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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking Care of Each Other


We had a staff meeting tonight and heard about the pressure Eddy feels administering scant money to provide for 27 people every day (20 girls and seven staff). Sometimes he has to choose between food and drinking water. Asha and I know that we come from a different world and struggle to find the middle ground that is sustainable and correct. I am going to promise to find the funding to guarantee drinking water. It is hot and humid here we drink all day and are always thirsty.

We talked about our common love of the girls and focus of caring for them, they made the point that we have to care for our staff too. They work hard, they have dreams and hopes, but how can they move forward in Haiti?

Today I played crazy eights and Asha played crazy with pipe cleaners. Jean arranged the bus for 7:30 am tomorrow when we will go off the beach. Eddy and Wisler made the arrangements for us to look at 2 properties on Saturday. A piece of land and a house, both possibilities for our permanent home.

Bob is building a bunk bed and he put up a medicine cabinet. As you can see in the pictures he has plenty of workers on his crew and the social services had reason to complain that the existing medicine storage is unsafe (no kidding). Asha and I took to organizing the first aid supplies and medication.

Two of our three air mattresses deflated during the night and Bob ended up on the cement floor. We have to come up with a new system.

Last night Asha said she was so glad to be here and not working at the hospital. Now that we have worked and sweated all day she may be missing our nice air-conditioned hospital,

But then again we will be aching to feel those smooth little fingers that are constantly surprising us as they slip into our hands from behind.

Pictures: Bob and he medicine cabinet, Fritzchina and Kerwine aprentice carpenters, Mommy Gina teaching Marceline to crochet, Doriane, Mamma Lynn and Kentyna goofing around

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trauma Queen Returns

August 31, 2011

Sitting here enjoying the breeze and the lightening. I am back on my balcony overlooking the night sky in Haiti. The house has just been transformed from a buzzing bee hive to a slumbering giant. My husband Bob the contractor, and Asha the non doctor (no medical only kids this trip) are crashed on our air mattresses inside. I feel like a new woman after my bucket shower.

Today is Fritzchinas real birthday and we had our traditional cape and crown ceremony this evening. We started this tradition to honor the girls birthdays and of course it has spread to the staff who are equally hungry and deserving to be honored and doted on one day per year. Everyone saves up their birthdays for the times our teams come so we will be doing a celebration every night. The very special guest today was Fritzchina’s mother who had made a promise to come on her birthday, she brought a cake. It is very rare for our girls to be visited, most have never seen one relative in the seven years they have lived here.

We have 2 new beautiful girls, sisters ages 4 and 8 who have adjusted very well to their new home. They have never been to school and cannot read and write. Today we were making name tags to help us get everybody straight. Santania did not know how to write her name, I wrote it for her to copy. She made a beautiful name tag, and another and another. She was thrilled to be writing her name. That is my idea of fun.

For party favors we passed out the sparkling fragrant lavender wands made by a group of loving friends in mendocino county. There was enough for everyone. I told them how lavender is aroma therapy and can help you find peace when you are anxious or worried. They listened and then started using them for weapons.

Bob went right to work repairing the girls beds and already ran out of the screws and nails he brought. He had lots of helpers with the hammer and he said they could not get enough of the electric screwdriver.

Our new director is Mama Gina. She is a real mother type, My soul is at peace watching her and knowing that she is living here holding her wings around our girls. So many things have improved in the the last year, it is incredible.

Thank you and love to all of our supporters, these girls are thriving because of you.

More tomorrow

Lynn, Asha, and Bob

Pictures: Fritzchina"s Special Day, Asha and the girls with the new books, Lavender Wands.