I have been substituting half days at Quisqueya Christian School for the past few weeks. It's not what I came to Haiti to do, but it has worked out nicely because it has meant I am more available to help around the house as Dorothy continues to recover slowly. I have taught 11th and 12th grade Bible, 9th grade physical sciences, 10th grade biology, and 11th and 12th grade marine biology. The teaching part is fine, but what I really enjoy is getting to know my students during breaks, after school, and at special activities like the Christmas bazaar and basketball games.
A few of my students are the children of missionaries, but the majority are the children of wealthy Haitians, the offspring of the upper class. It's odd to be spending my mornings with the infant rescue kids - babies who are born into desperate situations, many of whom would have died without Dorothy's assistance - and then to spend my afternoons with youth who have chauffeurs and maids and iPhones. They are mostly great kids, especially the seniors and the freshmen: smart, respectful, enthusiastic, curious, full of big dreams to make a difference in the future. But they live in a different Haiti.
So I invited 5 of my students to accompany me on an afternoon trip to visit the Gonaives orphans at Sherrie's. They came eagerly and many of their classmates pestered me to plan another trip so they could go too. For 3 hours, the richest of the rich played with the poorest of the poor. It was amazing to watch.
The girls were thrilled to have Abir and Katherine entirely to themselves. They were in awe and kept whispering to me, "Miss Keziah, they're so beautiful! Your friends are beautiful!" My senior girls had brought nail polish and did mini-manicures for the orphans. One by one, they came running to me to show off their beautiful nails. You could see in their eyes how special they felt having my students devoting their full attention to them. For one afternoon, they were the center of the universe.
Abraham, one of my freshman, simply could not fathom how small the Gonaives children are. I pointed out Maxime, the oldest one at age 16. "He's 2 years older than me?" Abraham gawked. "But he's tiny! How is that possible?" Oh, Abraham! You have been so fortunate to be born into your family. You've never lived alone on the streets, you've never known real hunger, you've never had to come begging at a pastor's door because your only friend and food supply has disappeared. Maxime has.
Fares, a senior, had introduced me to his baby brother at the Christmas bazaar on Saturday. I watched as he cuddled the 4 year old boy, threw him in the air, bought treats for him, and lovingly protected him from the crowds. He clearly adores that little boy. Today, as Fares and I sat talking, an orphan boy the same size as Fares' brother came walking up to Fares and just wrapped his arms around him. Fares instincively hugged back and asked me how old the child was. "He's 6 or 7," I told him. The look on Fares' face was indescribable - a mixture of surprise, sorrow, and compassion. Such different stories: two little boys of similar stature, one well cared for and deeply loved; the other, 3 years older, neglected and starving for affection.
As we drove away from the orphanage this afternoon, Fares looked very seriously at me and said, "Miss Furth, I am going to be a radical and I am going to change this country." He is smart, he is talented, he is perfectly positioned to have great influence as he gets older, and hopefully, with the images of those orphans in his mind, he will have the compassion to make the kinds of changes that matter.
"I will be waiting and watching, Fares. Change this country."