Haiti (Part 2)
The nurses went to an orphanage on Saturday where they cared for about fifty children. The need was overwhelming and they returned completely exhausted. They saw a pair of twins- week old infants that both weighed under six pounds. Their mother had died only two days before and their father put the children in the orphanage until he could care for them- if at all. Many parents will put their children in the orphanage when they cannot provide for them. One family we heard about would rotate their children into and out of the orphanage because they could only feed several at a time. The children they could not feed were put into the orphanage for several weeks, taken out, and their other children were rotated in. It’s such a sad, hopeless situation.
Jan’s orphanage is not like that. Jan has committed to her children and given them a sense of permanency until they reach the age of 18. After that, Jan hopes to keep them on as staff so they will have a job and a family.
On Monday, Haitian Christian Mission visited Christopher’s Hope orphanage with several doctors and interns. All of the children were examined and given appropriate medications. We (I and the nurses) then traveled with them back to Von Parisien to help with the medical team. The doctors told us that they were awakened in the middle of the night when an accident occurred outside of Port-au-Prince. Eight people had died- the rest were brought to HCM for medical attention. The doctors had to sew the ear back onto one girl, set fractured limbs and stitch together punctured skin. They thought one girl had a tree limb stuck in her arm and realized it was her bone coming through the skin. Some of the interns and residence had never seen anything like that and were shaken by the reality of the need. The next day they traveled to an orphanage to care for some children. A woman brought a three-day-old baby to the line and said they could not care for her. The child’s mother had died in childbirth and they could not find a “wet-nurse” for her. She had not eaten anything since her birth. Obviously, the child was undernourished and would die if not cared for. The entire family was crying- knowing they could not care for the little girl. HCM took the girl back with them to Von Parisien.
On Tuesday we traveled an hour and a half to a small village in the mountains. The entire village wanted to be seen by the doctors. They brought their babies- many whom were sick and malnourished. One little boy was starving to death- his mother had died and his father was not feeding him. Although he was almost ten-years-old, he looked like a five-year-old. Another little boy had rickets from calcium deficiency. The children of this town were different from the ones at Jubilee or Lot Bo Kanal. They stood at a distance- wary of the white people. At one point, I sat down on the gravel and held a strand of my hair out to a little girl. She timidly took it and started braiding. All of the other girls started giggling and ran over, grabbing other pieces of my hair. (… and they braid it TIGHT!!! Pain!!!) I sat in the middle of these children- all towering above me- their little faces smiling and laughing. I started singing “Jesus loves me” and they sang along. Then they began singing other beautiful songs in Creole. It was a beautiful moment. I still have the braids in my hair to remind me of them.
There are millions of other things that I could say about Haiti. The ocean is blue, the sky is blue, it never once rained. I never felt fear. I loved the language, I loved the smell. On our way back from Jubilee, Jan pointed out a Voodoo Priestess dressed in her colorful robes. “She looks nice,” I thought- and she did! She was an elderly lady and she smiled when we passed her. She was created by our God. She was created in His image. She needs Jesus- she is simply deceived! The Lord reminded me of my desire to live like Him- to follow in His footsteps and my old admiration of St. Francis of Assisi. I was reminded of my first love. I was reminded of how he kissed the leper and how He gave all of the comforts of heaven to be with us. On several occasions, as we drove through Gonaives, I wanted to leave the white crowd, strip myself of my own whiteness, and walk with them- like them. I realized that this is exactly what Christ desired when He came to be with us. He stripped Himself of His own divinity to walk unnoticed among us.
Haiti- the one place I never wanted to visit.
Haiti- so like the human heart. Full of trash and debris, corruption and defecation. Yet the Lord sees the green, the flowers, the smiling faces, the children’s potential. And despite the dangers, He enters into the mess of our lives. Praise be to God.
If you want to contact the author for more information concerning her amazing experience, you can do so in the following ways:
Britt is a Marriage & Family Therapy Grad Student at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas and a Journal Therapy facilitator. She is a wife, mother, poet, blogger, duck enthusiast, coffee-lover, and social activist – longing to the serve the “least of these” as Christ called the church to do.