Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm an adult. Really, I am!

I am a mature 23 year old. Therefore my final evening in Haiti was spent cooking a nice dinner, drinking wine and chatting with my friends, praying about the future, and stargazing.

Oh, never mind. Who am I kidding?

I spent my last evening in Haiti ... do I dare admit it? I spent my last evening in Haiti reenacting songs from High School Musical 3 with my roommates.

I know, I know. Those movies were made for 9 and 10 year old girls. We are 23, 25, and 29 years old. What's wrong with us? Well, in our defense, let me just say that it started as an outreach to the girls at Dannae's school. We invited some of them over for brownies and a movie a few Sundays ago. The movie? High School Musical. They loved it, so we had them over again to see the second movie. To make it a little more fun, we decided to dress up like the characters. I was Troy, Dannae was Gabriella, and Casey was Sharpay. We were amazing.

After that, High School Musical became - this sounds really weird - our love language. We roomies sing the songs to each other all the time, we quote lyrics and lines to each other, and we spontaneously break out into dance moves. In our defense, the songs are catchy and the dances are easy (which is important for me because I can't dance). So that last evening, Casey filmed while Dannae and I acted out our favorite songs. It was the craziest, funniest, most memorable night I've ever had with roommates!

Go Wildcats!

Good-bye to my good students

The day before I left Haiti, I threw a Good-bye Miss Furth/Happy Birthday Djamina and Ricky/The Freshmen are Super Amazing Party at Quisqueya Christian School. I've substitute taught there occasionally over the course of the year and the class that I have gotten to know the best is the 9th grade. They are an exceptionally polite, fun, and tightly unified class. I loved teaching them. And even when my subbing jaunts were over, sometimes I would go to the school in the afternoon when I was done with clinic to play soccer with them. One third of the class also attends youth group at my church, so I got to know those teens particularly well. These are missionary kids or children of the upper class, so they don't have the physical needs that are common to most people I encounter in Haiti; instead, they struggle with the same kinds of issues that face American teens: eating disorders, rebellion, crushes, frustration with parents, temptation to abuse drugs and alcohol, etc.

One of my students, Kevin, gave me a going-away gift. It was very appropriate to my age and interests. It was a baby doll. A baby doll that came with a pink cell phone and glittery cell phone case. Thank you, Kevin!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Will you help?

In March, over 300 homes were demolished in the Ravine where I work. Nearly 1000 people became homeless overnight. Among the victims, 4 families that I see and care for weekly have turned to me for help. They all have small children ranging from 5 months to 7 years and until they can find the money to rent their own houses, they are forced to share the already overcrowded shacks of their neighbors and friends. One family is living in an unfinished room where the dust from the raw concrete blocks causes the 3 year old boy to have a chronic cough, and where open windows let in malaria-carrying mosquitos all night. Another had no choice but to move to another neighborhood where they can share a hut with relatives; they have a place to stay, but away from our Ravine, the baby no longer has easy access to health care and supplementary food from Sherrie's feeding program.

I need $1600 to provide these families with rent money for the year. I can't do that myself. I know times are hard right now, but if you can spare a few dollars for my families in the Ravine, we will be immensely grateful. I have promised them that I will help and they trust me to keep my word.

If you can make a donation, please write checks to Much Ministries and mail them to me:
Keziah Furth
89 Pleasant St #6
Brookline, MA 02446

(Much Ministries is a non-profit organization based out of Georgia. They partner with me in the Ravine ministry and my work in Gonaives. You can check out their website at

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Good-bye to my kids

I got to spend 2 days at HFC during my last week in Haiti. In the mornings, I helped Dr. Bernard make corrections to the New Life Link website and in the afternoons and evenings, I got to catch up with my Haitian kids. Teenage orphans are such enigmas - in some ways, being with them is amazing, but in other ways, it's so painful. I have a dream that someday, when they are grown up, they will sit down with me and tell me honestly how they felt about life in the pension, about having adoptive families or not having adoptive families, about people like me coming and going, about just being a teen. It is so hard for them to trust people and it is hard for me to see us gradually losing the fragile trust that we once worked so diligently so create.

The kids are growing up. Our oldest 5 (Alex, Evens, Stephanie, Argentine and Kattia) have only 1 more year of high school. Another 7 (Duck, Jefthe, Jacques, Bernadin, Jeanine, Youdemie, and Martine) will graduate in 2 years. HFC is working on ideas to help those children transition into adulthood. Please be praying for them in this process and pray for the children who definitely have fears and questions about their future. People often ask me how long I intend on staying in Haiti and although I don't know for sure, I do feel that I have a commitment to stay in the country until those older kids are well established. They are my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, and even though I have stepped back from them in the past year, I cannot imagine not being available to them should the need arise.

Oh well. Time to stop being melodramatic. Some things don't change - like the boys wanting me to come watch them play soccer at Maranatha. I like their new coach. He actually makes them warm up and stretch before playing, and he holds a special session on Saturday mornings just for the little boys. Speaking of little boys, Ernso went home to France 3 weeks ago. Silly Bernadin forgot that he had promised to call me and tell me when Ernso left so I completely missed his departure. Tsk tsk, Bernadin. The boys miss Peterson and Mathurin a lot too, especially on the soccer field.

USAID has partnered with the local government to repair the road that runs through Fort Mercredi. Now perhaps I won't have to wish I had written my will each time I drive down that precipice in the tap-tap.

Evens Auguste, our oldest kid, has been coaching the girls' basketball team for his class at Maranatha. His team made it to the final of the school's intramural basketball league so some of the kids came to watch the championship game. None of the 3 HFC girls in Evens' class opted to play, but Stephanie was in charge of the music and halftime festivities. It's cool seeing her outside the pension and seeing how all her schoolmates respect her leadership. Evens' team lost and I was told later that in the despair of defeat, a girl from their class started having palpitations and passed out. None of the teachers took it seriously, so Stephanie, Kattia and Argentine took care of her, contacted her parents, and arranged for her to be taken to the hospital. How's that for maturity and leadership?!

If you remember, in February I was at the pension when a team was building giant wood bunk beds for the boys' house. By miraculous maneuvering they were able to get the bunks into some of the rooms. The boys can finally enjoy a bed that is long enough for them and wide enough to really stretch out, but the trade-off is the loss of open space in each room. No more sitting on the floor and playing cards in rooms 1 or 2.

Another change at the boys' house is their new dog, Milo. Milo is still a young puppy and he loves to nip.

Just as I was worrying that the kids did not really trust me anymore, Jacques Obain changed my mind. We were sitting on the roof together, not really saying anything, when out of the blue, he began to talk to me about his biological family. We don't know much about Jacques' family because he was found alone at the hospital when he was a small child. I've always guessed that Jacques has a million questions about his family and probably a lot of resentment, but in the 3 years that I have known him, he has never spoken about it. That night on the roof though, he started asking questions and honestly admitting how hard it has been not knowing the truth about his family. He didn't cry but I did.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last Ravine day

It was very hard to walk through the Ravine and tell people that it will be 4 months before they see me again. I have developed solid relationships with so many families down there and though most of the time, they are not in need of serious medical care, they just like to have me checking on their kids and showing that I haven't forgotten them. They were upset that I was leaving but they were relieved to hear that I am coming back. Two parents called me every day until I left, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, just to say good-bye and to remind me to think of them while I am gone.

I will miss seeing their big smiles when I walk up. I will miss seeing the trust in their eyes when I give them advice about their children. I will miss the ever-treacherous river crossing and the narrow passageway alongside it. What I will not do is worry - my faithful community health worker, Wesnal, will be walking through the Ravine daily to deliver food to the babies in Sherrie's feeding program and he will keep an eye on my families. He has been a great assistant. I couldn't do what I do without Wesnal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zanglais Part 1

On the last day of April, we loaded almost 40 kids from my church youth group into a van and a big truck and drove 4 hours to Zanglais for the senior high retreat. The ride could have been uncomfortable and boring but instead it was a high energy prelude to the retreat with games and surfing and singing and snacks. And a little sleeping.

One of the most dramatic moments of the trip was when we came around a bend in the mountain road and saw how a similarly sized truck had fared. Not exactly encouraging!

Zanglais is near Les Cayes, a city of about 75,000 on the southern coast of Haiti. The beaches are sandy, unlike the rocky ones closer to Port-au-Prince, and the waves can get 12 feet high. We spent long afternoons in the water, or for those of us who really don't like salt water, walking and talking on the beach.

Several of the kids are musically talented and many of them have a real passion for singing. There was almost always a group of young people in the gazebo strumming the guitar, pounding away on the bongos and singing praise songs over the crashing of the waves.

During our free time, we played soccer, played a million different card games, and just talked. We even went for an early morning run on the beach! I could've killed the 2 girls who woke me up at 5:00am to go running - we hadn't gone to sleep 'til midnight so I was exhausted. But the run was refreshing and completely worth it.

Of all the retreats that I've been to as a teen and a young adult, this one was easily the winner when it came to balancing fun times with serious times. The kids got to laugh and run around but they also sat down and listened to chapel talks from each of the leaders and took time away by themselves to reflect on what they were learning. I loved seeing a student sitting alone with a Bible or praying with a friend.

Lots of talking, lots of playing, and very little sleeping means tired kids and very tired leaders!