Saturday, September 24, 2011

The little Dezoid!

I love when short term volunteers tell me...

-It's so cute that Eventz goes to work with you (this happens often when you live at work)

-He's so serious

-He always just sits on your hip and goes where ever you go!

-He's so well behaved

-He's so mellow

The nannies on the other hand have different ways of describing Eventz.  They call him a dezoid (trouble maker).

Both groups say these things because they don't see both sides of Mr E.  When we are down stairs, his personality is totally different.  He doesn't talk.  He's quite, and fairly well behaved, unless in the baby house that is!  But than we go upstairs and...

When he gets tired of Mommy waiting for dinner to cool, he finds it himself!

Or he sits on the inside of the gate we had built to specifically to keep him off the stairs!

Eventz likes to sit and stand on top of his table!

He also enjoys standing on the couch writing in Daddy's notebook!

Or the challenge of finding ways to play with toys that are put up out of reach!

But amongst the orneriness, there are also other things people don't see!

Like how cute he is when he runs around wearing Daddy's clothes!

Or the look he gives me when he's playing with something he shouldn't be!

And the times when he decides it's much better to take naps with Daddy than by himself!

The kid's got so much energy.  He literally RUNS around our house all day.  Nick and I often just stare at him.  We can't keep up!  He's adventurous and into everything.  If he's not supposed to play with it, he will!  He has a mind of his own!  Boy oh boy do we have our work cut out for us!

We are so blessed to have this little boy and be able to watch him grow and develop!  He truly is by far the best part of our lives!

And yes, after taking each of these pics, I did scold him for crawling on top of things!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Visits

Since I've been at COTP, and I'm sure much longer, we have always talked about needing a social worker to work with our families.  I've felt the weight of this on my shoulders lately, and although I wasn't sure my Creole was good enough, I finally decided I needed to slowly start taking on this responsibility.  We have had 3 of our children who have been reunited pass away recently.  We HATE getting this news.  We also have had many children reunited and then returned here and their families decide that they do in fact want adoption.  In my oppinion, we have WAY to many kids up for adoption.

This is a touchy subject for some.  I believe families are best and every child should be in a biological family if possible.  I feel that I should de everything possible to ensure this to happen.  But when we can't, then yes, adoption is the SECOND best option.  Nick and I are not what's best for Eventz, we are the second best option.  I believe that completely.

Recently I have had the burden of questioning whether or not we are actually placing our kids for adoption as a last result.  I have started to feel that we don't do nearly enough for our children to ensure that they are succesfully reunited with their bio families.  I finally knew it was time for me to step outside of my comfort zone.  I decided I needed to start doing home visits.

I questioned this for a long time.  Did I want to do home visits for my own selfish reasons?  I love getting out, I love seeing new parts of Haiti, I love entering Haitian homes, and I always want to see where our kids live.  I couldn't give you a reason why I felt that I needed to start doing this that wasn't selfish.  I didn't know why it woould be beneficial for our kids or how it would successfully help them stay in their homes.  I thought I would do these visits and leaved depressed, seeing all of the things they don't have and the way our babies, who I love, live.  But I do know I felt I was supposed to start doing this.

My first home visit was to Asmessi's home.  He came to COTP as a new born weighing 3# 3 oz.  His Mom was sick at the time and couldn't care for him.  He stayed here for a few months and gained weight, his father visited often.  He went home and was admitted to the formula program to ensure he had a smooth transition.  He was doing amazing and graduated the prg.  Then this summer he came back a few times and kept looking worse.  His Mom asked if we could take him again.  I really didn't want this because I knew he had an amazing Dad.  I asked if I could go to their home and talk to them more about it there.

I was shocked at what I saw.  They had a play pen for him to sleep in, no other Haitian baby I know has a bed, most sleep on the floor.  They had a whole shelf full of baby products, from lotion, to formula, to vitamin drops.  I saw their whole family and saw that they were all healthy and well taken care of.  From my visit I confirmed that he was getting amazing care and helped me realize that the reason for him loosing weight must be more than lack of food or or anything the family was doing wrong.  He must have something else going on. Because of this knowledge, we were able to help our little Asmessi with out having to separate him from his family yet again.  We were able to provide him with the nutrients he needs, talk to his parents about his health, and empower them to take care of their precious son that they love dearly!

I also did a home visit for our sweet little twins Edly and Ederly.  From this I learned that their Mother has an amazing support system.  She may not have any of her own family to help her with her boys, but she has a whole neighborhood of friends who loves the Ed's dearly and will do all they can to ensure they not only survive but flourish in her care.

I accompanied Fritzlin and his Aunt home which is over an hour away by Moto.  I saw that they live in one of the prettiest areas of Haiti.  I saw that he lives in an amazing home, and learned that his Aunt is an Amazing, strong women.  She not only is the leader in her house but her community.  She is very aware of the needs of infants and is doing an amazing job providing for her nephew.  I have great respect for this women and her willingness to take on the task of raising a child that's not hers.

Of course with all of these positives, there are some hard times as well.  I visited Love Mica's home and left with mixed feelings.  Love Mica came to us after her Mom died of Cholera.  She has since returned to live with her Grandma.  She came back to COTP at one point 4 lbs lighter than she was when she left.  We admitted her to the Formula Prg. to help her gain this weight back.

While at her home, I learned that her extended family is facing many hard circumstances, from other children who have special needs, to a family member having his leg amputated, and more.  Regardless though, her Grandma stands as a strong pillar, fighting to do all she can to take care of her family even though she has no job or source of income.  Times may be tough, but I am confident that Love Mica is right where God wants her to be.  That they will overcome these difficult times and Love Mica will grow up and be as strong as her Grandma and will make a significant change in her community!

I have left all of these homes not feeling depressed and overburdened by the "needs" I have seen.  Instead, I have left feeling encouraged, satisfied, and grateful for the time I have been blessed to spend with these kids.  It's often easy to assume that adoption is the best answer, but it's often not the case.  While on these visits I have seen hope, love, family, and community.  There is so much potential for each of these kids.

You still may be wondering, what have I accomplished by going on these visits.  It sounds like I had a fun time and got a lot out of it, but what have I left behind, or accomplished from this?  This great unknown when I started is quite clear to me now.

Yes when I go on these visits I'm not going to be able to fix or change "problems" that I see.  But what I can offer is a simple reminder that we love their child and will do anything for them.  A reminder to come back and see us or call us if the child is sick.  I may be able to offer little bits of advice; remember if they have diarrhea don't give them formula, just serum.  I'm able to show a little bit of Gods love to them, simply by being there.

Over the course of the next year I plan on taking on more and more of this social worker role.  My goal is to hire a Haitian to do it with me so that she can help me understand the culture and the language.  If/when I eventually leave, she'll be able to fully take over this job on her own.  Together we will work to ensure we are doing all we can to reunite kids with their families and using adoption as a true last result rather than an easy solution.  I plan on changing a few of COTP's small policies which I believe will increase the number of our kids being reunited.  I hope to build strong relationships with all of our bio families and helping to empower them to be able to provide for their kids.  I can see in their eyes how difficult the choice of adoption is for them.  It pains me, I couldn't imagine having to make that choice.  They are strong people, and I want to ensure that I am doing every thing I personally can to keep our babies in their families!  Please pray that this new role of mine will be clear and that I will always be doing God's desire, and not mine!

I'm excited and looking forward to my new role!  I am so blessed to be here and be able to work with these amazing people and children!  I couldn't ask for more!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Friends!

A few weeks ago Nick was sitting at an airport when he received a phone call from some random guy saying he thought we were neighbors and wanting to know if we could meet.

This may sound a little creepy to some of you, but when you live in Haiti, finding other people close by that speak English is few and far between.

Next thing I know Nick pulls through the gate with this couple and starts giving them a tour.  It took me a while to finish the task I was working on, but I eventually made my way over to start talking to them.  They were great and we really liked them, but even though we said we'd get together again, we weren't expecting it to actually happen.  It's just something you say in Haiti, "It was nice to meet you, we should hang out some time." But nobody actually does because we are all too busy.  Nick put their number in our phone under their organization because we couldn't even remember their names when they left.  I know, we are awful, but we have A LOT of people pass through here (126 volunteers this summer)!

These guys were different though!  We actually have seen them again.  We have gotten together with them now a few times, which is amazing.

They even invited us and our crew over to their place for lunch!  This was the first time since being in Haiti that we've been invited anywhere.  Jessica made an amazing lunch and we had a fun time hanging out.

Everything was going well until Eventz found a wet, bright red, paint roller and started painting himself and their patio.  Then Wedly followed with an explosive diaper that got EVERYWHERE and was in need of a bath.

We kind of thought after that lunch date they'd be done with us, realize we come with baggage, and move on!  They must be just as desperate for friends as we are because they've stuck around.

Last week Nick and I needed to go to the DR to buy some supplies so we asked them to go with us.  Brandon was busy that day, but Jessica hopped on the opportunity to have a good lunch and go to what we were promising to be an amazing grocery store (probably not so amazing to any of you reading this, but to us, words can't explain)!

We picked her up and headed to the border which is about 1 hour away.  Our first stop was to buy clothes hangers.  Yes, we have to go to a foreign country for hangers!  That was followed by the hardware store, and then lunch!  It's always so great to get out and have new exciting food, something we took for granted living in the States.

After eating an amazing lunch, we went to the giant (about the size of a gas station for you guys but giant for us) grocery store!  Nick and I always go "a little crazy" when we are there.  We can't help it.  They have canned fruit, juice, boneless skinless chicken, chips, yogurt that actually has to be refrigerated, cheese that doesn't taste like plastic and isn't pre-sliced, and SO MUCH MORE!  We ended up getting 2 grocery carts full of food and snacks!  In our defense, we were buying some stuff for the other staff here, but a lot of it was for us! Now before you judge, the grocery carts are much smaller than you'd have in the States, so we aren't THAT bad!

But Man has it been nice these past few days having Juice!  Normally people come up to eat and we can offer them water or water.  Now we have so many options to choose from and we have been drinking juice with EVERY meal.  It's great!  We miss juice.  We miss drinking varieties and are sick of water!

Jessica did well herself and packed one cart for them.  She was a little jealous that since we knew the layout of the store and there was two of us, I was able to go ahead of her and grab some of the good stuff before she got there.  She has already told me that next time she's throwing punches.  The boys will follow with the carts as we run through the store grabbing stuff as fast and we can, shoving it into our carts!

Jessica, it's on like donkey kong!!

We are so thankful to finally have some friends and have a way to "get away" and not talk or think about work.  When we hang out with them it feels so normal.  Normal doesn't come easy here!  We are so thankful that they contacted us a few weeks ago!  Now we're just hoping we don't scare them away!

Check out their blog

Thanks Jessica for the great pics... yes I stole them from your blog!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Haitian slumber party!

This week we have been working on replacing our floor in the baby house.  This means that Nick and his crew had to rip out a layer of tiles and 1.5 inches of concrete from the entire baby house.  They then mixed and laid 12.5 yards of cement by hand.  It was a long, hard week for them, but thankfully it is all done.  Now we have to wait a month for the cement to fully setup and then we will be painting apoxy on it.  Hopefully our new floor wont hold bacteria as much and there fore will help the overall health of our kids who crawl all over it!

Any ways, the day the concrete was poured no one was allowed into the baby house.  No big deal right, except we had to find somewhere for 51 babies and toddlers to sleep.  The two youngest rooms were put in the dorm style rooms in the volunteer house.  We debated for a while where to put the 3 toddler rooms. I wanted to take them next door to the Manna compound which is another mission.  It was decided that that was to much work and they'd just sleep under the play pavilion.

The nannies were all pretty excited about this and thought it was a good idea.  They brought out all the kids' cots, hung up a ton of mosquito nets, put up tables and mattresses all along the border to keep the kids in, and creatures out, and basically turned the whole area into a fort.  It really was kind of cool!

At least until 1 in the morning when we had a full on rain storm.

Nick and I grabbed our rain jackets and sprinted out there to see how they were doing.  We were pretty drenched by time we crossed the compound.  The nannies cheered as they saw us approaching.  Jenn and Amy came down at the same time.  We decided to put a few of the kids in their apartment and the rest in another room in the volunteer house.

So in the middle of this storm, we transported 30, most of which were sleeping, toddlers from the play pavilion to their new assigned rooms.  We also hauled about 10 twin size mattresses which were excessively heavy due to the rain over to the adoption office to stay for the night.

Of course the nannies, who didn't carry any kids, realized after they got to their new room that they didn't bring any bottles, wipes, diapers, water, formula, etc with them to their new location, even though I asked them before the left the play pavilion if they had every thing.  And of course they remembered each of these things one at a time, so we had to make several trips out in the rain to gather the needed supplies.

It was actually really fun as the six of us ran around, completely drenched in the middle of the night.  Only in Haiti would one have to worry about these things!  And the kids were all so adorable.  The entire floor of the AC room was covered in mattresses and all the Zandolit and Elefant kids were sprawled out on them in every which direction.  I just stood there for a minute looking at the kids and soaking in the moment!  I really do love these guys!

Unfortunately while we were gone Eventz was woke up from some thunder and was screaming.  We brought him in bed with us, and we both laid there for several hours before falling back to sleep!  And then were woke up again bright and early as Eventz was kicking Nick in the face.

Don't worry though, tonight all the kids are warm, dry, and safe inside the baby house AND are enjoying playing on the new floor!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Baby Goats and Kittens

I know I said I would update you when the goats were born but I'm a few weeks late! Theres been a lot going on lately.

Nicks goat gave birth to two adorable babies, one is black and the other is brownish gray. Here are some pictures of the houlagins with when they are two days old!

We also got a baby kitten.  I was in the office at 6 one morning trying to get some work done before the kids woke up. Nick was walking over there but first got interrupted by a few nannies. He talked to them briefly, then sighed, and yelled at me to come over. My heart dropped. I assumed something was wrong.  I asked him what he needed and he informed me he had a kitten for me!  Not quite what I expected.

I'm not sure how our nannies found out, but apparently there was a lady walking in front of our gate with a kitten for sale, and they decided to see if Nick wanted one! Of course we did.

We went outside the gate and there was a lady standing there holding a rice bag over her shoulder. I asked if she had a cat and she opened the bag for me to see. This is the common way to carry kittens in Haiti! This system is almost as good as craigslist, right!?!

I named him Zo which is short for Zoranje, which means orange! I'm super creative I know! The boys absolutely love him. They call him Bo, Go, Do, and pretty much anything but Zo. They often walk around the house calling his name until they find him and then excitedly say "hi Bo!" They even say "come here Go" and "love you Do!" It's pretty cute.

Eventz loves to carry Zo all over the place and isn't super gentle about it. Zo takes the abuse like a champ!  He's a great cat and sleeps with us every night. He loves attention.

When I first got him I was worried about how to raise a cat in Haiti. I mean there aren't any grocery stores with an aisle of various cat food choices. You could search all of Northern Haiti and not find any cat food. I also wasn't sure how I would get him fixed. We know of a few "Veterinarians" but I don't trust any of them to actually know anything about animals.

But so far it's been working out great. Luckily for Zo, not so lucky for my stress levels (JK), Eventz has been deciding to be picky lately and not finishing all of his meals, so Zo often gets left overs. He also gets his fair share of protein by eating all the bugs in the house. Each morning I see him in the corners eating bugs. Last night he ate a giant grass hopper that was in my living room. Who needs fancy kitty chow when you have a ton of bugs crawling around!!

And our friends told us they know of a reliable vet who will be able to fix the cat so he doesn't spray all over the house! They also mentioned that their dog died when they took him there, but seemed fairly confident in his skills! As long as they don't hold any grudges against him, I guess we'll try him out!

Still no baby bunnies. Based on what I've always heard, I would assume we would be up from 5 to about 20 by now, but we are still stuck at 5!

More animal updates later I'm sure!