Friday, October 9, 2009

Empathy training

A much slower day today, thank goodness…

In the morning I took pictures at BRESMA II and then went to Jamie’s in the hopes of downloading them to my computer using her card reader. No luck there, which is a real shame. I would have liked to show the pictures and film clips to the kids on a bigger screen.

I spent some time just playing with and observing the kids at Jamie’s House. It’s amazing to see the changes in those who were so sickly when last I was here. A very high staff ratio, rigorous rules and training, and excellent nutrition can work true magic.

In the afternoon we went to the Karibe hotel to meet with the director of a new non-profit. I was told that they were looking for projects to fund, but unfortunately at the moment they are looking for non-profits to buy their products at cost, and then their company will donate into a projects fund. It’s a great idea, and a fantastic deal for non-profits who need to buy t-shirts. Unfortunately what we need is money for the newly arrived medically fragile infants and Jamie’s and the renewal of BRESMA’s women’s literacy, education, micro-grant and empowerment program.

I tried to check my email from the Karibe, but the connection was just terrible. It’s easy to forget that I am still in Haiti when I’m inside the luxurious Karibe, but one really can’t count on electricity, much less internet, when in Haiti.

Two new children whom I brought over here yesterday from BRESMA I are thriving and having great fun at ‘my’ house. It’s nice to have a day with time at home just to be with them kids.
Discipline here is a difficult thing. I’ve done a head count, and we have thirty kids in the house. There are about 8 to 10 adults here at any given time, but many of them have specific duties other than childcare. Someone has to wash the laundry, cook the meals, and clean the house. It’s pretty easy to get away with being destructive or even bullying other kids. The little children have learned that they can stay near a nanny while they are playing with toys to ensure that they get to keep them, but we do have several kids in the house who like to tease on purpose. I’ve been working on that today some. I’ve seen a few instances of bullying or mean teasing, and taken that child (in all cases, one of the older boys) aside, leaned down, and whispered in his ear.

“How do you think xxx feels when you tease him?” I ask.

“Mad,” or, “Sad,” the little perpetrator will answer.

“Yes, you are right. You don’t like it when people tease you and make you sad or mad, do you?” I ask.

Usually I get a bit of embarrassed and regretful headshaking here.

“What do you think you need to say to xxxx?” I ask.

I know those ‘sorrys’ are coming more from embarrassment than from genuine regret, but it’s a good way to demonstrate the behavior I want them to have. I’ve already seen a few boys who were bullies themselves just hours ago telling other kids to be nicer. Too funny!

It’s interesting to see how respect works here too. I’m not quite sure what the difference is, but I’ve never had trouble getting most of the older kids to obey me. The little ones are a different matter. Sometimes I’m about to drown in very hot, small bodies, and I can’t get them up and off for the life of me. Perhaps because I’m not genuinely disappointed in them, and just overheated? But I do know the kids tend to be raucous and wild when missionary trips come to visit. It would help if all of the ‘blan’ would insist on good manners before they handed out treats. I feel sorry for the kids living in the orphanage too, but I feel even sorrier for them when they are learning to behave in ways that will cost them friends when they go home at last.

Tomorrow Jamie and Ali and I will head out to Megamart to buy a few necessities. Manmi Lis asked me for roach poison. This morning, there was a cockroach will over an inch long in my bedroom. So I will certainly be complying with that request!

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