I am temporarily alone in the Shoebox. I feel very safe because the St Joseph's guard is always in the courtyard just across the street and the older teenage boys from the home are always sitting on a bench in front of my house, talking and listening to music. However, I also feel somewhat alone. I see all these children in the street around my house every day and I have been dying to get to know them.
As it turns out, St Joe's misfortune was my blessing. I came home one evening to find that the boys' home/guest house had no electricity because someone had lost the generator key. Most of the boys were milling around in the street, so I offered my house. They haven't known me for long and they are a bit shy, but slowly they came. I am their personal nurse, so the ones who have been seeing me for medical needs were the first and they were soon followed by other boys and by several of my young neighbors.
Pretty soon, the Shoebox was full of about 15 kids, ranging in age from 7 year old Zion to 18 year old Fenton. They admired my tree, played guitar, and ate the brownies that I'd been saving for a special occasion. We eventually settled in my "living room", with kids sitting on chairs, on the exam table, and on the floor, watching The Parent Trap in French. It was fantastic.
Every day when I come home now, I am greeted by Zion, Agassi, Rosemina, Shirley, and Malesda, my young neighbors. They help me carry groceries to the house, water my plants, and sweep my stoop. Of course, they beg to be invited in again, so a few days after our cinema night, I brought them in. We danced to Christmas music, drummed to Christmas music, and made paper snowflakes to Christmas music.
It feels great to be part of the community, to have people in the street who know me by name, who run up and give me hugs when I come home. I remember the first time that I really thought to myself, "Haiti has become home"; it was in 2007, the day that I walked down the hill from the seminary to HFC and heard the street boys greeting me by name. And now, thanks to my little friends, my new neighborhood has also become "home".