March 17. St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. Many people are wearing green, dressing their kids up in clover and leprechaun garb and planning their evenings of drinking green beer. I’ve done that. This St. Patrick’s day is different. It was just another day in Haiti. Not one of us mentioned the fact that it was a so called “holiday” back home. It just didn’t matter. The kids here in Haiti are lucky to be wearing clothes at all, much less a special green shirt, with special bows and special accessories.
I was up earlier than usual this morning, around 5 a.m. I had a very hard time sleeping in Haiti…it is an extremely noisy place to be. Roosters crowing starting in the middle of the night, dogs fighting, loud music from the discos that go all night long, and very loud church services that start late at night and go until all hours of the night. In addition to that I was on my malaria medicine and the main side effect was “sleep disturbances”. Tell me about it!
I am, by nature, a sleeper…so for me to be up this early is unusual for me. It was pretty typical for me while I was in Haiti. I couldn’t believe I was up before Rob who is a huge ball of energy! Rob hops out of bed in the morning raring to go and doesn’t stop all day long. It was exhausting watching him…I wish I had all that energy! His love for Haiti and it’s people shines through every single day. Very inspirational. Anyway….I woke up early and after I was ready for the day I snuck into the boys sleeping quarters and said “Wakey Wakey Sleepyheads!!” It made them giggle. It was going to be a good day, I just knew it.
That morning we went to the hospital to visit and pray with the patients. We had brought about 8 lap quilts from the States that a group of volunteers make and pray over, naming them appropriately “prayer quilts”. We brought them with us to the hospital to hand out to whomever we wished. There weren’t many patients there (a good thing!) so we visited every single one there, and they each got a blanket. I brought my film camera and snapped photos of most of them, which I am sharing below.
This is the Dental Clinic, right across the street from the Hospital. Basically you go there to get your teeth pulled. Sounds fun eh?
One of the waiting/triage rooms of the hospital.
A prayer blanket we gave a sick woman that we had just prayed over.
There were two babies there. Both newborn and sick. Not sure what was wrong with them…this baby did not look too bad.
This next baby looked and acted very sick. It’s coloring was not good and was cool to the touch. When we went back on Monday to visit, they were discharging this baby and we were told it was not doing well, but there was nothing they could do so they were sending them home. Makes you so sad…it could be something very easily treatable here in the States but medical care is so limited in Haiti…this is why the mortality rate of infants and children under the age of 5 is so high.
Laying on the prayer blanket we had just given the mama.
Sweet, sweet baby.
This man was old. Apparently he had anemia. So skinny.
After we were finished we went back to the orphanage for our final day of painting. It was mainly touch up work on the dorms. This photo was actually taken the day before but it’s what we looked like almost every day Tim took our photo. Jeff, Rob, me and Jamie.
It was bath day at the orphanage. When we arrived all the kids were lined up at the pump getting washed and airing dry. Saturday is a day of play and more laid back for everyone….preparing for Sunday which is church day and a day or rest. After the girls had their baths, they all had their hair done. It was an all day event.
I finished all the touching up I could do. Rob, Jeff and Tim went to the schoolhouse to paint the ceilings (way too tall for me to paint!) so I wandered around and ended up sitting on the roots under this big, old tree. Within minutes I had kids all vying for my attention. My hair came out of it’s bun and they were fighting over doing my “blanc” hair. They were running their hands through it, touch my face, patting my hair. If they found a stray strand of my hair they would hold it up to their own head and giggle and say “Blanc, blanc!” There was a little boy who needed some extra love. He crawled in my lap and sat quietly while he sucked his thumb. Tim caught a few photos and I am so thankful to have them.
Jamie joined me when he was finished with the high parts. We just sat there and giggled with the kids. It was lunch time and the other guys came back and hung out for a few.
Then we broke for lunch and went back. This day was by far my favorite day. Showing love and spending time with these beautiful children gave me such a sense of fulfillment like I’ve never experienced before. Love knows no boundaries. There is no language barrier when you’re expressing love and showing God’s love and compassion for one another. It is part of being human, part of the human experience.
Jamie and I were there alone at the orphanage while the other guys finished up at the school. I sat quietly on a bench and gave an 11 month old baby girl, a bottle of water and she fell asleep in my arms. I listened to the chatter of the women and just watched everyone around me. I found myself again under the tree and fell fast in love with a little spitfire named Dahana. I sang “Jesus Loves Me” ”Twinkle Twinkle” “Bicycle Built For Two” “You are My Sunshine” and the Barney song. All the songs I have sung to all of my own children since they were newborns. When I was finished singing a song Dahana would pat herself and say “I sing”. She would sing something in Creole. Sweet music. Then we would again sing “Jesus loves Me”….I sang in English and she sang along with me in Creole. It was amazing. More braiding and combing my hair.
The little spitfire Dahana:
A lot of the older kids were napping or resting by this time and then it was just the little ones mostly running around. Jamie started playing basketball with a girl of 14 who had a serious crush on him. It was amusing. She would wink at him and tell him how beautiful he was. It is still a great source of teasing for him.
I “borrowed” a baby out of one of the dorms, she was just hanging out in a crib so I scooped her up and went outside. She wasn’t too sure of me at all.
A little girl came over to sit with me when she saw me take the photo above. She is the daughter of one of the graduated orphans who lives in town and comes in to work every day. Such a beautiful sweetheart!
I then handed her the camera and she was giddy with excitement. I turned it on auto and this is what she got. When I downloaded them I cracked up….it looks like I photoshopped this boy into the photos. The flash went off when she took these, giving it the look they have, hehehe
I have so many photos of that little guy! He followed me everywhere when I broke out my cameras!
A few more photos from that afternoon.
One of the women sorting and cleaning the rice:
After our day was completed at the orphanage we took a quick drive out into the countryside. I rode on the tailgate with Tim so I could snap some photos. Haiti is so beautiful. Full of green fields and rocky rolling mountains.
What a full day this was!
One quick shot of the kids at the gate at the compound. Love this shot. I’ll share more of these kids on my next blog post. I hope you are enjoying my stories. Please please stop by and let me know you read, leave a comment!