Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Little Taste of Home..


I left Haiti last December in preparation to give birth to my baby boy, Beau.  I had planned to come to Canada for his birth, stay a couple of months, and then head back "home" to Haiti.  However, after arriving in Canada, plans quickly changed.  Ryan and I started thinking of the life we wanted for our son.  We realized that if we went back to Haiti not only would we have no help/little help or anyone to ask for advice, but our son would be estranged from his family here in Canada and in the United States.  He would not get to grow up playing hockey or trick or treating at Halloween.  He would not have access to great medical care or education (at least nothing that is affordable for us at the moment).  So many things came to light and I realized just how fortunate I have been to grown up in North America.  We are surrounded by unlimited resources and so many opportunities. So my thought process was "is it fair for me to strip my child away from this? Is it fair for me to decide to bring him into a life that I chose to live, once I was old enough to make my own decisions?"  It was my choice to move to Haiti.  It was my decision to live with less and be far from my family.  It was my choice to miss birthdays, funerals, weddings, etc to live out MY calling.  But would this be my sons calling as well?

It has been the best yet toughest year of my life.  It's always hard making big decisions but now even more so than ever as I must make these big decisions for someone other than myself.  It's not as simple as just following my heart anymore.  It is no longer about me and what I want, it is about this little boy who has me completely wrapped around his finger.

However, on the other side, I also have 15 children who I love with all of my heart and who are depending on me too.  I have a country which I have called home and where I have loved and lost so many.  This is the longest I have ever been away from them.  I had planned to take trips back and forth but what I didn't realize is that breast feeding kind of makes that hard.  Plus balancing work and starting a new business. And then the thought of being away from Beau for a week is almost unbearable.  All of the little things that I would miss.   I would love to bring Beau with me, but due to the current political unrest and him being too young to receive some of the vaccinations, I also do not want to expose him to any dangerous situations or illnesses.

I feel stuck between two lives.  And my heart breaks every single day.

I miss waking up to so many little ones jumping on my bed and taking them on beach days.  I miss driving up the winding mountainous roads and the breathtaking scenery.  I miss the simplicity of life there and the focus on human contact and relationships versus materialistic items.  Although I have family and friends here, I often feel alone.  I've been struggling to try and figure out why I feel this way.  And then I realized its simple... Every where you go in Haiti, you are constantly surrounded by people. You are greeted with kisses on the cheek, someone taking your hand, someone always asking you how you are.  Your neighbours are always checking in on you, bringing you lemon juice and soup when you fall ill.  You have real conversations.  Not conversations about what things you bought when you went shopping last week.. and you don't have the materialistic items to distract you.  You talk.  You enjoy each others company.  You sit on the side of a mountain with a family that has nothing more than four mud walls around them, and you are the happiest you have ever been.  I miss it terribly.  But yet, I also miss Canada when I am there.  So what do I do?

I don't know the answer to that.  I am not sure if I ever will.  No matter what decision I make I will always be missing someone.  There is no simple solution.  Duct tape can't fix this one.  I've remained silent over the last few months... suffering quietly... trying to figure out this balance of who I used to be and who I am now and what that means for me and my family's future.  I've been feeling guilt for wanting to go to Haiti because that means leaving my son at home, and I've also been feeling guilty for being here in Canada and being away from my kids in Haiti.  I've distanced myself from fundraising and posting updates as its been too painful for me to talk about Haiti or the kids.  And the guilt from that consumes me as well.

At this moment, I've decided that although it will be extremely difficult to leave my son for an entire week, I will return to Haiti at the beginning of March to try to ease some of this burden I have been feeling.  My friend & coworker Lacey will also be joining me.  I can't wait to finally hug and squeeze all the littles that I've been missing so much.  I can't wait to laugh and to catch up with our staff members and see the progress that has been made.  It has been over a year since I have seen them.  I can only imagine how they have grown and how they've changed.  It saddens me to know that I have missed out on all of the new things our toddlers are doing and all of the challenges our teens have faced.  Skype and WhatsApp can only tell/show so much.  But I am grateful for our dedicated staff and nannies who have continued to care for our children and keep me updated day to day.  I will miss my son terribly and will likely cry every day that I am gone.. however.. it comforts me to know that he is in good hands here with his very supportive and understanding Dad, and with my family to assist him.  I know this is something I must do.   I know that my heart needs this more than ever.  Haiti has become such an integral part of who I am.  I need a little taste of "home".  I need a little taste of "me".







Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Updates from Haiti!

As I sit here staring at my large screen television and my enjoying my air conditioned home, my heart can't help but feel guilt and long for my children in Haiti.  This is the longest I have ever gone without hearing their giggles and being smothered in their hugs and kisses.  It is hard.  I keep telling myself that I need to be home right now, I need to stay put, I need to think about what is best for my son and wait until he is vaccinated before visiting.. but that doesn't stop the longing.  My heart physically hurts.  There is not a minute that goes by that I don't wonder what they are doing, how they are doing, and when I will be able to see them again.

Thank goodness for smartphones and being able to communicate with staff members and my older children.  It warms my heart to get voice messages through whatsapp or to receive photos of the little ones learning new things.  Emilio has been sick lately with diarrhea but after a quick visit to the hospital and some antibiotics he is on the mend.  Norens also has not been himself lately, he is getting severe headaches and is having trouble seeing.  Norens constantly blinks.  I had taken him to an American doctor in Haiti who examined his eyes, we were told that he could see perfectly clear.  We were then referred to a neurologist who told us that Norens has a neurological problem that is causing his eyes to constantly blink.  We were told that we could send him to the US to undergo a surgical procedure to try and correct it, however, after hearing that the procedure would come with many risks and learning that his condition was actually was not harming Norens in anyway, we decided to not pursue that route.  Norens has been to the doctors again, and we are now waiting on more results.

The kids are all growing so much and getting so tall! We had friends recently visit the kids and check up on things and they were able to send me tons of photos :)





Fundraising has been tough lately.  Since March when I gave birth to my son, it has been difficult for me to keep up with social media and hosting fundraising events.  We have begun to fall behind on monthly expenses.  We are needing more child sponsors, more monthly donors, more volunteers, more help fundraising.. the list goes on.  Next month we will be opening up one of our board meetings to those who wish to learn more about Hime For Help and who have a desire to get involved with the work we do.  We would like to create a strong team to help with implementing fundraising ideas and growing our organization.  If you are interested in joining our committee please email me at emily@himeforhelp.org to find out more!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Four Years Later

Not so long ago (four years to be exact) I was living in the countryside of Haiti, spending my nights rocking babies and writing blogs with hopes and dreams for the future. 
Dreams of this crazy notion that maybe, just maybe, we could change even just one life, and give these children hope and a place where they could feel safe and loved. 
At first, I had no clue what kind of responsibility I was taking on.  Not only did I lack the funds to see this vision through, but I had never attempted to do ANYTHING of this magnitude ever before in my life. Despite all of the odds that were against me, and all of the obstacles that I knew would be ahead, there was a burning in my soul, something telling me that I needed to do this, and that if I simply walked away from these children, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
2012 began a journey that had no destination or end in sight.  I knew that I was where I was meant to be at that moment in time, but I had no idea where we would end up or how things would play out.  I didn't know how I would continue to care for these children that I had just committed to providing for.  This was not what I had envisioned when I first came to Haiti.  I never imagined myself doing this, I was never one who fantasized about starting a non-profit or a Children's Home, let alone in Haiti.  This was not in my plans.  
I was just someone who said 'yes'.  
With that 'yes' have come many challenges and hardships along the way.  I learned more lessons than I probably should have learned at the age of nineteen, but each lesson made me stronger and wiser.  I was naive, but that quickly began to diminish overtime.  Within the first few months I was exposed to corruption like I never could have imagined.  I was taken advantage of more times than I can count, by both people in our community as well as government officials.  It was discouraging and disheartening.  There were so many nights when I cried myself to sleep telling myself that I was done, that I was going home, that I couldn't do this... but then each morning I would wake up to these beautiful smiling children who forced me to realize that I could not simply just give up on them.   They depended on me now.  How could I walk away from children who had already been let down so many times before? Not only by people close to them, but by their society and their government.  How could I tell them that I wasn't strong enough to do this, when they were strong enough to survive through unimaginable struggles and trauma?... I couldn't.  They had already won over my heart, and with every bone in my body, I knew I would fight to keep them together and to provide for them the best that I could.  
Fast forward to four years later.  We are no longer living in the countryside in a small tiny home with no electricity, appliances, or furniture.  We have a nice large home in Port au Prince where we receive electricity occasionally, we have a fridge, stove, car, toy room, lots of bunk beds, furniture, our own desks, four bathrooms, an office, kitchen, table, and chairs! We no longer have just one nanny- we have multiple and we also have a nurse, cook, director, laundry ladies, janitor, security guard, social worker, etc.  Our kids attend great schools and even go to dance class.  Although we still struggle financially, and it is stressful trying to continuously fundraise, we make do with what we have.  Sometimes you don't even realize how much has been accomplished until you step away, sit back and reflect on the years gone by.  An overwhelming sensation just came over me thinking back to my first few months.  I went to Haiti with $500 in the bank and with no clue how to run a non-profit, let alone a home full of children! I could not have made it through without the support of so many generous people around the world.  So many people, people who I had never even met, contacted me on social media, donated money, sent words of encouragement, came to visit me and the kids, shared our story, and gave me reassurance that I could do this...YOU gave me the strength to keep going in my greatest moments of weakness.  I am so fortunate and so blessed to know so many incredible people.  I am forever grateful for each and every supporter that we have had over the years.  
Now, also four years later, instead of being in Haiti and rocking one of the babies in our home to sleep, I am back in Canada in my own home, rocking my newborn son to sleep.  These four years have been the best four years of my life.  So much has happened, so much is still happening, and I can't wait to sit back and reflect in another four years from now.  I can only hope that we can continue to improve the conditions in our home and continue to provide our children with more and more opportunities.  They are the future of Haiti.  They are going to "be the change".