Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Learning to Hold a Burger

 7-21-12 I wrote this one month ago on my way home from Haiti:

Juanita Joy and I are in Ft Lauderdale between flights home.  Finally a charging station.   It is a record that we had no power our entire visit to Haiti.  A bit of an inconvenience, but who cares.  The graduation party was inspiring, hope for the future, beautiful, poised, the girls were transformed.  Their brains are developing, being stimulated to stretch, thanks to Mama Gina, their life in the closed compound is expanding.  We felt the promise of their future.  Our Graduates from left to right: Marceline, Fritzchina, Rocheline, Kentyna, Belove

It was an opportunity for all of the girls to show what they are capable of, the possibility of being ambassadors for their country is phenomenal.  They will have the opportunity to give back, bless the world, they could not have done that before they were safe, healthy, loved, and educated.

A visitor at the graduation complimented on how confident and well educated the girls appeared, they looked like they were from a "wealthy family".   That richness is seen for who the child is on the inside, vibrant, inspiring, from a happy family.

We had "Puberty class" focused on the precise knowledge needed to be a confident, clean and comfortable menstruating woman. Wow was that fun, they were so cute and had so many questions. Once again I love having Jean Wesley for our interpreter because they learn they can discuss these important personal maters with a caring and sensitive man.  Thank you so much to Kathy Davidson for making the 6 sets of reusable well designed kits of cloth pads, right for our budget and the environment.  Now we must brace ourselves for a house full of beautiful young girls as their bodies make the transition to womanhood.  Can you imagine the household in 3 years?  Pray for us!!

Our girls speak English, no kidding.  They talk to us, they understand us, they are growing in their ability by leaps and bounds. They are trilingual French, Creole and English.  Spanish is next at the private school the 5 graduates will attend this fall.  Jean Wesley is teaching his way out of a translating job, (that's ok he can direct our vocational school of the future).

After searching for over a year, we are hopeful that we have found a piece of land to build our permanent children's home in Haiti. There is plenty of room for garden, house, school, and playground.   It is in a safe place near the US embassy.  With a little help from our friends we will be able to pay for it!   It will take time and lot's of work to get through the paperwork and details to purchase the land, just know we are working on it one step at a time.

We decided that our graduation present for our 5 graduates was to "take the girls out to eat".  It was the first time in their lives to go to a nice restaurant.  Days in advance we began making napkin rings for the cloth napkins. Then we had manners class with details on use of the napkin, proper conversation, what is a menu, bring your food to your mouth not your mouth to the plate and shovel it in as they have done in the past.  We planned the graduation to inspire the younger girls to desire what the graduates had, so the 5 privileged girls went off with us to a beautiful museum and park next to the embassy.  A nice outdoor restaurant with tablecloths and live Haitian music!   Shyness almost got in the way of making a menu choice,  Juanita Joy took over with all the confidence of a teacher, and they all ended up ordering burgers.  Sounds pretty simple, but surprise surprise when the burgers come, all tall with bun and lettuce, they had no idea what to do with it.  They started to take it apart piece by piece then good ol' Juanita Joy did a demo with her sandwich of the "two hand hold",  and bring to the mouth, they started off slow but soon got the hang of it.  The portion was so much more than they were used to, some asked Mama Lucie if they could wrap their food up to take home to share with their sisters, (warms my heart).

 Juanita Joy brought the makings for pajamas and spent the whole trip measuring, cutting and never got to sew!!!  No power, so much for our hopes of teaching the girls to sew.  It will happen.   Lily introduced the hacky sacks and set up the Internet!!!!!!!  Yes we have a stick thing to plug into the computers and get on line, wow it works off the cell tower so no need for power,  just a charge (entering the modern age).

Love to all of you our loyal supporters.  How amazing that we can feel the joy that our girls are safe, healthy and happy.  Thank you so much.  More to come.  Lynn

Pictures: Cake cutting ceremony for the Graduates,  Family portrait at birthday ceremony for staff Eddie and Mama Gina, Girls presenting a song at the graduation, Juanita Joy surrounded, Lily and Belove out to eat,  Our incredibly beautiful and fabulous graduates, Kentyna,  Marceline, Rocheline, Fritzchina, Belove.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We Have Turned the Corner!

Lily Juanita Joy and I arrived in Haiti on Monday July 15.  There was terrential rain in Miami that followed us to Port au Prince.  At first I was thinking, this road looks a little better, maybe some repair has been going on.  Still the traffic was death defying, then we come to a standstill and our driver starts honking, we finally make it up to the corner to see these big trucks struggling through the new torrent of mud and trash running accross the road and taking the left hand side of the road with it.  I am relieved to say the our driver won my respect by turning around.  We lived to tell the story!

The storm took out the electricity, so we have none to this day.  So much for our sewing projects, JJ's cpap machine, charging our computers and ice!  Thank Niv for the fabulous solar lights from Ikea, we can still do something in the dark.  So I must make this blog very short before this computers gives up on me.

We have turned the corner!!!  Our girls are safe, healthy, and our home here is a happy family.  We have accomplished so much in two years it feels like a miracle.  Thanks to Niv our master teacher and her "teaching the teachers", bringing french books, computers,  and evaluating each girls progress. Thanks to Dr. Macias for doing physicals on the girls and getting reading glasses for the 2 who needed them.  Thanks to all of the volunteers who come each month.  Special loving appreciation to Mama Gina who is our Director par excellance who lives here with the girls and has raised the standards so high that the sky is the limit.

We have come for a graduation party.  Five of our girls have completed elementary school and passed their exams.  They will go to a private school this fall, with uniforms and a new life.  There is so much joy here we are coming apart at the seams!  More later,  Love Lynn

Pictures: Lily likes to sleep on the balcony under the mosquito net (she is actually alive and well), the Mamas making the graduation feast, our 5 graduates at the rehearsal for the ceremony at Marie's orphange down the street, we gave a birthday party and Lily brought capsules that melt to produce a sponge animal the girls were in a frenzy over the big pan of water.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thank You Thank You Thank You

Thank you to every person who has thrown their love and support in this direction, we are “changing the world". Where to begin?

October 29, 2011: El Cardonal, BCS, Mexico. Gran Inaguracion de la Casa Communitaria y Clinica, Tu Hogar en El Cardonal. We realized our 7 year vision for a clinic, emergency shelter, and community building in our small Mexican Village on the Sea of Cortez. The whole community pulled together and we finished the clinic in one week. We had a team of more than 12 volunteers from Ukiah Valley Medical Center, painting, and helping create the parking lot. The Grand Opening Fiesta was a great party, with tons of local culinary delights including fresh fish! Three days later the government doctor came and saw more than 40 patients in one day. The building is so beautiful, it is beyond my wildest dreams. I cried.

November, 2011: Reveil Matinal Orphanage, Port Au Prince, Haiti. Niv spent days with the girls assessing everything and wrote a 17 page report that covers topics from staffing to individual reading and math skills. woo hoo!

December, 2011: Fort Worth, Texas. My loving sister Gail died suddenly of a stoke at age 68. She had depression and was a hoarder. Her mental illness caused her to chose her stuff over family. She did not take care of her diabetes and high blood pressure. My niece Heidi is Gail’s only child. After Christmas we all flew back to Texas and bonded with Heidi’s three teenage girls whom we had never met. It was Wild and Crazy and now I have 4 more girls in my family (and Heidi’s husband Brian). Some tears here too.

December 25, 2011: Reveil Matinal Orphanage, Port Au Prince, Haiti. Our incredible 17 year old volunteer Lily gave 20 had made quilts to our girls for their Christmas. All of the quilts were lovingly made by 2 quilters, Sue and Kathy!

January 14/15, 2012: San Luis Obispo, California. Grand first meeting of the Building Team for the Reveil Matinal Orphanage in Haiti. Dr. Rich Macias, and his wife Yvonne hosted 7 of us from Ukiah and New York. We were introduced to their Seventh Day Adventist Church and met with friends who are interested in helping us build a home for our 20 girls. We have joined forces and Yvonne volunteered to be the project manager. I cried again.

January 23, 2012: Ukiah, California. Today I harvested carrots, broccoli, lettuce, artichokes and eggs between rain showers. Finally we have rain. Finally I have had 2 days in a row on our ranch. Trying to stay calm, I have to make my life ready to devote to our vision for a safe, sustainable home for our soon to be 40 girls in Haiti.

Not to mention my full time job as a Hospitalist PA, my passion for the Palliative Care Team, my 4 grandchildren, my true love Bob.................... Thank You. Lynn

Pictures: Ribbon Cutting at the Clinic/Casa Comunitaria, Patients waiting to be seen by the doctor on first day of the clinic, My Garden Harvest today, Our joyous team in San Luis Obispo.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We are going to Build!!!

The first day I was back at work I cruised through the ER and one of my nurse friends said, “Thank God you are here, we had no idea if you were caught in a hurricane and could not get out of Haiti”. Little did I know that my blog is like a soap opera and I left my followers hanging. The storm lasted about 4 hours and that was it. The next day we drove to the airport before the traffic, the streets were so clean I was amazed. I thought someone finally came and picked up the trash, then Asha pointed out that the rain had just washed it down hill to who knows where.

The night before we left Haiti there was no power so we were packing in the dark. At one point the curious girls are crammed into a ball at our door watching everything we do. Wanting to help in any way they could. At one point they burst into song and I snapped their picture.

There has been a shift in the group attitude of our girls. It is so typical for 12 year old children to change and begin to see themselves as individuals separate from their parents, (teen age angst). Well it can become a mob rule kind of attitude if you have 20 girls living together. The girls sometimes refuse to participate in singing, dancing and group activities. The younger ones follow their example. Our work is going to get harder, we have come just in time to help our lovely children through their transformation to womanhood (HELP!).

Santania and her sister Pierrelande have only been with us for a few months. They have had a very hard life. We had a birthday celebration for Santania, the first time in her 9 years that she has been honored. She sat there in frozen awe. She could not speak or move, a slight grin and otherwise a statue. Wislande broke the ice by getting up to sing her heart out for Santania and the girls joined in.

We are buying the land. The most beautiful land in Haiti, at least to me. We now have an official building fund and I am reaching out to raise $30,000 as soon as possible so we can finalize the purchase. We have to come up with the down payment of $10,000 this week. God help us pace ourselves and see this village built for the girls. Sustainable, affordable, safe, with housing for the staff and a place for our future boys. We are hoping for 30 people (or groups) to donate $1000 each. Of course any amount will be great. The checks will be written to RMOF (Reveil Matinal Orphanage Foundation) and be placed in the separate building fund account. Thank you, Thank you for your support and for reaching out to your communities to find new supporters. Please help us make a lasting difference for children in Haiti. Mail Checks to: RMOF Building Fund c/o Charlucie Jaboin, 131-15 241 St., Rosedale NY 11422.

Remember that we also have teams going to Haiti every month. If you go, brace yourself for an experience that will, “change your life forever... for the better”, a quote from Laura Wedderburn after her first trip to volunteer in Haiti. We need teachers, construction workers, health and social workers, musicians, gardeners, artists, cooks............ we are going to build!!!!!

We have our biggest benefit of the year coming up on October 2. Come celebrate!

Pictures: Girls serenading us as we pack, Santania's first birthday party, Our land!, Asha at the entrance to our land, Taste of Autumn

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Colors that Heal the Soul


Could not make it to the internet cafe today. First there was deafening thunder and lightening, then the girls started pulling the washed underwear off the line, then the deluge. Heavy wind, then dark sky, then light moisture, then fire hose. I was standing next to my open window loving the cool breeze, so happy and for the fresh air and respite from the heat, thinking: la la la this is fabulous.

It just so happened we were between translators so we were clueless. Eddy and one of the Mommies come streaming into our room, grabbing towels, plastic, mops, and buckets. We are kind of impressed that they are so active all of a sudden, then the water starts pouring under our door and we get it. We threw all or our beds and stuff into a corner and they took over while we were plastered against the wall. Then the power went out.

With no translator or knowledge of the news (such as hurricane warnings), we started to wonder if we were going to make to the airport the next morning at 5 am. It was getting dark and Jean was already 3 hours late. Do the Tap Taps run during hurricanes? Do they close the airport? No one to ask.

Bob decided to put on his bathing suit and go outside and take his shower, soap and all. The girls found this very entertaining, Bob said it was, “refreshing”.

Since we buy all of the water, Eddy and the Mommies put out every container they had to catch the rain, enough to do several days of laundry.

Luckily Niv bought us solar lights and Randy Tollefson donated a set of battery powered tools which included a great light so we spent the evening around the lights, meeting with the girls. Asha gave a talk outlining the proper disposal of trash, (not out the window of the bus) and how our girls are the hope for Haiti in the example they set. I talked about the new bookshelf Bob made for them to have free access to the most beautiful books in Haiti, but they must love and take care of them. Up until now they have been known to tear, throw and write in them.

Before the storm we had quite the productive day: thank you notes, organizing the medications in to the safe lockable cabinet, journal writing wearing the new RMOF School Uniform T-shirts, oragami.

My favorite activity was another dream come true, water color painting. I gave the girls a lesson in wet on wet painting and mixing those beautiful healing colors on their paper. It was a real workout teaching 6 girls at a time, but we did it. Woo hoo

Pictures: Kevly's first water color painting, Painting Class, Underwear washing day, New uniforms, New Book Shelf

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I hope this will be our new home.

TQ 9-3-11

Today we looked at property for sale in the “country”, 30 minutes from the airport. Haiti is a land of walled compounds, each is a world of it’s own. That is one way people stay safe here. Outside the walls is a chaotic public mess, inside orderly and private.

Driving anywhere is exhausting, the roads are horrendous and the traffic is unrelenting. We went down one dirt road with a power pole leaning across it with wires dangling here and there, we made it under without touching a wire by a few inches.

As we wound further away from the crowd the land became lush, the walled compounds bigger. We passed the huge “Food For the Poor” orphanage for disabled children, with its armed guard studded tower. Eventually we made into a cul de sac on a grassy road where no one has driven for a long time. At the end we came to an over grown 10,000 square meter walled property that is for sale. For the Pollyanna in me it was love at first sight. The water table permits you to have your own water from a well. There are no close neighbors, just empty walled lots in various levels of decay with palm trees and that lush jungle feeling. I so hope it will be our new home.

We could grow food there and it would be quiet with clean air and open space. But... the first thing that Wisler and Eddy pointed out is that we would need a guard at night to protect us since there is no one around to help us if there is a problem. We would need a car because there is no tap tap service in the “country”.

We looked at a giant fancy mansion that is for sale, closer to civilization so we would not need a guard at night, but no land to grow food, just a huge house on a small lot. I was wondering who built that house and could I trust them to use the right amount of cement and rebar. I decided that I would rather build our own home for the girls and be able to sleep at night feeling the girls would be safe in an earthquake.

I have to talk to Lucie and see what she says. If it is a go we will buy the land as soon as possible and then you will be hearing all about it!!!

Today was Saturday the Sabbath, the girls were dressed in their best by 8 am for a special picture and off they went on foot to the Adventist Church. Mama Gina and her baby ducklings. After church she leaves for her days off and by this evening I could feel her loss with the lack of grounding. The girls were running wild and making so much noise tonight I felt overwhelmed. We brought them back to center with singing and a celebration of 2 more birthdays, Wisler and Rolanta, it was a crack up.

The water truck came and delivered water to the cistern for all of our showers, remember there is no infrastructure in Haiti. It is every man, woman, and child for themselves..

Pictures: Dressed for Church with dental kits from Dr.Powell, Bob built a new bunk bed, Guard tower entrance to Food For the Poor Orphanage, Celebration to Honor Rolanta and Wisler. Sorry the pictures of the land failed, I am hoping for a video, and sorry if you got the accidental posting of this blog without the pictures. Love Lynn

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Not for the Faint of Heart


THANK YOU GOD, (the name of our trusty bus) took us to the beach again today. This time Jean Wesley was our guide and was excited to take us to a “really nice beach” he heard about. We had to wind through the non streets of Haiti for almost 2 hours, in the last 20 minutes 3 girls got car sick, I have been trying to decide what word to use to describe it, puke, barf, vomit... Asha says use them all it was “so disgusting”.

Actually I had to keep looking forward so I just passed the baby wipes from my purse back to Mama Gina who remained cool, calm, and in charge. In the most loving way she held the girls, gave them a bag and started cleaning everyone, (including herself) and everything up. Wow I love that woman she really proved herself today.

We paid the guy at the gate and were allowed in. Bob says, “It was the first beach I have been to that there is no sandy part, but a wall holding the water back and you enter down stairs”. The water was a clear translucent green, calm, shallow and warm. We were doing great until this group of 30 guys came in being bossed around by a kid with a blaring megaphone. They were dressed like “gangstas” and I was shocked when I noticed their style was to wear their pants below their butt cheeks, with underwear above with some crack action above that. They think that is attractive?????

By that time we were getting pretty laid back, the girls were jumping like fish, and some us adults were spread out under the trees and palapa. All at the same time, Eddie, Mama Gina, the Mammies, Jean and I moved in to surround our girls. I decided to stand at the top of the stairs and express some mama bear body language, I put my hands on my hips and stared them down. They did not know what to do. After about 20 minutes they slowly made their way into the water and had their own fun away from our babies.

Our girls had a great time. They want to learn to swim and were putting their faces in the water, floating on their backs for hours. Thanks to Juanita Joy hitting all of the thrift stores for girls bathing suits, they were the most colorful group of swimmers you ever saw. We played cards, ate popcorn and home made cookies sent by Sandra. Oh yea and in this beach paradise the management had giant speakers blasting the loudest rappy music you ever heard, the gangstas were having a blast playing air instruments, dancing and singing along. A real cultural experience.

No problems making the trek back, just a bus full of sleeping angels. I would like all of our potential volunteers to read this story so they can think long and hard if they have the stomach (ha ha) for this service, you have to be able keep the faith and remain positive when you are tired, hot and wondering how you got yourself into this.

PS We found the most beautiful land today and I think we can afford it. More tomorrow, pray for this to be the home we have been searching for.

Pictures: Girls saying Grace for their morning meal, On the steps at the beach, Birthday celebration for Doriane and Momma Michiella, Santania sleeping on THANK YOU GOD