Most of the participants are Haitian government officials of one kind or another. We have people from the office of the Mayor of Delmas, the Dean of Port-au-Prince, two of the Children’s Judges, several people from IBESR, Mme. Sawadogo from UNICEF (who is consulting with IBESR on the Hague), the new Consul General, the Vice Consul, the new DOS adoptions officer, and the Chief of USCIS among others. It’s a large meeting of knowledgeable people. I have my usual head-shaking moment, wondering how on earth I ended up where I am, because it’s certainly not what I had in mind or asked for. I guess God puts us where he wants us, and the best we can do is to serve as best we can.
A translator is available to work between French and English, but as Dixie Bickel and I are the only people in the room who do not speak fluent French and we can both limp along based on our knowledge of Kreyol, we agree to go without in the interests of time management.
The discussion is lively, sometimes impassioned, and varied. Because of the composition of the group, much of the conversation centers on the details and execution of Haitian law. I am very interested to hear what is said, but I imagine not many others would be.
It is only after the meeting that Margarette mentions something that Mme. Villedrouin said that is very relevant to everything from here on, which I misunderstood due to my lack of skill in French. I had heard that a crèche director would be on the matching committee. But what she actually said was that the director of the crèche at which the child lives would be a part of the committee that matches him! If this is the case, Haiti will not be using a double blind system after all! One of those making the matches will know the child well and therefore be able to represent his best interests in a way that no stranger ever could.
I’m still not crazy about doing it this way, but if the crèche directors have some control over what becomes of the children they know and love, I can live with that.
I feel like a limp dishrag after the meeting. I have to go back on Monday for another one, just me and some US officials on some difficult cases that I have, but that one should be a lot less stressful and it will be in English which will make things a lot easier.
I had planned to go up to BRESMA this afternoon, but Margarette goes to the office of the Judge for Children to pick up a Proces Verbal for an abandoned child. The mayor of Delmas is a doer. Not only is he paving most of the streets in Delmas, he was the first mayor in Haiti to hustle over to the offices of the Judges for Children to sign relinquishments for the little ones abandoned in his jurisdiction. So I get to witness Margarette adding the final signature to what might be the first completed Proces Verbal for an abandoned child in Haiti. We’ll take it with us to IBESR tomorrow. S. has been at BRESMA for almost two years. She arrived as a malnourished, desperately fragile premature baby, and now she’s a sturdy little chunker. May she say her first words elsewhere.
It has been an exhausting transition for everyone, but I truly believe that we’re getting somewhere at last. Getting some traction and referrals and forward movement. Thank goodness!