Monday, November 30, 2009

Open the doors

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".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zye chat

The kids at HFC always used to tell me I had "zye chat" which means cat eyes. I never really knew what they meant. I'm still not sure what they mean. This week, I saw this lovely specimen at one of the homes in the Ravine. Surely my eyes don't look like that!

The triplets triple!

Remember the three babies that I was caring for in September? It was hands-down the most exhausting week of my life - may God never bless me with triplets again. We succeeded in obtaining medical visas for the girls and they have been living with my boss, Vanessa, in the US for the past 2 months, getting fat! When we first brought them to Port-au-Prince, they weighed 2, 2, and 3 pounds respectively. Now, they have more than tripled in weight and they are doing marvelously. Aren't they beautiful?

Friday, November 20, 2009


I took Bidlaire and his family to Smile Train this morning. The US surgeons and nurses looked at his shoulder and heard his history. They advised me to send him to General Hospital to have the arm amputated and to go to Hopital St Damien for follow-up chemotherapy. Then one of the docs pulled me aside.

"You understand all of this is just palliative, right?" he asked sympathetically. "If the arm is not amputated, the cancer is going to break open soon and be a disgusting mess, so bad that no one will go near the boy. So it needs to be amputated, but he is going to die."

In the car, as we drove away from the hospital, the boy's uncle and guardian turned to me.

"Miss Kez, everything you've done means a lot. And I want you to know that if things don't work out, it's not your fault. You did all you could."

I am glad that I was sitting behind Bidlaire so he couldn't see my eyes. They were full of tears.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where in the world has Kez been?

All over the place!

Doing rounds to the cutest babies in the world down in the Ravine:

Taking stitches out of an old man's face:

Checking up on a badly infected finger:

Running clinic single-handedly in the city of Croix de Bouquets. I saw 345 patients in 4 days. Not only was the week very successful in terms of patient care, it also served as a publicity stunt to alert the neighborhood to the clinic's presence.

Helping at a feeding program on Delmas 75 with friends and students from Quisqueya Christian School. For everyone else, the feeding program consists of feeding little children. For me, it consists of cleaning dirty foot wounds and giving children my socks so they can keep the cuts clean.

Trying to find emergency treatment for this 14 year old boy. Bidlaire has bone cancer in his shoulder and the Haitian doctor who has been taking care of him predicts that without intensive radiation and chemotherapy, Bidlaire won't make it through January. We are trying to get an emergency visa or miraculous care in Haiti. Tomorrow, I take him to the Smile Train surgical team to see if they can do anything for him. Realistically, I think we're going to lose this one. And it breaks my heart.

As if my week wasn't crazy enough from clinics to cancer patients to the Ravine to the patients that randomly appear at my doorstep, I polished it off with the biggest youth group event of the fall. On Friday night, we opened the church doors to 126 teenagers for an overnight.

Usually the overnights include some singing, a brief testimony from one of the kids, and then lots of games and dancing. This year though, in keeping with our more serious trend, we kept things more least until 1:30am. After that, who can do anything serious? Marc spoke at the beginning of the night and I spoke later in the evening. We also had a Q&A session where the kids could ask any questions for me, Marc, and the other adult leaders to answer. They are asking the right questions, the hard questions, about what it means to really believe, and it was fantastic seeing each of the chaperones add his or her wisdom to the reponses.

The best part of the overnight started at 11:30pm and didn't stop until after 1:30am! We brought all the leaders to the front of the room into a prayer line and called the kids up to receive prayer. At first, we called them by group, but after a little while, I released them to go outside and play if they wanted. Eighty kids stayed inside to be prayed for. I absolutely love being able to place my hand on a young man's forehead and pray God's blessing over him or to hold a young girl's hand and whisper God's words of encouragement and affirmation to her. It was a long night but a wonderful one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Johnny J

I was afraid that my Johnny J would not remember me after my 4 month absence this summer.


He remembers me. I walk in and he either just stares at me like I'm a phantom or he starts throwing flirtatious, shy looks my way. Once I pick him up, he will not let go of my neck. If I set him down beside me, he keeps a hand on me at all times and frequently just lays his head down in my lap. This Saturday, I was able to get him playing and laughing - he can run now and he can nod "Yes" to simple questions. I love spending time with him, but I hate leaving. Usually he just stares at me as I walk out; this week though, he sobbed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My rooftop sanctuary

My new favorite place in Haiti is next door, on the roof of St Joseph's Boys' Home and Guest House. As their neighbor and friend, I am welcome anytime, so I frequently spend my early mornings and my evenings on the roof, overlooking the mountains from one side and the city from the other. It is the best place to pray and be refreshed.