Haiti 2015 - Day 3
Day 3: I actually slept pretty good. We all woke up and had some breakfast. I made some peanut butter toast and ate a fresh banana. The toaster is broken so I had to hold the latch down but it came out perfect. We took our time getting dressed and we hopped on the back of motorcycles 3 deep and went to Rivage Community Church. Gampson was waiting outside for us ready to welcome us all. The children had on their Sunday best and sang us many songs. The community thanked us for coming and before long we all had babies on our laps. Missing my children while I am here is so very hard but snuggling others babies helps tremendously.
After the service we went to Oxanne's house to discuss the needs of the community and the school. Rivage is the poorest part of town because it is by the river, which means when the floods come so do the diseases harbored in the dirty water. The shared with us that school has 95 kids in it this tine last year but the numbers are going down because many of the kids are sick and while this school is unique in that they would let any kids come, with or without shoes and clothes, the kids who don't have clothes and shoes get embarrassed. They shared with us that the number one priority right now is nutrition. Many of the kids are malnourished. They come to school not having had breakfast and no food for lunch, so they simply can not learn. We discussed what it would take to start a nourishment program. Gampson and his mother are so hopeful and have many hopes for their community but no plans on how to get there. The sustainability piece of the school and nourishment program is so concerning. The owner of the land where the school currently sits is wanting it back in the next year. There is not enough space on Oxanne's current lot in Rivage to build a new school and her other lot while large enough is too far away to service the children of Rivage. We asked her to find out if the current landowner of the school property would be willing to sell the land. We shall see.
We got back on the moto's and wen tout to Oxanne's land assess the size and location. She would like to put a cement block fence around the property so she can have some goats and chickens and begin to farm the land without people stealing. She would like to build a guest house and a home for orphans in the community. Not an orphanage like we think of it, this are called Kreshes. Orphanages are homes for children that are not adoptable. Their families may not be able to house or feed them or their parents are deceased but they do not have any paperwork and honestly most older children do not get adopted anyways.
We returned to the house and had a short rest. Then Kelby gave us our first Creole lesson of the week. It was a good refresher and we all did well. We sat in the midwives classroom and practiced basic greetings and vocabulary with one another. Sometimes I laugh thinking here I am in a country with a French based language when I could be somewhere using my Spanish. Maybe overtime I will pick up more Creole. It is a beautiful language but I find it difficult. We had our 2pm meal of rice, beans, onions, salad and fresh mango.
All 6 of our Phoenix crew decided to go to Ezile House and help the nuns with the 3:00 feeding of the malnourished children. We got a ride in the Land Cruiser and my back was thankful. I'm thinking it would have been nice to have a chiropractor on the trip for all the jostling about and heavy lifting. You can take the girl out of the US but apparently you can't take the US out of the girl.
We walked into Ezile house and the staff were cleaning the beds so the older children were lined up in a long hallway. The children were probably 3-7 years old and all 50 of them or so where so very happy to see us. They were literally climbing on us and clinging to our legs for attention. We played with them and sang to them. They loved having us take their pictures and showing it to them. Fatima sang a beautiful song and the kids clapped and laughed. Eventually we made our way into the babies room. They were 6 months to 3 years. It never ceases to amaze me how the children just sit in their little plastic chairs. They are so lethargic they do not get up or play. We each took a baby or two and fed them their porridge. We sang to them. We held them. We loved them.
I have yet to go to Ezile and not cry. It breaks my heart to witness such suffering. How is it possible in this day and age that children could go hungry? The nun from Calcutta in her blue and white Mother Theresa garb has been at Ezile for almost 4 years. She is the most lovely human I have ever met in my life. She was nursing the wounds of a young girl with a severe burn on her entire abdomen and groin. Many children have severe burns due to the cooking on open coals for most families. They play and fall too close to the coals. It happens too frequently. There was a little boy recovering from the measles. Many rashes, bites and scars on these babies. The nun shared with us that she had just lost a baby. He was three months old. The mother died from childbirth complications. The family could not feed the baby. They did their best. They brought the baby to the nourishment center on Friday and yesterday she sent it to the hospital. It was too late. The baby died this morning. That is why I am here. Most childbirth related death is preventable and when a mother dies her baby is ten times more likely to die in the first year.
Everyone was moved by the experience. It was humbling and sad and beautiful. Our driver picked us back up and took us to the market. We bought some Haitian beer and headed home. It is so very hot and humid. We all just rested but could not sleep. We made some scrambled eggs for dinner and sat at the community table and shared more.