go to the Police station to do some more paper work.  UGH.  We sat in an office at the police station for about 5 mins while some guy filled out random paperwork, and then he told us that we needed to come back in three days for a meeting to finish the rest of it.  Nick and I looked at each other.  The look that we gave each other said, really, do we have to fly back down here in 3 days, can't we just do it all today?  Ivange then asked the guy if he could just represent us since we are from Cap Haitien and the man told him that that would be no problem.   Phew, we don't have to spend several more hundred dollars to get back there.

So we got up, left the office, left the Permis de Sejours, unaware when we would see them again.  We were told that our appointment would be in 3 days and that they would be done after that!  But this is Haiti, so our hopes aren't to high.  Today is the day of our appointment, we'll wait and see if we get a call saying it's finished.

As we sat in the airport for 5.5 hours (we were scheduled for the last flight of the day and were all done with our appointments by 10:30 so we had to wait, and there were no seats available on earlier flights), we met a guy who has helped his friend get his Permis de Sejour, and he said that his was in the police station for several months!  So we'll see what happens.

They are only good for a year and then they expire, so we will have to go through this again soon.  Hopefully the renewal process isn't as difficult.  They issued Nicks in April apparently and mine in May.  That means Nicks is only good for another 10 months and mine for 11!

Got to love Haiti!!