(UPDATE: the toilet flushes now, you just have to take the lid off the tank and pull the little chain thing up yourself - it got disconnected from the handle and I can't get it back on...)
7:15am - Oh man, I just feel SO much better today! Got a good nights sleep, my bag came so I have my food (so I had my breakfast bar), AND I got a shower!! Ice cold, but hey, I can deal with that. Its going to be a great day! The plan for today is to visit three more orphanages that GOP sponsors right around here. (So many orphans in such a small area - it makes me so sad :( ) One is actually just outside the big cement barrier (I would say fence but its way more than a 'fence' in our standards) and across the road, and two others are within 15 minutes here in Croix des Bouquete. I'm off to breakfast with everyone now - spaghetti! Apparently that's like the normal breakfast here. (I think I'll stick with pb and j!)
|Spaghetti for breakfast, anyone?|
I didn't take my camera with me this to go play this morning because the kids constantly just want pictures. I'd rather play with them or do something rather than just having them make funny faces for the camera or run off with it, only to bring it back full of 75 pictures of cement floors and half-faces! We got to go in the newly opened sewing center, which is actually underneath the church. It employs almost 10 Haitians, and cranks out thousands of school uniforms. I was impressed with how nice the uniforms were, especially for the ancient sewing machines they were using!
After the tour of the sewing center, we just spent more time playing with the kids (cameraless). One of the ladies brought down 100 little white hacky sacks and some fabric markers to decorate them with. The kids ejoyed it for awhile, but then they started coloring on everything (cement, rocks, trees, etc) with the markers. One of the older girls here had on True Religion jeans! Those are like $200 a pair back in the states! They don't mean a thing to her (nothing material really does here), but we all still cringed just a little when she took her fabric marker and started coloring on them. Samson eventually got one of the balls and the chase was on to get it back. I don't think it ever happened, he was too fast and the kids got scared when he growled at them.
We also threw around some frisbees and jumped plenty of rope - that's hard work in this heat! I had to take lots of breaks and just sit down for a minute... The kids eventually discovered that they could rip the hacky sacks open and there was a little bag of tiny green bead like things on the inside. So yea, those didn't last long at all. Pretty soon all the hacky sacks were gone and there were kids trying to eat the little green beads. Sigghh... I sang some songs with Aileen and Sarach (the kids LOVE to sing!), and just enjoyed spending time with these beautiful kids. I'm heading back over there now for some more fun!
12:30pm - I'm taking another water/snack break. We haven't really been doing too much, but its still super hot and I'm tired. I still haven't had my camera out at all today - so proud of myself! ;) One fun thing I did this morning was helping get nuts down from a tree. The kids had long sticks and were jumping and whacking the branches as hard as they could to get them to come down, but it was a struggle. I thought I'd help out by putting a little guy on my shoulders so he could get closer to the tree branches. Well, he ended up covering up my eyes with one hand and whacking the long stick around with the other. He got the nuts down, but I couldn't see anything! I bet it looked quite comical. I finally just took the stick and knocked several down for the kids myself. They chase after them when they hit the ground and then go over and start pounding them with a big rock to break them open. I don't know what kind of nut it is, but it didn't look that great. I passed on trying it out, even though the kids offered.
Other than that, I held a couple kids (Aileen, her brother, and another boy) and just relaxed. I still can't get over how young the kids look here because they've been malnourished. Ellison looks 5 and is 8. 14 year old Clyde is so tiny I would have guessed he was 8... Maybe I already wrote about this, I can't remember. It's all kind of a blur already and I can't always remember what I've typed and what I've just thought, ha.
I actually just left one of my plastic water bottles (that I bought at the airport) over there because one too many snotty nosed kids licked it. I still have my nice one up here and I think I'll just keep away from them. Anyways, I'm just back in my room cooling off now before we walk to one of the close orphanages. I guess we had some transportation issues this morning (ie a tire blow out on the van I think) so that's why we ended up staying here all morning.
2:45pm - We just got back from Calixte orphanage, where there are almost 40 kids. Its just down the road, so we walked. We did have to cross the main road, which took some time to find an opening...then we all ran. There was a tap-tap pulled over to the side of the road right in front of us, and they all cheered and laughed when the big group of white girls ran screaming across the hiway! The country side of Haiti really is beautiful, and we saw lots of animals along the way. Apparently the rule here is if the animal doesn't have a rope on it, you can tie it up and claim it as yours!
The orphanage itself is out in the middle of nowhere and is a very small compound, with two main buildings, a little kitchen area, and two latrines/showers - one for the boys and one for the girls. I can't believe they care for almost 40 kids!! There isn't really any area to play or do anything. I just can not for the life of me imagine growing up that way! There are a lot more little (younger) kids at Calixte - even a couple babies! Its hard to believe there are so many children without any family to care for them in such close proximity.
Once we walked in, we got "picked" again - its basically just one (or two) kids decide you are theirs and they latch on. I got an adorable little boy who would NOT let me put him down. He was pretty big to be carrying around - little monkey!
We really didn't get to spend very much time there because the house mommas started bringing out dinner - at 2 in the afternoon. They eat mid-morning and mid-afternoon and that is IT. No wonder they're all so skinny! We didn't want to interrupt meal time, so we left and started walking back, after snapping a few more cute pictures (of course).
|Erin is holding a sleeping baby - without a diaper on!|
One thing I've discovered about myself on this trip is how much I really just love and adore these kids. I mean I just want to hold and kiss and rock them all day - even the big kids - and it physically makes my heart hurt to have to leave them - not knowing when the next hug and kiss for them will come. :( I've always kind of been "heard hearted hannah" and pretty non-emotional, but I am so passionate about these kids, even though orphan care is certainly not for the faint of heart. It's not always easy, but man, I just truly love these kids.
We're taking a break and re-hydrating back at the inn now, but will probably head out to play with the kids again soon. Its overcast and there is a breeze here today, but the Haitian heat still takes it out of you! (Well, that, and the kids hanging on you and scaling you like a wall!)
6pm - We are done playing with the kids for today and are getting ready to head to dinner. It's really cooling off here, as there is a storm moving in. I had so much fun spending time with all the kids today. We did another activity with the kids this afternoon: we made bracelets (or necklaces or headbands) out of strips of bandanas. We took the fabric and dipped it in water and twisted it really tight, then put a charm on it.
As usual, chaos ensued. Some kids had five charms on one necklace or had three or four headbands on. It's so hard to keep track of who has gotten what when there are 100 kids! "Clyde" gave me a piece of paper that said 'Terri I Love You' on it. He's the one who is 14 but looks 8 or 9. He's always holding my hand! And of course Aileen was glued to me, and I also got Ellison, on top of those two.
|"Clyde" - 14|
|Ellison - 8|
|This was my first attempt, which lasted about 30 seconds. I learned to tie it around his foot and his ankle to keep it on.|
Oh yea, and there is ring worm outbreak here right now. A lot of the kids have it. I've seen it on the kids I'm holding, and I don't really care. I mean, yea, I'm probably going to get it. Three of the people who came down on the last trip got it. Big deal, I'll take care of it when I get home! Head lice in Nicaragua and ringworm in Haiti. Awesome. ;)
Shortly after the incident with Ellison, a little boy was running on the rocky cement and bit it hard and literally skidded across the pavement. He screamed bloody murder. Still to my surprise, no one did much of anything. Some kids gathered around and looked at him, but the house mommas didn't even look up. I went over to try and comfort him, because he was obviously in pain, rolling around face down and screaming. I saw blood on the cement underneath him, so I knew it wasn't all for show this time. A couple other girls seemed to be scared to touch him because he was screaming and thrashing around, so I scooped him up and flipped him over to see how bad it was. His arm bleeding, his poor little face was bleeding, and I honestly didn't care about the blood. It doesn't really phase me I guess. Yea I got some on my arm and on my pants, but this little boy needed comfort! HELLO? (Maybe I should be a nurse after all?) One of the older boys came over and got him semi calmed down and took him to his room. It just amazes me how its almost like no one cares. It kind of shook me up. These kids care for each other and are very tough - MUCH tougher than American kids, that's for sure.
Okay, so the last straw for the day was when I saw a naked little boy with sores all over him, sitting by himself and crying. I mean tears rolling, stark naked. THIS surely will get a house mommas attention, right?? It was such a pitiful sight. :( I went over to the only one I could find, motioned to the boy, tryed to get her to come over to him with me, and nothing. I literally broke down. My heart can only take so much, and to stand there and look at a naked little boy with tears streaming down his dark face and NO ONE doing anything about it - I just couldn't take it! I started tearing up - which doesn't happen to terribly often. The reality check was when instantly a bunch of little girls were trying to comfort me and figure out what was wrong. These sweet little orphans pulled my sunglasses off my face and wiped my cheek with their dirty little hands. THEY were caring for ME. I can't even begin to put in to words the things I felt in those few minutes, watching him suffer silently, watching him try to walk away from the play area all alone, having little girls hold my hand and pat my back. You know, it's just not fair! Its such an injustice. If he were in the US, he probably wouldn't be in any pain! Someone would do something! There were a million and one thoughts running through my head as the tears flowed. Why?? How can this be happening here? How can I fix it? How can I comfort him when I can't even get close to him?? I got one of the translators and they said he has scabees, no big deal. It sucks, but it goes around, and such is life. Deal with it, suffer, and move on. Life lesson 127 learned in Haiti.
So yea, I had a rough hour or so, but there were good things this afternoon, too! Tyler, Emily's boyfriend, brought a basketball rim down here with him from the US, and he made a backboard out of a piece of wood he found here. He used a rope to hang it around a cement post on the school, and the kids now have a basketball goal! They really liked it, but I don't think it will replace soccer. We played duck duck goose, which eventually turned in to a bunch of kids running around the circle screaming and hitting everyone on the top of the head. Some of the boys played drums on the empty water jugs. They have some serious rhythm and were actually pretty good!
Aileen and Clyde walked me back to the inn this evening. I really hate saying bye, even for the night. I don't know if they understand and they don't know when or if we'll be coming back...
8:45pm - We had dinner, which was more rice and beans, spicy cole slaw, some super-dry chicken, and some really good watermelon. It rained while we ate, so it's pretty cool now. We sat up on the deck and talked for an hour or so, and we're back in our rooms now.
I'm off for another cold shower to wash my hair - for first time since Wednesday morning. Breakfast is at 6am tomorrow, and we're leaving at 6:30am for church in Carrefour, which is on the western edge of Port Au Prince (we're east of the city now), so it should be a long and interesting trip all the way through the city!