Sunday, March 10, 2013


City of Jacmel
Our last day of our trip. Marg and I cross the mountains to go to Jacmel, a beautiful old city by the sea. Marg’s agency is completing several adoption cases handed to them by their Central Authority when another adoption agency shut down.

We arrive in time for the end of church services. A young woman greets us in such fluent English that I ask her if she has ever studied in the United States. She stammers, laughs, and denies having left Haiti. The music in the main room is exquisite – a small band comprised of teens who live here accompany the children and teenagers singing passionate hymns in rich, glorious harmony. Haitian church leaves every church, temple, or other place of worship I’ve visited in the United States cold. These children are on fire with passion for the words they sing. Eyes closed, hands lifted they worship God with a devotion and adoration that denies all suffering and celebrates the gifts that they do have. Marg is just as touched as I am.

The young woman who welcomed us gives a short sermon written for young children about leadership, and how we set an example to others all the time even when we fail to act when we should. It speaks to me, as I often wish I could do much less of the advocacy work that I do. It is hard. But it is necessary, and it would seem that I was the one picked to do it. At least for now. We have a motto in our family: “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.” I must keep reciting that to myself as I wish for a simpler life in which my mistakes are less costly to others.

The church gathering breaks up. We are examined with mild curiosity before the children scatter to more interesting pursuits. We are give the grand tour. This is a very nice facility, with plenty of space and even open land around the buildings. The kids go outside the complex to go to school every day. Our guide explains that the birth families are only permitted to visit three times per year. However, in this orphanage, a lot of thought has been given to an exit strategy for each child. The teenagers are conscientiously being trained in useful, marketable skills. I’m shown tile laid by one young man who is almost finished with his apprenticeship. Some of the girls sew beautiful bags and make uniforms for their orphanage siblings. Uniform sewing is a much needed skill in Haiti. One ‘graduate’ is currently in medical school in the Dominican Republic!

Project House Above Jacmel
I’d still rather see a model where these kids went home on weekends and holidays, but at least I can see that they’ll have a future.

Jacmel is one of those places where we can see what a paradise Haiti could be. On the way home, we ask our driver to take us someplace for lunch. He asks if we want to get ‘little food’ or a ‘big lunch’. I tell him I’d like Marg to really enjoy her meal and that I want to be very sure that the food is safe. He knows just where to take us.

We have lunch on a hotel terrace overlooking the glittering turquoise Caribbean sea. The breeze is mild, the temperature perfect. Between the waves and the wind and all of the good food, I can hardly stay conscious. Give me a hammock and I’ll be set for the afternoon! But tomorrow we must fly home, so reluctantly we bid farewell to a paradise to rival any in the islands. This interlude was a glimpse of what we can all hope for Haiti.

The View From the Hotel Terrace

1 comment:

  1. Each year, our surgical team comes to Jacmel and I am struck by the differences there from PAP and again from the differences in the mountains above Leogane, in Fondwa, where my son lives. There is so much to do and so many lovely people to help.