Friday, May 30, 2008

Dokte Job

Job is a crybaby. I don't want to sound mean, but the kid literally cries at the drop of a hat. He will cry for days straight before I leave or before his favorite American friends leave, and man, does he ever cry when he gets hurt! It seemed like all I was ever doing for Job was bandaging up his cuts and scrapes and then hugging him while he cried it out. So my Christmas present to him: his own first aid kit, fully equipped with band aids, cold packs, neosporin, ace bandages, and tweezers.

Overnight, Job was transformed. He still cries easily, but his horror at bloody wounds has turned into a fascination and a sense of duty. Whenever one of the boys got hurt while I was there, Job would appear at my side instantly and watch wide-eyed as I cared for the injury. I decided to foster his interest and give him assignments.

TiJude badly sprained his finger playing basketball the day before I left for my week outing to the clinics. I called Job to accompany me and TiJude up to my room. Together, we iced the sore finger and then splinted it to the next finger. I worked with Job, showing him how to apply the splint and then gave him supplies so that he could take care of it while I was gone. The day that I got back to the orphanage, Job and TiJude came running up to me.

"Look, Keziah!" Job pointed excitedly. "I fixed TiJude's finger!"

TiJude held up his little finger which was still a bit crooked, but much less swollen and fully functional. It was hard to tell who was more proud: me, Job or TiJude. (I don't really know why TiJude would be proud; maybe he just felt special for having been made much of by Job all week).
Stev was our next victim. He got a few open sores on his legs that needed neosporin and band aids. Of course, the best time of day to apply those is just before bed, otherwise, they just come off as the children play or when they bathe. Again, I turned to my assistant. "Of course I'll do it!" Job replied eagerly. So I showed him how to wash the sores, put on the ointment and then cover them with a band aid and Job did it each evening until the sores closed.
We were getting ready to go to Bataillon and I didn't see Reginald anywhere, so I went downstairs and sure enough, he was asleep on his bunk. Reginald has a tendency to lag behind when we go out and I have several times had to wait a full 5 minutes for him after the other boys have already left. I asked Manno if Reginald was sick and when he said no, I advised him to go hurry the boy out of his room so we could all leave together.

As we walked down the hill, I noticed the boys giving me strange glances. We got to the bottom and I saw that Reginald had an open cut and a big bump just above his eye. I immediately approached him to see if he needed it taken care of but he gave me a look that said "Drop dead, you fiend!" and ran away. I was totally perplexed until Drisk explained it. "He ran into a wall and hurt his head. He wasn't supposed to have to come to Bataillon because he was hurt but you made him come, so he's ticked."

It was a few days before I could convince Reginald that I had been unaware of his injury and that if I had known, I would never have made him come. And even when he did accept my explanation and apology, he was still a bit wary around me for a day or two. During that time, it was again Dokte Job who put the neosporin and the band aid on Reginald's head.

I have always thought that Fabiola and Argentine were the ones that I would take on internships to my clinic, but maybe I will have to change my plans...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Intern abuse

Let's make sure I have this right.

Child abuse is when a child gets abused. Animal abuse is when an animal gets abused. Elder abuse is when an elderly person gets abused. Therefore, intern abuse is when an intern gets abused. Technically, I'm an ex-intern, but when I'm staying at the pension for 3 weeks, I think I can reassume the title, so we'll stick with "intern abuse" instead of "ex-intern abuse."

Who inflicted aforementioned abuse upon me? Ironically, I seem to recall posting an article about how this young man is my protector, my bodyguard, yet recently, he has morphed into a heinous human being, capable of wreaking havoc and bodily harm on innocent interns. Yes, his name is Bernadin Guy Junior.

We'll begin with the minor offenses.

1. The arm-wrestling. He arm-wrestled me. And beat me. Multiple times. This falls into the category of physical and emotional abuse. When one of your children beats you repeatedly in an arm-wrestling contest, it takes a physical toll (my shoulder ached for a few days) and it certainly makes you feel an emotional loss - "Help! He can beat me at arm-wrestling, he's growing up, soon he's not going to need me to pull the splinters out of his feet or spread his peanut butter for him...Aaah!"

He thought I was letting him win. Don't I wish! I finally had to pull up this photo of him weight-lifting with Wislandy to prove to him that he really is strong. If he was white, he would have blushed all over when I pointed out how muscular his arm has become.
2. The soccer ball. I walked across to the boys' house and through the courtyard, minding my own business. Bernadin was there, kicking around a soccer ball. As soon as I stepped foot through the gate, he began kicking the ball at me with all his might. It hurt! I tried to kick back but I am a hopelessly weak kicker. I thought that my superior baseball skills might help me out, so I took the ball in hands to throw it at him. Bad plan. He then started using his hands to literally beat me. Check this out:

I did fight back, I swear. But the fight ended with me looking like this and him unperturbed.
3. The bitings. This one came out of nowhere too. We were just sitting on his bed talking and suddenly he bent down and bit my upper arm. We're talking tooth marks, Keziah yelling, Bernadin pulling - that kind of bite. I guess he thought it was amusing because he bit me 4 times on that arm. Tooth marks each time. Like his arm-wrestling talent, he didn't have any idea how powerful a biter he actually is until I appeared the next morning with 4 bruises on my arm. He was mortified but insisted that it had nothing to do with how hard he bites and everything to do with weak American skin.

4. The mango wars. It was phase 2 of our mango party last month. Bernadin was being surprisingly grumpy despite the 4 mangos in his possession. I was peacefully munching on a mango and came in to see if his mood had improved so I could take a smiling photo of him for our mango sponsor. He looked up at me, down at his mango skin, and up at me again. A wicked smile. I should have run. I didn't. Soon we looked like this. He does have mango on his face, you just can't see it because he's Haitian.
Once we were done smearing each other with mango pits and skins, we went down to the courtyard to wash off. He rinsed and then I stepped up to the faucet. "Don't waste your time, Keziah." Another wicked grin. "I'm not done eating yet."

I didn't even try to fight back this time. I just ducked and dodged and protected myself as best I could. My best wasn't very good. We have now progressed to looking like this.
And when the final mango was in his stomach (and on my face, arms, legs, hair, and t-shirt) we were looking like this. He was distinctively not grumpy by this point.
Fortunately, this entire post is a gag. His playful rough-housing is the farthest thing from abuse. I would be disturbed if he didn't beat me up every now and then. It's just another way that he has of saying "I love you." The biting was the only slightly confusing one, but he admitted late that evening that it was another "Do you really love me?" test. He wanted to see whether I would get mad and stop loving him if he caused me physical pain. I think I passed the test.

Sometimes you can't win

Remember little Johnny Joseph, the malnourished baby that I examined during my last week in Haiti? He got worse after I left, developing ear infections in both ears. Dorothy and Sherrie took him in for bloodwork. He is HIV positive.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gaye paye

OK, I don't want to be unjust here. Emmanuel did dance for me once upon a time. This was back when I was tutoring him every day after school and I guess he must have been in a really good mood because he not only danced for me, he let me film it too. Check this out:

Good old gaye paye, THE Haitian dance. You should see me gaye paye. Better yet, you should see the girls' reaction to me dancing gaye paye.

Mama Youdemie

Wislandy is the youngest of the HFC children. She is only 6 years old, which makes her 5 years younger than the next youngest HFC kid, Nehemie. Most of the time, her big sisters treat her well, helping her with her homework, playing with her, letting her hang out with them even if she doesn't understand what's going on. But like most big sisters, they can get frustrated with her too. Every now and then, I catch one of the 13 or 14 year old girls slapping Wislandy across of the hand or yelling at her for breaking a rule or for just being an annoying little sister. This ticks me off. Those girls are too young to discipline her, just like I was too young to discipline my little sister when we were kids - they need to call me, one of the oldest girls, or one of nannies when Wislandy misbehaves.

Fortunately, Wislandy has a surrogate mom among the oldest girls. Youdemie is not the brightest student at school, but when it comes to looking out for her younger sisters, she is A+. She will defend Wislandy when the 13's and 14's get a little too rough, but she will also justly discipline the little girl or take her to Se Pradel for a punishment. She doesn't take any nonsense from anyone. Se Pradel does a marvelous job looking after and taking care of Wislandy (she even bathes Wislandy in her private bathroom every morning and afternoon!) but when she is not around, Youdemie fills her shoes.

Fèy and fatra

What are those leaves sticking up from the back of Keziah's head?

Good question.

One Sunday afternoon, we couldn't go to Jeunesse (Youth Group) so I took a bunch of the boys up to the seminary to play volleyball and basketball. The little ones ran around in the trees, hunting for zandolits, almonds, and chickens. I was sitting with Marie Maude, one of the nannies when they came up behind me. I kept talking with Maude while the boys began to play with my hair. I didn't think anything of it - all the kids are fascinated by my very non-Haitian straight brown/blond hair - until one of the older boys glanced at me and laughed.

The little boys can't keep a secret. They gleefully told me that I had leaves in my hair. "That's fine," I answered. "I've always wanted to be a tree." This cracked them up, so I decided to keep them laughing and let the leaves stay in my hair.

I walked back down the road to the orphanage with the leaves still in my hair. At every turn, people were doing double-takes and announcing, loud enough for me to hear, "Look. The white girl has "fatra" (trash) in her hair. Keziah has trash in her hair." The first few times, I turned and corrected them: "It's
"fèy" (leaves), not trash!" After a while, I gave up and just grinned at them when they commented on my trashy head.

Thinking about it later, this strange language gimmick actually makes sense. Suppose Haitians have trash and leaves backwards in their minds. That would explain why leafy trees disappear in this country and why trash is discarded in the street without a second thought. So maybe the solution to the deforestation and pollution in Haiti is simply to spend more time in 2nd grade teaching the difference between "f
èy" and "fatra".

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Haiti blues

This is how I feel. I miss my kids. Four months is a long time.

Under fire

When there is no electricity and it's just too hot to play soccer, what do you do?

If you are an HFC boy and you have a rubber band, you shoot people. Fortunately for those of us who were the targets of said amusement, the ammunition was paper. Unfortunately, said paper was folded into miniature pellets that were as hard as rocks and hurt almost as much. The wiser victims stayed in secure positions like the gallerie where they could hide behind the benches when the missiles began to fly.
Less wise victims remained on the staircase where you would have to be blind to miss, especially when firing from this close range. (Don't worry, he wasn't actually shooting at me. He was just demonstrating good form.)
Miscardet was the instigator of the sport and he was the clear gold medalist. He could hit a target at 40 feet and when he did, OH BOY, did it sting! I was perfectly happy when he turned his prowess to hunting birds instead of helpless interns.
This is my favorite photo. It proves that I am a quality war correspondent. Miscardet was actually shooting at me - at my head, to be exact - and I successfully captured the shot while flinging myself on the ground to save my life. I heard the bullet - I mean, wad of paper - ricochet off the wall behind me and from the courtyard floor, I gave up a prayer of thanks that I was still breathing. Look at the grin on his face! Do you think he was amused to see me scramble for my life or what? Oh, I love that boy.

The models

When the girls stole my camera (on the same evening as the boys - what was I thinking that night?) they went crazy posing with pillows, cell phones, my bed, the mirror, each other, the babies...They even blew pixie dust around (which I then had to sweep up). Still, I can't complain because it got shy Alexandra and camera-shy Carmelle into some photos.

On the boys' roof

Whenever I start playing at the boys' house, I have to take off my camera. I generally leave it in the gallerie on the bench or the window sill. Inevitably, it is gone when I go looking for it later. I never worry though, because I know that it is in one of two places: on Renick's or Job's shoulders. They have become my self-appointed camera keepers and whenever given the opportunity, they become my photographers too. I do not let the kids take photos with my camera unless I am there, (too great a risk of breaking an expensive camera or inadvertantly deleting my photos) but that rule gets broken at least once every trip by both boys and girls. This time, it was a Sunday afternoon at the boys' house when Job snuck my camera up to the roof and captured these priceless portraits.