Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Lots of people have been asking us how we are fairing the storm. Hurricane Sandy has passed us by now but we still continue to experience a lot of rain. We will have 1/2 hour breaks in the rain where we think it is done. Then WAM! it hits again. Just lots of rain. So how are we? Bored and a little wet. But other than that fine. Today Ashlee, Chris, and I were able to drive around a bit and check on some friends. Their house, a Samaritan's Purse shelter, stayed amazingly dry. And like us they were just bored. We then headed over to New Horizon's orphanage to see how they were all doing.  They had plenty of food for today and some for tomorrow as well. The only difficulty they were experiencing was trouble keeping their fires lit to keep the food cooking. We were able to encourage Mdm and Pastor Christian, visit with the kids a bit, and survey the water drainage needs for a future team to help with.
Me, loving on some orphans at New Horizons.  Just a wee bit wet.

Water was pooling in a lot of areas but remarkably the dorms stayed dry.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Living Room

My house is starting to feel like a home.  And what helped the most? Color! I love color.  Thank you to Leah Miller for being my personal shopper and doing such a great job. Thanks to Rachel for coordinating, Chuck and Tammy for packing it all up, and Constance Free Church for bringing in our bags.  Here's the living room now.

I have been walking on only rock roads and tiled cement floors for over 2 months now. Simply standing on those small area rugs brings my feet so much pleasure. Feels so much more like home now.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Restavec - A Loaded Word

We  blog quite a bit about the day to day life of our family.  That is so much easier than trying to express in words some of the misery we are encountering here in Haiti.  Before coming to Haiti I knew full well about the abandonment of children that abounds in Haitian culture.  But seeing it first hand is so hard.  So complicating, so multi-dimensional, and ultimately so heartbreaking.

Restavec is a French word, I believe, that literally means "to live with".  In Haiti children who are sent away from their family to live with another family are called restavecs.  Restavecs abound in Haiti, from the rural mountainside, to the suburban areas, to Port au Prince.  Some people regard the restavec phenomenon in Haiti to be modern day slavery.  Some people regard it as benevolent foster care.  The truth probably is both.  Each situation is unique, many awful, many not so awful, but all heartbreaking.

Over the past 11 years of my travels to Haiti I have become friends with a woman in a rural mountainside village.  I love her and her family deeply.  She has 8 children and her family lives on much less than $1/day.  11 years ago it was clear to me that she was feeding her second born son a larger portion than the other children as he showed the most potential for normal growth, intelligence, and possibly making it through school and out of the rural area.  He's 14, bright, energetic, and full of life.  A few months ago the family sent him away from their mountain home to live in a nearby city center with a different family.  The family houses, feeds, and pays the school fees of this youth.  In return he is expected to do all of the cooking, cleaning, and chores for the family.  He is a restavec, he cries for home regularly, his misses his 7 siblings and his parents.  He attends school, he eats, and he has shelter.

7 years ago, he is on the left

7 years ago, in the purple sweater on the chair

I lie awake thinking of him often.  I wonder what I would do if I were in his mother's position.  I will never know because I will never face anything like that, ever.  Modern day child slavery abounds in Haiti.  Is this an example of child slavery?  I have no answers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Day of School

The children got their uniforms Sunday afternoon and posed for a pic.

We were up early Monday morning with excitement and headed off to school at 7:30

Through a grove of banana trees with Eloise leading the way, of course.

Along an irrigation canal....

to the Community School of Bellevue.

There are over 100 children enrolled in the school this year.  However, for various reasons attendance today was only 10.  Chris waited with our kids until others arrived and school commenced around 8:30. The children spent the morning in devotions followed by play time.  Kate made it about one hour, was whimpering, and then saw a familiar face, Maxo.  When she saw Maxo she burst in tears and he offered her a ride home on his moto.  She gladly accepted.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for Kate.  Eloise enjoyed singing during devotion time.  The girls asked her to join in jump roping but she chose just to watch today.  Luke joked with the kids, showed them how to do the moon walk, and arm wrestled.  His comment of the day, "The girls at school are really tall and muscular".  Luke called us around 11:00 and said school was ending soon so we should come pick them up.  Glad we sent along his cellphone.

School here is expensive by Haiti standards.  It cost us approximately $150 USD per child to send our kids to school this year.  For us that isn't much.  But the average wage in our town is around $7.50/day or about $150/month.  So a month's pay per child, that is expensive!  Many Haitians are still attempting to get their children's uniform, school books, supplies, and tuition gathered.  So as the month goes on more and more children will join the school as they are prepared and funded.

Could you imagine paying one month's salary per child to send your children to school?