Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A BRESMA Birthday Party

A BRESMA birthday party
What a shocking contrast! Today we had a birthday party for a little boy turning five at BRESMA. His adoptive family is here visiting, so they are sponsoring the party. In a typical miscommunication for Haiti, somehow my staff thought that they wanted to set up the party themselves, while in fact they needed BRESMA to do it for them. Anyway, apparently this all got figured out at about 4:00 pm yesterday, when it came out that nobody had set up anything at all.

This morning we have a cake, party favor bags complete with hats and noiseblowers and toy cars, pixie sticks for everyone, and paper plates, cups, and soda. We're good to go!

The party is in theory going to happen at 10:00 am. Sonia Andre has care of the younger brother of the sibling group of three which includes the birthday boy, and she is taking a day out of her busy schedule to bring him to his big brother's birthday party.

In the background, Margarette and the crew are all business. We were always paranoid, but now, after the earthquake, we're like crazy people. We like to have a full three months worth of supplies laid in at any given time, and today is shopping day. Margarette has bought tons of food (literally) and the guys are unloading it into the reception area of the new building. It is a stupendous amount of food! At the end Rony brings in a sack with one box of cornflakes in it. Margarette cracks up and explains that the lonely box of cornflakes was her 'free gift' for dropping thousands of dollars for this enormous haul. She'll spend the next few hours arranging all of this bounty on the shelves of the depot, and I'll spend the next few months with no worries about my kids. We are prepared for the end of the world. It's already happened once. We know what we up against.

Another major issue is sending Ti Maurice out for gasoline for the microbus. We only have a partial tank, and there is a gas shortage in Haiti. Usually this occurs in January. For two to three weeks, there is no gasoline for sale on this half of the island. Most of my friends believe this occurs because the government pays out Christmas bonuses to all the employees, and then doesn't have enough money to pay the Venezuelan government for the shipment. Naturally they are not going to send it out on credit to Haiti!

All fuel – diesel and gasoline – comes via boat from Venezuela. I imagine the diesel shipment get priority, because Haiti gets electricity from diesel. I'm not talking about the small to midsize generators like we have here at the guesthouse or at BRESMA. These are the generators that provide the city power, which comes (sometimes) through the overhead lines. No diesel, no power.

Anyway, we've heard that the gasoline is almost gone, so we're sending Ti Maurice out to try a few stations and fill up as best he can. But we'll be fine. Our main vehicle – the big van – runs on diesel. This is no accident.

Manmi Fanni and Barbarah enjoying the party
Naturally we don't cut the birthday cake until about 1:00 in the afternoon, but the kids have a great time with star-shaped toy sunglasses and their noisemakers and hats. Wislande starts a Conga line and the kids are dancing and having a terrific time.

It's difficult to wrap my brain around this raucous, joyful party, and know that not far away are children who are dying for just a fraction of this amount of care and food. Literally. But we have to focus on making the care for our children who are waiting to be adopted as good as possible, and gradually helping the rest of Haiti to catch up. We can't spread ourselves any thinner and still give these kids the little joys to which every child is entitled.

Hours later, tired and partially deaf from the noise of 26 children all sugar buzzed on too many pixie sticks, cake, and Coca-Cola, Mansour Masse comes by to be interviewed. Maya needs to get a good general picture of adoptions in Haiti, not just adoptions through my eyes. Mansour is the Country Coordinator for Holt, another Hague accredited adoption agency. Over the years, Mansour and I have worked together on various political and legislative issues both here and in the U.S. He's a great guy. I have to keep laughing because the answers he gives make it look like he and I planned what we were each going to say in advance. All of the competent and ethical creches operate in extremely similar ways. We're pretty much interchangeable, and we all work together for a common goal. I'm told that it is different in other countries, but here in Haiti we're all on the same team fighting overwhelming odds. We have no energy left for infighting.

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