Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas miracle!

News fresh off the Haitian press: Poutchino is walking by himself!

Poutchino is the 7 year old boy with hydrocephalus who lives at Dorothy's. I had hoped he would achieve this incredible milestone, but to be honest, I didn't think he ever would. The icing on the cake is that Natasha, the young lady who lived with me at Dorothy's last year and who spent months doing physical theraphy with Poutch, is there right now to see him walking. This, my friends, is why I work in Haiti!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"It's a nice day for a white wedding"

Last weekend, I traveled to beautiful Bel Air, Maryland, for my friend Maggie's wedding. As if the usual culture shock of Haiti-to-America was not enough, we woke up on our first morning to this:

I think I was the only one truly excited about the snow that was still falling fast and furious. While I ran around, frozen to the bone, but pretty excited about my first snow in two full years, Maggie made the tough decision to postpone her wedding until the next day in hopes that the blizzard would be over and people could brave the drive to the church and reception. She did not, however, want to wait to get officially married, so we began to plan for a living room wedding.

We were staying at a large house that Nicole, one of the bridesmaids, was house-sitting for a client. The homeowner had assured Nicole that we could stay with her and that we could help ourselves to anything. We took her rather literally.

The house was beautifully decorated for Christmas. We pilfered ribbons, candles, trays, and 8 poinsettas to decorate the groom's family home, where the living room wedding was to take place. We scrounged through the cupboards and found the ingredients for a chocolate cake that we layered like a wedding cake with cupcakes as a third layer. For the bride and groom figurines, we used 2 pieces from the Chutes and Ladders box.

The living room ceremony was perfect. Not in execution but in keeping with Maggie's personality. The wedding planner could not attend, so I got to be the one setting everything up, running rings back and forth, coordinating between bride, groom and pastor, and directing the processional. It was hilariously fun. We crammed nearly 40 people into the "chapel", including the groom's 14 younger siblings. The room was so full that there wasn't room for Maggie and her father to walk side by side down the makeshift aisle. But everyone got a close-up view and there was a lot of laughter and cheering throughout the entire ceremony. Best of all, Maggie got her childhood wish: she was married barefoot.

The next day, when the snow had finally stopped at a whopping twenty inches, we had wedding number 2 at the church. Once again, Maggie was beautiful. The whole ceremony felt relaxed and fun, since those of us who were intimately involved knew that the couple was, in fact, already married.

My job at wedding number 2 was a runner and a photographer. During the reception also, I traipsed around with Maggie's camera, trying unsuccessfully to catch couples twirling on the dance floor, and snagging shots of mothers rocking babies and sipping cider. Now and then, I deposited the camera and joined the dancing with my Chop Point friends, Hannah and Raelyn.

Thanks to the snowstorm, the double wedding, and some car trouble, I stayed an extra 2 days in Maryland. A wild adventure like that means that I have a new crowd of friends to try to visit on my brief sojourns to the US. We had an amazingly fun and crazy weekend; the only drawback was this:


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hopeful Haiti

Someone recently told me that Haiti has a sense of hopelessness. In some ways, I think he was right: if you look at the government, the trash, the traffic, the masses of unemployed people, the overwhelming feeling is despair. But on the other hand, when I walk down the street and chat with the ladies selling vegetables or when I watch my little neighbors making doll dinners with berries, leaves, and bottle caps or when I see a group of adults in the slum sharing a plate of food and laughing over a joke, I see hope. Lots of hope.

I took an informal poll of my Ravine families and to the person, everyone said that Haiti has hope. I asked why and one man answered, "Where there is God, there is hope."

Shoebox dance party!

My neighborhood friends invited themselves over for a spontaneous Christmas dance party at the Shoebox. We ate Oreos, painted our nails, put on my skirts, blasted "All I Want for Christmas is You" and "Feliz Navidad", and danced! It was the perfect send off for my trip to the US.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My handsome boys!

The boys hate having their photo taken but if I allow one of them to take the photos, they go crazy! I entrusted the camera to Alex and watched the boys pull out all their slickest clothes and assume what they consider the coolest gangster poses. They would probably be mortified if they saw which photos I chose to feature here, but I really do prefer the goofy, natural ones as opposed to the mug shots and the bling shots!

This one of Hermilus is hands-down my favorite!

Look how tired poor Alex was after taking 292 photos!!