Thursday, July 14, 2016

To the Winds

Today we scatter to the winds, all over Haiti.  My three kids and K head North to Cabaret.  GE and her cousin go off with GE’s sisters, who are delightful, classy people.  The apple didn’t fall far from the tree there – GE is just like them.  I always liked that kid…
And we head off to the mountains, three raucous attorney types loose in Haiti!  It will be a miracle if they don’t kick us off the island.  I feel truly blessed to be accompanied not only by Delia Ramsbotham, managing director of Sunrise Family Services, but also by my friend Susan Levin, newly beginning her independent law practice.  I’ve traveled with Delia before and she’s a delightful companion.  This is Susan’s first trip to Haiti.  All of us have a lot of experience in child welfare and a great interest in how the law relates to adoption and immigration.
Our first stop is a brief visit at GLA.  Susan is amused by how we navigate in Haiti, which involves repeatedly calling for directions and asking people in the street about our location and destination.  I’ve been to GLA dozens of times.  I have a good sense of direction.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever find the place on the first try.  Haitian back roads are like a dropped handful of cooked spaghetti, and just about as easy to drive on.  Eventually I recognize where we are and we arrive.  Susan gets her first-ever look at a Haitian orphanage.  I have to explain to her that this is not typical – GLA remains one of the finest child care facilities in Haiti.  In fact, we are introduced to a tiny preemie who was brought here from the hospital for neo-natal intensive care.  GLA is Haiti’s NICU.  Baby and mother will stay here until she’s big enough to go home.  Now, she is under two pounds and as fragile as a breath of air.  I would be terrified to touch her.  Instead we all sanitize our hands and play with other, sturdier babies.  By the time we reach GLA’s roof top play area, it begins to pour.  It’s earlier than usual for rain, but I seem to bring rain with me when I travel.  At least it will cool the air down in Port au Prince.
Outside Rivers of Hope
Our next stop is Rivers of Hope, managed by Mme Rachel Danache.  Rachel looks familiar, but I don’t think we’ve been introduced.  As we talk more, it seems odd that we haven’t.  It turns out that we’ve been at several of the same symposiums, and it’s inevitable that we’ve met at IBESR more than once.  I hand her a business card and she laughs as the light goes on.  “Oh, it’s you,” she laughs, and I don’t know whether to nod or cringe.  It turns out the program coordinator at the agency she has worked with for a long time is a colleague of mine, with whom I have spoken many times.  Haiti is a small world.

Rivers of Hope is a beautiful facility, with ample room outside for the children and a very spacious home for just 30 children.  Another one of the very best there is.  Rachel’s English is superb.  We discuss the various problems of Haiti, but Rachel doesn’t have the answers either.  She agrees that things are definitely getting better as far as adoptions are concerned.  We are seeing movement at last.  She asks how my partner, Margarette Saint Fleur, is getting her Authorizations, as Rachel has really been struggling with IBESR to get her kids out.  I’ll try to put the two of them in touch to see if Margarette has any special tricks.  But I don’t think she does – I think she just goes there and sits all day, every day that they allow visitors, until they get sick of her and give her the documents that she needs to make her go away.  That’s how we do things in Haiti.
In the late afternoon we head back down the mountain, hope renewed after visiting a few children for whom things have gotten better and will continue to get better still.

Inside the House

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