Saturday, October 1, 2011


There have been many instances since I've moved to Haiti that I have been truly humbled.  I witness something happen and realize what I've taken for granted every day of my life.  Sometimes I just cant believe whats going on.

I often travel to Port au Prince with the biological families of our children for appointments.  It's amazing on these trips what I am able to witness and help with.  So far this has been a first time trip for everyone I have gone with.  None of them have ever done anything like what they will do on this trip.  For me, it doesn't seem out of the ordinary at all until I watch them struggle through little tasks.

I have learned many things to make these trips go smoother.

On the drive to the airport I make sure I ask the family what their birthdays are, and if they don't know it, which most don't, I tell them and inform them that they'll be asked at the counter when we check in.  If they forget there, I answer for them.  Having them know their birthday saves a lot of embarrassment for them.

I have also learned that it's best if I just open and close the car door rather than telling them it is time to get out.  For most this may be the first time they were ever inside a car and they have no idea how to open the door.

I think about cars in the States and how parents have to use child locks on them so that toddlers don't open the door while their parents are driving.  You assume it's something everyone can do, but for those who haven't been in a car everyday of their lives since they came home from the hospital, they may not know how to open them.

I'm going to make the assumption that anyone whose reading this right now thinks that it's annoying when flight attendants stand in the front of the plane and teach everyone how to buckle and unbuckle.  Maybe it's just me, but I always used to make fun of this because I assumed that everyone could figure this out.  But again, for people who have never been in a car or plane before, seat belts are a foreign concept.  I normally end up buckling and unbuckling the person I am traveling with.

On my last trip, I saw the lady I was traveling with holding her ears as we descended.  I had never thought about explaining that when we come down there might be pressure on their ears.  This had to have freaked her out as she probably had no idea what was going on.

And then we get to the embassy.  We walk through a metal detector; talk about foreign; and then into what is most definitely the biggest, nicest building they have ever been in.  A building with drinking fountains, running water, flush toilets, massive amounts of lights, and air conditioning that's a little over the top!  Their heads have to be spinning as they take all this in, as they walk through the court yard in between the buildings and see sprinklers.  In a country with such little easily accessible water, here is a building using water to make it's grass pretty!!

If they have to go to the bathroom, that's a whole new experience in itself.  Can you imagine never seeing a toilet before and then going into a room with multiple stalls.  On one trip I went to the bathroom with someone to make sure they figured it out ok.  When she was done I handed her a disposable bottle of hand soap and she just looked at it.  I had to teach her how to pump it to make soap come out.

This was by far the most humbling thing I have ever seen on one of these trips.

I tell these story not to give off the impression that the people I work with are unintelligent.  Not to make fun of them for not being able to open the car door, buckle themselves, or the knowledge of how to wash their hands.  In fact most of these people are smarter and harder working than any of us could imagine.

I tell these stories because I have realized how BLESSED I am.  I am blessed to know how to open a car door, to know how to buckle myself, and to have the knowledge on how to wash my hands.  I have grown up my whole life having a car.  I had a car of my own since before I was even 16.  I've been on an airplane countless times, all for recreation and going to fun exotic places of course!  As a toddler I'm sure I expressed my desire to be independent and demanded that I put soap on my hands with out the help of my Mom.  I've grown up with the blessing of having flushing toilets in every building I've been in, where theres always soap available, and if there isn't, we complain.

Still I live in Haiti, next to people who don't have these blessings, but I do.  I still have soap in every bathroom that I go to.  I still have flushing toilets in my house (albeit we have to flush one with a zip tie as it's been broke for about a year).  I've grown up having sprinklers not just to water the yard, but to play in, for recreation.  When kids my age were hauling buckets of water for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes, I was playing in gallons of water that I let fall to the ground.  Why?  Because it was fun!  And I'm no different now.  I let Eventz have pool days several days a week even though right outside our gate, people line up to haul the water we provide them.

So the next time you go out to eat and use a public bathroom, make sure you have some patience if they are all out of soap.  Take a second before you complain to your friends about how awful of a place you are at because the soap ran out and realize that your complaining because once in your life, a blessing that you have grown accustom to having isn't available.  A blessing that so many live without every day!

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