Monday, December 7, 2009

Hope for the Children of Haiti

I was able to take 2 days away from my regular work to return to Fort Mercredi to see my first Haitian children. Sometimes I joke that it is their fault that I am still in Haiti. It's partially true; the 60 kids at Hope for the Children of Haiti taught me Creole, got me accustomed to Haitian food and Haitian culture and Haitian temperature, and most importantly, got me emotionally attached to the point that I couldn't imagine living far away from them. I don't get to see them frequently now, but when I do, it is like going home. They are comfortable with me around the house (oh, how many months has it taken us to achieve that!) and they don't bawl their eyes out when I leave anymore. Phew!

Little changes - Renick is taller than me. In fact, I think Camille, Jude Tilus, and Steve are the only boys shorter than me now! The Fort Mercredi road is fully paved and UN troops march by the orphanage every afternoon. They just oogled at the sight of a white girl hanging out on the roof of the boys' house. The girls have a beautiful new family room, complete with futons and blown up professional photos of them. They also have brand new, huge, wooden bunk beds that are actually comfortable to sit on! The new cat is named Pikachu; rumor has it that Mitch, the former cat, was stolen and eaten by someone in the neighborhood.

Other things don't change - Duck grinning from ear to ear at everything I say. The girls fighting each other for my good night kisses. Soccer on the roof. Argusto asking questions about American politics and me not knowing the answers. Late night stories with Carmelle, Nadia, Nounoun, and the other "little girls". Charline sacrificing her cup so I could have juice at breakfast. Emmanuel telling me all his problems. Alexandra bringing labouille upstairs for me and Jessica feeding it to me so I could keep typing the girls' emails. Bernadin singing Christmas carols with me and recounting stories about his birth mama. Kattia learning about kwashiorkor and promptly diagnosing everyone in the orphanage as protein deficient. Anything and everything that weekend was waved aside with: "Well, of course that happened. It's because we don't eat enough protein!"

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