Friday, January 4, 2008

Sweet sixteen

Argusto Joseph will turn 16 on March 13th. He is what I like to call "steady", not upset easily, genial and good-natured, steadfastly loyal to everyone who befriends him, and very logical in a grounded sort of way. He does well in school, although he does like to pretend that he doesn't know as much English vocabulary as he actually does. Basketball is his favorite pasttime and he is one of the few boys who has defined musculature in his arms. This makes him a favorite of mine when I need manual labor done, but Argusto never complains if I take advantage of his strength. He gets teased about his large head, but he just laughs it off and goes about his business.
Alexandra Revolcy will be 16 on April 8th. She is painfully shy; I don't think I've ever had a conversation that lasted more than 2 minutes with her, but she is affectionate and caring, especially with the younger children. She becomes friends with the New Life Link kids and is often sitting with them, just holding them, sometimes helping them with their homework or with a letter to a family member. When exams roll around, Alexandra studies harder than anyone else and she pushes herself to get top grades in everything, even math which she has confessed to me she hates passionately. But when I think of Alexandra, the first thing that comes to mind is letters. Alexandra writes letters to everyone, perhaps to make up for her shyness about talking. She kept me busy every day sending letters to people she has only met once or twice that she has claimed as her friends and that she remains fiercely loyal to.

Miscardet Junior takes time to win over, but once you have won his affection, he is a darling little boy. I used to hug him hello and he would just stand there; now, he hugs me back. And where I used to watch him and he would blush and run away, now I catch him watching me, waiting to see if I'm going to come talk to him. He likes to tease, coming up behind me and giving my knee a little kick so I stumble forward, and he likes to come up with silly nicknames for the other kids like Angelo for Jacques and Bernado for Bernadin. He's always the first one up in the morning and the most enthusiatic about going to play soccer, even when no one else is interested. I remember when Miscardet once asked me, "Keziah, why do you look at me like that?" and I told him, "It's because I love you, Miscardet." He just stared at me, as if he couldn't fathom the possibility that anyone would love him. He's a great kid and his birthday is June 18th.

Lovely Previlus (on the right) will be 16 on Aug. 2nd. She is a performer, a dancer, a singer, a story-teller, always looking for the spotlight. I generally find her in the middle of a throng of giggling girls or racing about the halls, chasing down one of the younger ones. She has made me extremely proud by her stubborn decision to write all her letters in English - she will sit down with a dictionary and write long letters to me, Nikki, Bryn, and her friends in the States. They're not perfect, but I love the fact that she tries so hard. Lovely is also a peace-keeper who helped me immensely when one of the other girls got mad at me and refused to reconcile. Unfortunately, Lovely also likes to tease and to talk very sarcastically, and although she does not mean it to insult, that's how it comes across and she can be a difficult one to handle sometimes. But when she realizes that she has pushed you too far and you really are hurt, she apologizes profusely and sincerely, and does change her behavior, at least for a while. (For more on Lovely, see my post on Tuesday Oct.16 entitled "Sad news").

Acheley Lorisma is one of the quietest boys at HFC, and I was surprised when I sat down with my calender and saw that his birthday is fast approaching on Aug. 11th. Acheley gets along with everybody, and when I say that, I mean that I can find him playing with anyone from the youngest of the boys to the oldest, from the most rowdy of the girls to the sweetest. He is willing to step out of his shell and do things that the other boys would never do in a million years, for instance when the girls and I put together a play with the story of Queen Esther, Acheley volunteered to play the King. He hits a nice balance between doing quiet indoor activities such as beadwork (and he gives away every single item he makes) and playing soccer with the other boys. He tends to put others before himself whenever I'm handing out gifts or talking on the phone, but he also isn't afraid to advocate for himself when he needs something.
Debbie Dorval, turning 16 on Sept. 8th, is an absolute sweetheart. She has this radiant presence that comes from her beautiful smile and from her gentle nature. Debbie is kind to everyone, takes care of the little kids, helps her peers with projects and hairbraiding, shares everything she owns, loves to cuddle with the New Life Link babies, and sews whenever she gets the chance. She is quiet, content to sit back and watch the other girls create drama, but she also enjoys getting up on stage during their talent shows and modelling competitions. Debbie is one of the girls who I hope will be able to work with me in a medical clinic. I can't think of anyone I would rather have holding my hand if I were sick and in pain. (For more on Debbie, see my post from Oct. 16th, entitled "Sad news").

The last birthday, on Oct. 18th, belongs to Chrystel Jean. Chrystel is a tough person for me to write about because she acts very differently with me than she does with most other people. Chrystel is bitingly sarcastic, a trait that she uses to cover the fact that she is afraid that the white visitors of the pension will look down on her because she is Haitian. But since she is so stand-offish and rude at times, most people never understand her and never get to know the fun-loving Chrystel underneath. It took me a few months to win Chrystel over, but she finally must have decided that I really loved her and I wasn't about to look down on her because of her nationality. Now, she is openly affectionate with me and I have grown to love spending time with her because she tells the most hilarious stories. And she has gotten better about her fear of white people - when my friend, Maggie came to visit for 3 weeks, Chrystel became her friend within days, and when I left in May, I told Chrystel that I expected her to show other Americans the same person that she had revealed to me and to Maggie. It wasn't a miracle change, but Chrystel was more gentle and less rude to Nikki and to Bryn than she had been to Kim or to me at the beginning of my stay. I know that it's hard for her to be so vulnerable; she would rather be difficult to protect herself from the pain of loving people who are only there short-term. Such is the life of an orphan and although I would like to say that I would not act the way she does, if I had suffered the abandonment and lack of love that she has, I would probably do the same thing.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I wish these kids all the best. We are in the middle of adopting twins from Haiti. Debbie is the one who really stands out to me. I wish the paperwork wasn't so long and the cost so high and more people would probably adopt. I wanted a third child but we couldn't borrow enough money to cover a third.