Monday, October 12, 2009

Notre Maison

Every year I vow not to visit Haiti in August (although generally I end having to do so for one reason or another. This year I avoided August and arrived in October to a record breaking heatwave. I’m just not getting used to it, but neither is anyone else. Everyone is complaining about the heat. It’s too hot to eat or sleep. I just don’t know what I would do if we did not have our working inverter so that I can have a fan in my bedroom.

This morning I visited Notre Maison, a small orphanage primarily serving handicapped children. The house is down on the plain, aptly called ‘La Plenn’, behind the airport. I was quite impressed with the care of the children. Keeping children with serious physical and developmental handicaps healthy is not easy even in the States.

These children appeared healthy, and they had the alert and eager look of children who have been loved and played with as a matter of course. Some of them might have a very different future in the US. I was particularly drawn to one bright eyed little girl who does not have the use of her legs, but certainly has the use of her intelligence. In a country where the bright, beautiful, and able-bodied can starve to death while searching for work, without the aid of a place like Notre Maison she wouldn’t have a chance.
I spent a few more hours lounging around the house, watching and playing with the kids, and braiding hair before Franck came to pick me up in the late afternoon to meet with Margarette.
Margarette was tired but invigorated from her trip to Jeremie. The BRESMA foundation has built and inaugurated the first school in Jeremie. Prior to this year, children who wished to attend school had to walk for three hours each way. Read that again – three hours. A six hour walking commute for children, five days per week. Now they won’t have to walk, and those who can’t afford it won’t have to pay either. Free education, uniforms, shoes and a generous meal every day will allow many children who would otherwise have had to be placed for adoption to remain with their birth families.

We went over my case load. This is the most encouraging meeting we’ve had in years. Cases are moving! Nineteen children will be leaving for home shortly, and many more are making steady process. A few remain frustratingly stuck, but we will never give up on a child.

In the evening Jamie and I discussed their plans for their big fundraiser on November 28th. The girls need to raise much of their rent money, and some extra to cover the costs of care for the children they take in before they are matched to a family. I’m hoping to find a way to attend, and maybe even bring some of my own kids to show everyone exactly what we do for kids here at BRESMA.

Tonight was time for phone calls. Parent after parent called in to talk to their older children on the phone. The kids can’t understand much of what their parents say, but they are thrilled to hear their voices. They all have one burning question – when are you coming to see me? My families are always anxious that the children won’t understand why their adoptive families leave them here at the end of a visit. But the kids to understand. We talk to them about it all the time, how the families will come and visit and go away, and finally Manmi Margarette and Manmi Diana will finish their adoption cases and they will be able to go on the airplane. They all know that their families are just as sad as they are that they cannot go home today. The bonds that form between parents and children are worth the pain of parting repeatedly. When at last the children can go, they are not going home with strangers and they have no doubts left that they want to go ‘home’ to the home they have never yet seen.

I’m on my way early tomorrow morning, and I won’t arrive until the wee hours of the 14th. It’s a long day, and I’ll spend it missing all of my kids in both of my homes. I must admit I’m looking forward to air conditioning, and snow, and scheduling my next trip to Haiti.

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