Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finally getting to add a small fraction of the pictures that I've been taking. It literally is taking ten minutes to add each one. The selection process is killing me!

Joesphine is the girl on the horse. She's definitely one of the poster children here - and she knows it. When prompted by the phrase, "spoiled," she answers with force, "rotten!" She's brilliant and overflowing with personality. She taught me the names of most of the kids here during my first days and is one of the best English to Kreyol translators in the place.

This is Vivian. She's one of the 4 original children in the home and thrives in her role as mama bear. Takes cosmetology classes and hopes to have a salon here. One of the Cotting teachers brought her a cell phone - she's bearly let go of that or a teen magazine that another teacher brought her. I managed to divert her attention for a bit when I brought out Tantrix. Thanks Jay for your influence. It's slowly catching on here :-)

And then there was the annual beach trip - and my first sun burn of the season! What a day. 6am kids were lined up outside our door chanting "Lame, lame" [interpret as "beach, beach"]. After a quick breakfast of pb& banana sandwiches (my team won the sandwich making race the night before - yes!), we loaded up a van and a bus (a new big white one that the Haitians refer to as Obama buses - new, reliable and good at moving people), secured the wheel chairs with bungees in the isles and headed of Moulin Sur Mar (http://www.moulinsurmer.com/). Three hours, many, many songs - teachers brought guitars and led songs and danced at the front of the bus - and a couple of road sick kids later we arrived!!! 30 kids, as many staff, and a million blow-up toys poured in to the water in one big splash. We frolicked for a couple hours, grazed at a buffet, ignored the silly half hour rule, and returned to the sea. Back on the buses at 5pm, we rolled away exhausted. Another three hours on the bus were filled with many frosted Haitian cookies, kids moving from lap to wheel chair to new lap [repeat], more road sickness and a few tears. I don't know if I've ever slept so well. We were all dragging ourselves around today but the smiles haven't faded!

Glad we had a fairly "normal" day today. Gave me time to prepare my reserves for field day and ice cream party tomorrow!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Full Days

Thursday - taking kids down to Port of Prince for therapeutic horseback riding. The man who owns the facilities had a spinal injury and was told he would never walk again. After a year of therapeutic riding he could. His business caters to teaching wealthy people to ride and caring for their horse so that he can give his time and resources to kids in need. To top it off - he is from the Dominican Republic. The rivalry between the two countries makes his commitment even more unusual.

Friday - 10 teachers, OTs and PTs from The Cotting School (http://www.cotting.org/), a private day school for kids with challenges outside of Boston, arrived and will be here for a week. They've had a partnership with Wings of Hope for over 5 years. Teachers come to Haiti twice a year to help teach the teachers here, and to bring lots of equipment for the kids. The Haitian teachers go up there once a year to continue their training. I've learned a ton from them and am so glad they came during the beginning of my stay here.

Today - Saturday is pretty unstructured. We spent the day playing, playing and more playing. Most of the kids were brought up to the courtyard level. The wheel chair bound kids that wanted out were placed on mats and could roll around and had access to scooters too. I was a bit concerned at first - 30 odd kids playing soccer, playing basket ball, wandering around in their own world, rolling on mats, racing in new wheel chairs, all in a pretty small space. No need for concern. The kids do a better job looking out for each other than we do!

One week complete. I'm still surprised everyday by the kid's intelligence and humor. Given how much I underestimated them, I've been reflecting a lot on other people I've done the same too, and how often I'm on automatic, following stereotypes without question. What a blessing to be here.

Tomorrow - the volunteers and the Cotting folks are headed to St. Joe's for morning service (I'm so excited to see the friends I made there in April!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Sun salutations on the rooftop.

Morning classes.

Ester looking forward to lunch.

My roommate, Esthepania, and Junior displaying a rare smile :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Loving what is...

There are many names for the practice of loving what is - non-judgement, emptiness, acceptance, patience... This my time here, all 72 hours, is helping experience it at new levels. I'm witnessing vulnerability in many forms. The children that fill my day from 8:30-6:45 were born into the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with mental, physical, and/or emotional challenges, and then abandoned by their families. Clique or no, the kids here are truly treasures. I'm delighted over and over by their quick wits, highly developed survival instincts, and willingness to love. The more I spend time with them, the more I want to be with them. (My clothes would probably report otherwise. My current favorite modern invention is the hepatitis shot!)

We've had large groups from the States come though to tour and help feed the kids a meal each day. Malika, Estephania, and I have been very impressed at the show the kids put on when they know visitors are there. Kids who can feed themselves and move their own wheel chairs are suddenly "helpless" with the biggest, beautifulest, brown eyes ever.

The electricity has been on and off all day so I might not get pictures up until tomorrow...
Bon rev zanmi mwen!

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Day of Work

The Sun starts setting earlier here and it's pretty dark about 6:30pm. I loved falling asleep to the sound of rain by 9:30p last night. The dark was punctuated by roosters long before the sun rose at 4:30a this morning. Another reminder that Atlanta is more than just many, many physical miles away.

I rolled out of bed at 5, sent well wishes to Shaywang, my roommate and headed to the roof top for yoga and Tai Chi. I'll send picture soon of my view. Poverty and poor soil management have not completely damaged mother nature's gifts here! Wanting to get some cardio, I started walking up and down the 6 flights of ramps that wander throughout the house. On my third pass, Jacob, the cook extraordinaire asked my why I didn't just go for a run. He laughed at my, "Because I wasn't sure it was safe and wasn't sure who to ask," and laughed again was he said, "don't get lost," and walked away. Um. No worries there. Hard to get lost in a one road town on the side of a mountain.

After eating our own breakfast, we headed down to feed the kids. Porridge made from ground oats, mixed with vitamins and powdered milk is served for both breakfast and dinner. Many of the children can feed themselves, we spend most of our time feeding those who can't. Their challenges range from physical to mental to emotional - and a mix of the three.

I think what surprised me most was the amount of laughter that fills the house. There is so much love here, between and among the staff and the kids, it's infectious. Thank goodness because we worked non-stop until 7pm, ate dinner, and then hung out with a group of guests from the States until way too late...

in Haiti


I got here late last night and will be here for the next 5 weeks. The internet has been touch and go: on when I start composing and off when I try to send. Not that I'm a slow learner or anything...but here's my 4th attempt to send something since I arrived, and I'm finally writing it in first word so that when/if it doesn't go, I don't have to start over, again :-).

Sunday is the off day for volunteers here. I spent it getting to know the other two volunteers, both undergrads from Boston College, learning Kreyol, and playing with and feeding the kids (http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/0908%20Wings%20Kids%20Bios.pdf). Oh, and napping - ahhhh.

It's been raining since I got here and is pretty chilly. Feels funny to leave the heat and humanity of Atlanta to come to the equator to cool down :-)

More info on where I am and what I'm up to can be found at http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/. I'm staying at the Wings of Hope home.
Bonswa mwen zanmi!