Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Holiday Update !!

Well, it has been quite awhile since I have written a blog.  Lately I haven't had much to write about I guess. I look around at my life right now and it looks completely different then it did back in the summer months.  I am not as happy as I was then.  I am no longer living my dream.

Since I have returned home, I no longer get chased down by dozens of kids who want hugs and kisses.  I no longer wake up in the morning to the roosters or my little friends knocking on (or peeking under) my door.   I miss the food, the vibrant colours, the noise, riding on the back of Moto's, attempting to speak Creole and making a fool out of myself (such as saying Ou Manaje -you boyfriend -instead of saying Ou manje -you eat).  I often find myself in a daze, staring into space, reminiscing about my time spent in Haiti and thinking about the kids who have taken up such a huge part of my heart.  I miss it.. I miss them.   

It's Christmas time and everyone is running around buying gifts and food for their Christmas dinner's.  It is supposed to be a joyous time, but for me.. It is not.  All I can think about are my friends and babies back in Haiti who won't receive any gifts and who won't be sitting around the table with family for a nice Christmas feast.  They will be fortunate if they eat at all on Christmas day.  My heart is aching for them.  A lot of children and even adults are aware of Christmas, but have never experienced it. 

I have everything here- running water, electricity, unlimited access to food and resources, a stable structure over my head, and a soft bed to lay in at night.  But yet I feel empty.  I have come to a great realization, which I never would have came to if it wasn't for the Haitian people.  They taught me the meaning of life.  They showed me what true love is.  They have inspired me in so many ways.  I went there to help them, to give them whatever I possibly could, but instead, they helped me and they gave me more than I could have ever imagined.  Life isn't about materialistic things.  Life isn't about money.  Life is about love and helping one another - yes this sounds cheesy, but it couldn't be more accurate.  I spent months living a lifestyle people here in Canada would cringe at.  I had no electricity, no running water, no safe haven, and I didn't even have a bed.  I slept with cockroaches, lizards, and tarantulas.  Every day I sweat immensely, the dirt and dust stuck to me.  I ate one meal a day, usually chicken and rice or chicken and goat (the odd time I also ate street meet or baby food).   I was peed and pooped on numerous times by the children or babies that I was working with.  I listened as children told me that they were raped, beaten, or being used as slaves.  I had a woman hand me her child and asked me to take him back to Canada.  I witnessed heartache, I felt heartache, but yet.. I couldn't have been happier.  There was so much despair and devastation around me, I was living a lifestyle that people back home would view as dehumanizing, but none of that mattered.  I didn't even phase me while I was there.  I had enough to survive, I had the love of dozens of children who had lived their entire lives in these conditions.  Seeing my babies smile made my day.  I could escape this lifestyle, I could return home to luxury, these kids have no where else to go.  They are trapped, and most likely.. always will be.

Everyone always asks me how I did it, why I would chose to live like that or witness the things I have witnessed.  And once I tell them I want to go back, they shake their heads in disbelief.  But they don't understand.  They never will.  Until they themselves visit this amazing and inspiring country.  I cannot put it into words, I cannot make others understand.  I can only encourage each and every person to take a risk, to do something outrageous, to better themselves and to impact the lives of others by volunteering.  It is the most rewarding and life changing thing you could ever do. 

There are currently many violent riots taking place in Haiti due to compensation for Cholera.  Lawyers representing thousands of cholera victims in Haiti have threatened to take the United Nations to court in the United States, unless the international body responds to a petition for financial compensation.  The UN is being asked to pay $100,000 (£65,000) to the families of those who died and $50,000 (£32,500) to each of the people who fell sick but recovered. In addition there is a "class action" saying the UN should stop the cholera by rebuilding Haiti's decrepit water and sanitation infrastructure. If met in total, the claims could cost the international body many billions of dollars. Cholera is a disease that spreads through human waste and infected water.Victims can die within hours of the disease taking hold if they don't get treatment. The main symptom is catastrophic dehydration through diarrhoea and vomiting.

I have many decisions to make right now, some that may heavily impact my future.  I am stuck at a crossroad. But it has come the time for me to wake up and to start being happy again.  I need to revive my dreams and get my long lost positive attitude and outlook on life back. To do this, I think I need the help of my Haitian friends.  So.. I have decided that in the new year I will once again begin fundraising for Haiti and I will return to one of the places I now call home in May 2012.  I am already excited and anxious.  I will probably have my bags packed by the new year. 

One of my main priorities right now is helping out OREA Orphanage to get beds.  Since the earthquake, all of the orphans have been sleeping on the floor.  Not only are the cement floors extremely uncomfortable but it is also very unsanitary and has caused the children many illnesses.  It will cost $150 each and we are aiming to buy ten beds.

If you are interested in donating clothing, school supplies, medical supplies, money, or interested in sponsoring a child or volunteering please contact me at or visit my facebook page at

Thank you !

Friday, 2 September 2011

Hardest Goodbye

Goodbye, Au revoir, perfect examples of things being easier said than done.  I am currently feeling the same ache in my heart as I did when I returned home in June, maybe even worse.  Haiti has forever changed me and it will always be a place that I can call home.  I have had the most rewarding experiences this summer and I cannot wait to return once again.  In Haiti my dreams are awakened and I truly feel as if I am doing what I am meant to be doing and I am where I am meant to be.  The children (timoun) fill my heart with more joy and love than I have ever felt before.  Their smiles and laughs light up my days and even on my worst days, they can always turn it around and make them some of the best days.  Haitians are beautiful people.  Beautiful not only in the sense of physical appearance but as whole human beings.  They have known and witnessed suffering, struggle, defeat, and loss and have still had the courage to find their way out of the depths of darkness.  They have given me an appreciation, a sensitivity, and a new understanding of life.  The experiences and pain that they have endured has filled them (& myself as well) with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern for others and for the world.  I can truthfully say that the Haitian people have enabled me to better myself.  I have felt the pain of loss, I have seen the suffering and the pain that others endured.  I have watched gorgeous young girls, handsome young men, and beautiful babies and children be diagnosed with AIDS(SIDA).  I have watched babies die that could have easily been saved if they would have received the proper medical care.  I have seen and heard the stories of children being beat and raped.  I have looked into their eyes and have seen the pain and hurt that they feel.  My heart aches.  I long to stay here and help.  I cannot change the world, I cannot change Haiti, but if I can change one persons life, that is enough for me.  That is worth everything to me.  Woman have approached me and have begged me to take their children to Canada with me.  I have witnessed children literally bathing in trash and animal and human feces.  I could go on for hours about what I have witness during my time in Haiti, however, no one can truly understand until they come and emerge themselves into the culture and get to know the Haitian people.  Many of my experiences have been negative.  People ask how I cope.  They don't understand that how I cope is by helping these people, seeing them smile, giving them the love and attention that they crave and deserve.  I have also seen the most amazing things in Haiti as well.  Such as a child's desire to learn, people's appreciation for even the smallest gestures of kindness.   I have seen a side of Haiti that CNN will never show on the news.  I have visited the most beautiful homes in the mountains, the calmness of the countryside, and the breathtaking beaches and scenery.  I have witnessed starving people offer me their food, even though they want it and need it more than I do.  I have honestly witnessed the meaning and purpose of this life.  I have come to a new realization that I never would have been able to reach without visiting this remarkable country.  I have found peace here.  Some people would find that statement hard to believe if they stepped off of a plane into Port Au Prince.  The noise is nothing like you would have heard before, the traffic is crazy, the streets are packed with people, there is trouble and garbage everywhere.  The peace I am talking about comes from within.  It comes from my heart.  I have been able to find peace amongst all of the craziness in Haiti.  I love this country.
This last week has opened my eyes even more.  My experiences working in a different orphanage and at the We Advance Medical Clinic have definitely been rewarding.  We spent Saturday night at La Maison des Petits de Diquini Orphanage.  The orphanage has 25 children, most of them under the age of eleven.  Many of the kids have experience extreme trauma in their lives and it was interesting speaking with Phil (the owner of the orphanage) and his story from the day of the earthquake.  He grew up as a spoiled and rich kid, as his father was the ambassador in Haiti, Ecuador, and DC.  He has given up everything and has completely devoted himself to these children. He no longer lives in wealth and struggles daily to find the means to provide for these children.  Sunday morning we played with the kids and I brought them some bubbles and skipping ropes.  In the afternoon we headed back to OREA. 
I arrived at the medical clinic on Monday.  Pulling up to the clinic I thought to myself, nothing has changed at all.  There was still a group of children hanging around outside, we still had trash and cholera pits everywhere.  We still had the big pigs rolling in the muck and the medical domes.  But after spending a few days at the clinic I have noticed there has been a change.  The biggest change that I noticed was that the children have begun to share.  It is a remarkable turn around from when I visited in May.  They also do not fight as much or throw rocks at the animals (well we are still working on the last one).  I was able to communicate more with the children since I have been practicing my Creole.  The clinic is still crazy and is still seeing many patients.  There has also been many security issues at the clinic lately as well.  I witnessed a lot of pain and suffering during my stay at the clinic.  We had people that were HIV positive, we had malnourished and dehydrated babies, we had stab wounds, infections, scabies, worms coming out of childrens ears and eyes, we had people hit by cars, we had many STI's (especially in young girls), we had a lot of pregnant women, and many more cases.  The one case that really sticks out in my mind right now is a little baby who was 5 months old, he looked like a new born baby.  His skin had turned yellow and he was very lethargic.  The mother had no idea what was wrong with him. Finally we noticed that his hand was swollen and that he had a wound on the top of it.  We asked the mom if someone was beating him.  She tells us no and that he was bit by a rat.  Due to the lack of health education the mother had no idea that the baby could be in harm from the rat bite and that rats carry many diseases.  The baby had not had a tetnus or a rabies shot.  He is likely not going to make it because it has been left too long now. Something as simple as the baby being brought to the hospital after the bite to receive shots could have saved his life.  Wednesday was definitely the toughest days of all.  We definitely witnessed the most heartbreaking cases.  On Thursday we spent the morning with the kids blowing bubbles and colouring with sidewalk chalk.  Later in the afternoon Danel took Lindsay and I to hand out clothes, toys, food, and baby supplies to homeless people that beg at the old Cathedral.  The Cathedral had been ruined in the earthquake.  I cannot even put in words how incredible it was.  I connected with a young girl and her baby boy.  The girl was probably only 15 or 16.  She was the sweetest girl and so appreciative.  The baby boy was very malnourished but was full of smiles.  We drove around the streets and handed all of our donations out.  I spent the entire day yesterday thinking about my decision to return home. I am still not convinced that I have made the right choice and I know coming home is going to be very hard on me.  However, I am looking forward to returning to school, I know that I have to finish my degree.. and I can assure everyone, that once I have completed school I will return to Haiti on a long term bases.  (If I can last that long).  At the moment I feel numb.  I don't think it has hit me yet that I am coming home.  I already miss the kids hanging off my arms, the kisses on the cheek, hearing them whisper Je t'aime or I love you Emily.  I know I will miss putting them to bed tonight and Yvenson falling asleep in my arms.  I will miss Kerwensky and Djan Keith fighting over who is my "Mennaj" (boyfriend).  I will miss Isna and her absolute craziness and loud voice and Jenny and Kimberly for their big hugs and adorable smiles.  I will miss Soraya constantly going cross eyed and dancing and the funny voices she uses and her cute/shy smile every time she sees me in the morning.  I will miss Kerry and how he constantly wanted to be near me and kiss my hand, he is definitely a sweetheart.  I will miss Yvenson and being called Mama and LeeLee (he can't say Emily), as well as the quick kisses he sneaks and how he throws a temper tantrum every time I put him down, I will even miss his soaking wet shorts full of urine when he sits on me, and I will probably even miss the stench he left on me.  I will miss abaigaelle's adorable faces and how she can get away with anything because she knows she's cute.  I will miss Meetchgave and seeing her grow up (she now has teeth & can crawl).  I will miss the kids knocking on my door in the morning and try to peak through the crack to see if I am still asleep.  I will miss everything about Haiti.  My heart has been left there and until I return, I know I will not be whole.  I am currently sitting in the Miami airport and wishing that I could hop on a plane back to Haiti instead of to Detroit.
It is going to be a rough couple of weeks.. possibly months.  I am going to need my friends and family more than ever.
Mwen renmen ou Ayiti <3

Friday, 26 August 2011

MUCI & the Beach !

Well this week has definitely been one of the busiest.  Wednesday we spent the day with Danel Georges and visited some of the kitchens of Cuisine Solidarite who feed street children.  It is definitely an eye opener to see the way people are living.  We take so much for granted and do not even realize it.  It was raining most of the day and the streets began to flood.  We drove by many tent cities and many homeless people on the streets.  There was one man that stuck out.  He was completely covered in mud and sitting on the side of the road,he is homeless.  As much as we wanted to take a photo we decided not to in respect to the man but Danel insisted that we do.  We were a little nervous at first as most people here do not like their pictures taken.  However, this man smiled for us.  It breaks my hear that people have to live like this.  We came to the old cathedral that was destroyed in the earthquake.  Many people/children go there to beg.  We stopped and I handed out some of the baby clothes I had brought with me.  However, it drew quite a big crowd so we couldn't stay long.  We also visited one of MUCI's credit unions where they loan out money to people wishing to start small businesses.  Later we went to visit another orphanage that Danel's cousin Phil owns.  He has 26 children and they are all so cute.  His orphanage is a lot different than the one we are currently working at.  The living conditions are not as good but they do receive lots of love- which is one of the key components in running an orphanage.  We were exhausted by the time we got back to OREA.  We spent the rest of the evening with the kids and then relaxed in our room.  Lindsay ended up getting very sick as well and spent Thursday morning throwing up.  We took the kids to the beach that day and it is an hour ride.  Lindsay still decided to come.. we stopped a few times for her to get sick but she stuck it out.  When we arrived at the beach the kids all changed into their bathing suits and hopped in the water.  They were a lot braver this time then last.  Due to the frequent storms there were many jellyfish floating in the water.  We collected 14 and let them fry in the sun.  On our way back to the orphanage most of the kids slept in the tap tap, they were exhausted !  So were Lindsay and I.  Today has been a quiet day as Lindsay and I are still not feeling 100%.  We hung out with the kids and are now getting ready for bed.  Tomorrow morning Danel is picking us up and bringing us to the Orphanage we visited on Wednesday where we will be spending the night.  We were supposed to go to Cite Soliel this weekend but have decided to from Monday-Wednesday instead.  We will be working in We Advance Medical Clinic.  I am really looking forward to it.  Well I am currently sitting outside so I can get a wireless signal but a storm is rolling in and it has started to rain so this is all I can write for now.  I just finished saying goodnight to the kids.. I am sure going to miss all of their kisses and hearing them say "Je t'aime Emily".  Saying goodnight is my favourite part of the day.  Missing everyone back home.  See you all in a week ! xoxo

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Happy 6th Birthday Isna!

The last few days have been a blast with the kids as well as exhausting.  They sure keep you busy ! We picked up Lindsay from the Airport on Saturday.  On Sunday Lindsay & I went to the market with Jean's sister and bought the kids an inflatable swimming pool. Yesterday we set up the pool and filled it with buckets of water.  The kids literally spent the entire day in it.  The pool is pretty small and normally would fit two young kids, they managed to fit all of them in it.  As we were playing outside we noticed some young boys staring through the crack in the gate and watching the kids in the pool. I felt terrible.  We went upstairs and got some Frisbees and candy to give them.  They were so excited and tried to give the frisbee back to Lindsay and could not believe that they were actually aloud to keep them.  Yesterday was also Isna's 6th birthday.  She wore her best clothes and had her hair done, she looked adorable.  We took her to the supermarket with us and told her to pick out two toys.  On the way to the supermarket we were walking down a steep hill and somehow I managed to slip and slide half way down it while holding Isna.  I really hurt my foot, although Lindsay and I were both in tears laughing since Jean had just warned us to be careful since it was slippery. Not only did I fall, but it was in front of a street full of people.  Isna had never been in a supermarket before and everything she saw she wanted.  I have never seen her so excited.  We asked her if she wanted juice and she said yes.. two minutes later she goes and grabs a protein shake and puts back the juice.  She kept trying to open everything in the store and didn't understand why she couldn't. We ended up buying her a lot of treats as, including a tub of ice cream. We bought some plastic spoons and sat outside the market and ate it all before going back to the orphanage.  She drank her protein shake within one minute.  Lindsay and I could not believe it.  On our way back to the orphanage were in the process of getting on a tap tap and the driver did not realize that we were trying to get on.  Jean handed Isna up to one of the guys on the tap tap and then he took off with her and without us.  Luckily it ended up stopping and we were able to get on.  When we got back to the orphanage she hung out in our room and we opened up her doll and her new toys.  We played some music and danced and she stuffed her face with Doritos, brownies, pringles, combos, and star-bursts.  Later into the evening we had another visitor in our room.  Yvenson who is 2 years old. We also spoiled him with treats. I let him have the rest of my Gatorade which was a mistake because he ended up peeing all over my mattress and all over me as I was trying to carry him to the toilet.  The worst part is, he is still wearing the same clothes he peed in yesterday, today.  Most of the kids wear the same clothes for three days in a row, no matter how dirty or smelly they are.  Last night they watched Night at the Museum on the laptop before bed.  Soraya knocked on our door and came and cuddled with us and listened to music instead of watching the movie.  She had a rough day.  She is six years old and watched her parents be crushed in the earthquake.  She is traumatized so she has her days where she just stares at the ground and will not say a word.  The kids also tend to tease her a lot.  It breaks my heart.  She is the sweetest and most beautiful little girl.  I wish I could bring her home with me. 
I have been sick for the last six days and have been very dehydrated.  I have not made it to the hospital yet but if it persists than I will have to go soon to get checked out.  I am feeling very weak and constantly feel nauseas and have a pounding headache, it makes it difficult in the heat and it also makes it hard to play with the kids. Today we did some colouring and I brought out my ipod and we all danced, the kids love the song "Teach me how to Dougie", they know all the words.  We will be taking the kids to the beach on Thursday and we will be visiting We Advance Medical Clinic in Cite Soliel this weekend.  I am looking forward to doing another wash day and seeing Maeve and the crew !
It appears that we have another hurricane on the way.. The sky is dark and it is very windy but we haven't had much of  a storm yet.  Hopefully it misses us again !
Missing everyone back home.  Send my love xoxo

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Everything in-between

                                                                        RIP Baby Boy
Well, I guess there is a lot of catching up to do.  I apologize for not blogging recently. 
I spent August 1st- 5th with a group of thirteen volunteers from Chico, California, running a day camp at HC Orphanage for the children.  We had a blast.  Everyday we did different activities from sports (such as soccer and basketball), to crafts, to dancing and singing, and we even hosted a carnival where the kids recieved toys and candy.  All of the thirteen volunteers worked hard and were all very kind.  I have definitely made a few new friends !  Every morning I would get a ride to the hospital with Dr. Gousse and spend an hour there and then take the hospital bus to the guest house to pick up the other volunteers then we would head to the orphanage.  One morning on our way to the hospital the Dr. and I got stuck in the middle of a street fight/riot.  Huge rocks were being thrown at women and men, fruit stands were being destroyed, the street was literally going crazy.  I am not exactly sure what caused it, but yes we were stuck in the dead middle of it.  Thank God we were in a vehicle and not walking.  Dr. Gousse was freaking out because these huge rocks were now heading towards her beautiful car ! A man stopped and guided us through the street.  We were able to get out without a mark.  I must say it was a scary experience.  I was just waiting for someone to smash the windows. 
I also met a girl named Kayla from Alberta during my time at HC Orphanage.  She was visiting Haiti for ten days and was actually adopted from Haiti.  I met her on her second last day and we talked quite a bit about Haiti and our experiences.  She hadn't been able to do much sight seeing so I promised her that the next day I would somehow arrange for us to go up to the mountains for lunch and to do some shopping (locals have huts set up along the road where they sell Haitian art, including paintings and woodcarvings, and anything else you could possibly think of).  I asked around to see if anyone knew of a driver that we could hire.  No one did.  Luckily that night I was driving with Dr. Gousse and she stopped to give her Salsa dancer a ride.  He overheard us talking about finding a driver to the mountains so he called up one of his friends.  He couldn't get a hold of him so he offered to tag along and come to the mountains with us, that way we could just take tap taps since he knew the way and it would be cheaper than hiring a driver.  Kayla and I went to the day camp in the morning and left around noon to meet the dance teacher at the Hospital.  We did a lot of walking and took many tap taps to get up to the mountains.  Finally we arrived !!! We both bought a book that teaches English people to speak Creole from the gift shop.  Its a life saver !  We all ate lunch and it was gorgeous, the restraunt overlooks the mountain.  We did some shopping and then headed back around 4pm.  While we were in the mountains is started to get windy and began to rain.  Hurricane "Emily" was on her way.  We were hoping we would get home in time before she hit.  We took another tap tap down the mountain and by the time we got to the bottom it was raining pretty hard.  In Haiti when it rains the streets become crazy, everyone is trying to get into tap taps or on motos.  We were soaked and I, of course, was covered in mud.  We came to the Tap Tap station and it was absolute chaos.  People were literally stamepeding over one another to get into the tap taps.  One lady was trampeled and no one stopped to help her up.  Another man was robbed while trying to get onto the tap tap and a fight broke out in the streets.  I imagine we looked like deer in the headlights when all of this was occuring.  I had no idea what to do or how the heck we were going to find a tap tap.  We decided to keep walking and hopefully find a tap tap down the road.  Thankfully we did.  Although Kayla had to sit on my lap for most of the ride.  Our adventure wasn't over yet though, not only were we tired, soaking wet, covered in mud, and sore from sitting in the tap tap for so long, but then the driver decides to stop for gas.  The gas station is full so we sat and waited for twenty minutes.  The driver finally becomes impatient and leaves.  We are nearing the hospital and of course our tap tap runs out of gas.  Well.. we did eventually make it to the hospital where Kayla's ride was waiting.  We had a great day, but I was definitely glad to be home.  Hurricane "Emily" was estimated to hit around 2am that morning.  We had quite the storm but it was definitely not as bad asth they were expecting.  However, we have had storms almost every night since, which probably makes up for the big storm. 
After working at the orphanage one day, I was at the hospital and sitting in Rigan's office.  He brought in a young girl (12 years old) who had just had surgery on her knee and was having her staples removed that day.  She was a funny girl and had lots of questions for me so we spoke back and forth and Rigan was our translator.  She asked my what I was doing in Haiti and I told her volunteering.  She then asked a very unexpected question.  She said "Do your friends and family beat you back home?" I was shocked by her question.  I told her no and that it is illegal in Canada for people to beat up other people. She then asked why I would come to Haiti then.  She said "they will beat you here".  We continued our conversation and that little girl honestly broke my heart.  I wish I could take her home with me.  I stayed with her while she got her stitches removed and held her hand.  She was scared but by the time the staples were out she hadn't even realized that Rigan had begun removing them.  I will never forget that girl. 
I spent August 5th in Leogange, and 6th-7th in Jacmel with Mark (Hospital Espoir volunteer from Conneticut) and Rigan.  When we got to Leogane Friday evening, we took motos and went out for dinner.  It was Mark's first time being on a moto.  Dinner was great and we had a lot of laughs.  When we got back to Rigans we played a few games of yahtzee and UNO then headed to bed.  We were planning on only spending Sunday in Jacmel but Mark has asked us if we would like to go up Saturday instead and rent a hotel.  We decided to do that.  Saturday morning we began packing our things.  We had no idea how we were going to get to Jacmel or where we were going to stay.  I recommended that we take motos.  Rigan wasn't so fond on the idea as most people in Haiti only take a moto as a last resort since they are known to be somewhat dangerous.   But of course we took them.   I also didn't know that it would be a two hour ride.  Although my butt and back were killing me by the time we got there I was sure glad we took them.  It was a hot day so it was nice to feel a breeze and we drove 2 hours through mountains and small villages, it was breath taking.  The scenery is literally indescripable, pictures wouldn't even do it justice.  We rented two motos.  Mark had one moto + his driver and on the other moto there was the driver, Rigan, myself + our two backpacks.  We arrived in Jacmel around 2pm and drove down one of the main roads until we came to a sign advertising a hotel.  We drove down the sidestreet and arrived at large white gates.  Mark and I were skeptical at first because the place looked deserted.  However, we toured around and the hotel was absolutely gorgeous !! The hotel is located in a cove with a private beach, restraunt, swimming pool, and bar.  Our room was simple but it had running water, electrcity and even air conditioning.  Also our room came with a cute little baby lizard who I named and fed (however he didn't last long, Rigan "accidently" killed him and I found a nice present underneath my pillow, the boys thought it was pretty funny.. I on the other hand did not :( )We could not believe we were still in Haiti.  It was like paradise.  We had a very relaxing afternoon.  We spent most of the day on the beach and in the pool.  We had dinner and some drinks and then decided to go out on the town and tour Jacmel.  We left the hotel around 9:30 and found two motos.  We got dropped off in the middle of town and did some walking.  We had no idea where we were going or where the nightlife hung out.  We ended up asking a group of girls and they told us to just walk towards the beach and follow the sound of the music.  It was neat walking through Jacmel.  A man stopped us on the street and wanted us to take a look at his drawings.  He spoke Engish very well.  I took a quick look just to be nice, but was not interested.  He kept persisting that I keep looking, Rigan became annoyed and him and the man got into a heated arguement.  Which was actually quite entertaining because instead of arguing in Creole they argued in Enlgish, but both only knew a few bad things to say to each other.  We kept walking and finally came to the nightclub.  The beach was completely covered in garbage, which is a shame, because if it wasn't for all the trash it would be a beautiful beach.  The nightclub was pretty busy, there were quite a few couples, and salsa dancing was the main attraction.  I could not believe the amount of people up dancing, and they were all very good! We were having a great night until Rigan recieved a phone call from the hospital.  The premie baby boy, which I had fallen in love with, passed away.  It hit me really hard.  The last time I saw him he seemed to be improving and gaining weight.  It broke my heart.  I felt horrible for spending the weeked at a nice hotel when he passed away.
We headed back to the hotel.  In the morning we receieved free breakfast and lounged around until eleven.  We went to the Tap Tap station and found a Tap Tap to take us back to Leogane.  We had lunch there and I grabbed the rest of my things from Rigans house then took a bus back to Port Au Prince.  When we arrived in Port Au Prince we went straight to the hospital. We stayed there for a few hours and then went to the guest house.  I was staying at the guest house that night since I was leaving for the Dominican in the morning and Rigan was going to arrange a ride to the bus station for me.  We had dinner and then hung out with the volunteers from California since it was there last night as well as Mark's.  In the morning I got up and got ready.  We all said our goodbyes and then I headed to the bus station on a Moto, I was almost late for my bus.  The bus ride was long and the border was absolutely crazy.  I can't even describe it to you, but it is not like any normal border.  We were running behind scheduel and didn't make it to Santo Domingo until about 7pm (we were supposed to arrive at four).  It is amazing to believe that Haiti and the Dominican Republic are on the same Island.  They are complete opposites.  Santo Domingo had shopping centers, McDonalds, Burger king, and speed limits !!! There were quite a few nice resorts.  I spent 6 days in the Dominican and relaxed.  I was glad I went, I caught up on some much needed sleep and beaches were beautiful.  I left the Dominican on the 13th and headed back to Haiti.  The bus was not as nice as the last one I rode in but we did make it for better timing.  I had no idea how I was going to get home from the bus station in Tabare though.  I had not made arrangements for a ride.  Luckily there was a man on the bus that could speak English and he helped me find a moto and told the moto where I needed to go.  However, there must have been some miscommunication because the driver tried to drop me off in the middle of nowhere.  I refused to get off the moto and became frustrated because I could not speak Creole and he could not understand English.  Once again I got lucky and right in front of where he dropped me off I noticed an organization for Scientology volunteers.  I knocked on the door and and spoke with one of the employees who could understand English.  I told him that I need to go to Hospital Espoir.  He knew where it was and explained to the driver how to get there.  It took us awhile and we got lost once but I finally arrived safely.  I was hoping that Dr. Gousse would be at the hospital or atleast I could call her from there.  It was my lucky day.  She was still there.  I was glad to be back at her house after a long day of traveling.  The next day we did not go to work.  Dr. Gousse had to go to Jacmel and plan the funeral for her Aunt who had just passed away.  I spent the day reading, and relaxing and then came to the conclusion that I would come home early and go back to University.  I miss school, and I never thought I would say that. I have been homesick for the first time as well.  And there have also been some complications/issues with one of the employees at the hospital so I arranged for me to leave the next day and return to OREA Orphanage (where I volunteered on my previous trip).  The same day I registered for classes and paid the tuition and also booked my flight home.  I will be returning on September 2nd.  Tuesday morning I packed up luggage and got a ride to the hospital with Dr. Gousse.  Jean picked me up from the hospital at eleven thirty.  It was such a relief to see him.  The orphanage had moved buildings since the last time I volunteered so I was unsure what the conditions would be like.  I could not believe it when I got there.  They now have a huge Orphanage with lots of rooms, kitchen, running water, and an area for the kids to play outside.  I was so happy to see all of the kids again, I couldn't believe how much I missed them.  Jean and his wife are fabulous.  I felt like I was at home when I arrived.  I have noticed some of the kids have lost quite a bit of weight but their living conditions have definitely improved.  We have spent the last few days making crafts (such as paper airplanes which was a blast!), colouring, playing sports (soccer & basketball- we made a makeshift net), blowing bubbles, and watching movies on the lap top.  I already am dreading the day tha I have to say goodbye to them again.  I will be spending my next two weeks here.  The kids are definitely keeping me busy.  I have been sick for the last couple of days, but the worst was last night.  I could not stop vomitting and spent the night with my head in a bucket and on the toilet and did not sleep at all.  I have thrown up 13 times since last night.  I am supposed to go to the airport at one today to pick up Lindsay but I am unsure if I will be able to go.  I have not been able to keep any food down and I am also running a fever.  If I am not better by tomorrow I will have to go to the hospital.  I am really hoping it is just from something I ate.  I am looking forward to seeing Lindsay and as well as returning home and going back to school.  I will miss Haiti and the kids but I think it is what I need to do.  I have been thinking about Caleb a lot lately and missing him like crazy. Always & forever in my heart.  RIP big guy. 

Monday, 1 August 2011

Motos, Kenèp , & Craziness.

Well I have now been in Haiti for a week and 3 days, seems like much longer than that.  I guess I have a lot to update you on.  I apologize for not posting a blog lately but I have been busy during the days and at night I am completely exhausted.  On the weekends I do not have internet access in Leogane.  It has been crazy, but I am loving it.  I spent most of last week at the hospital with Dr. Gousse & Rigan.  I of course spent most of my time with the babies.  I could stay there all day & night and watch them.  I worry about them a lot.  The smallest little guy weighed 800 grams the last time I weighed him.  I took temperatures and fixed oxygen tubes that the babies kept ripping out of their noses.  My favourite part of being there is watching them open their eyes and move around.  This week was the first time I heard the smallest one make any noises.  So cute.  The other little boy is doing well, I think he will be going home soon.  On Thursday his mom was there breast feeding him, it seemed to be going well.  I also spent one day assisting Rigan in the ER.  I learned a lot of new things and really enjoyed it.  We had a Tap Tap driver come in with a wound on his arm.  He was stabbed by a child because he would not give him money.  His arm was bleeding pretty bad, he needed stitches and he was very dizzy.  I felt dizzy as well, I do not handle blood well.  On Tuesday, Rigan and I stayed at the hospital a little longer than usual and then went to the supermarket to buy groceries.  We went back to the guest house and cooked dinner.  We made pasta.  One of Rigan's dogs just had puppies, they are adorable but the mom will kill anyone who tries to touch them.  After dinner we took a moto back to Dr. Gousse's house.  It was a long, bumpy, and rainy ride.  It was scary going up the mountains.  We got stuck a few times and Rigan and I had to get off so the driver could get out of the pot hole or up the hill.  We also got lost a few times and had to call Dr. Gousse.  Although it is terrifying at times, I love moto rides now ! I think I enjoy the adrenaline rush you get when the driver squeezes between two cars or when you have a car coming head on that is an inch away from you and swerves at the last moment, or maybe when you hit the pot holes or cracks in the road and have to hang on for dear life.  I think I would feel a lot safer though if helmets were provided.  Wednesday I spent the day at the hospital and spent the night doing computer work for Dr. Gousse.  I had to make spread sheets and enter every childs name, age, and birthdate, who attended the orphanages and schools.  There was over 500 kids.  I was up until midnight finishing the work, but I actually enjoyed doing it.  I learned a lot of names that way ! Thursday I spent the day at Rainbow of Love Orphanage & Hope Home.  In the morning I went to the hospital and met up with Evelyn who is working at Rainbow of Love Orphanage.  She is from Belgium and will be staying in Haiti for six months.  We went to the orphanage together.  The orphanage has 56 kids, all under the age of ten.  We played with the children and coloured with them.  Of course the kids, especially the boys, went crazy with my camera again.  After hanging out there I headed over to Hope Home which houses 20 handicap children.  I had a blast with them. I made necklaces with a few of the girls and then we coloured.  At lunch time I helped feed all of the children, it is a big chore, and quite difficult because some of them do not want to eat and others are unaware of what is going on and you have to force the food into their mouths, I felt bad.  Many of the kids had been sitting in soiled clothes all day, no one had changed them.  It was heartbreaking but also so rewarding at the same time. Being able to make them smile was the best feeling in the world.  I fell in love with all of the kids.  The youngest one at Hope Hope is a baby girl.  She is probably about 7 months old and is mute and blind.  She is cute as button!  Many of the children were injured in the earthquake and are now in wheelchairs, others have been neglected by their parents due to their disabilities.  After spending the day with all of the children I headed back to the hospital to meet up with Rigan.  Evelyn and I had to walk thirty minutes up hill in the scorching heat to the Tap Tap station.  It was torture.  I was so dehydrated by the time I got back to the hospital and was drenched in sweat.  After cooling off and drinking some water I went back to have one last visit with the babies before I headed to Leogane for the weekend.  Rigan and I left around four.  The traffic was absolutely crazy !!! We didn't end up arriving in Leogane until seven, so it was pitch black out.  We walked to Rigans house to drop off our bags and then took a moto to the "Pretty Lady" for dinner again.  I was sick Thursday night and Friday with stomach pains, fever, and I also think I was very dehydrated.  Friday morning Rigan hired a few guys to help him start fixing up the house.  They tore down a wall in the bathroom to make the shower larger, fixed the door so it would close, put screens on the windows, painted and fixed the toilet.  They got a lot done in one weekend !!! I spent the morning with baby Howard.  He is approx 5 months old and all smiles.  He was very hungry so I fed him some cheese.. it was hilarious ! He was covered in it by the time he was done and he bit my finger a few times.  I had also brought along a few infant outfits with me to give away.  One of them ended up fitting him.  In the afternoon I went to the bank with Rigan and then to the market to find myself some running shoes (since I forgot mine at home) and a soccer ball for the kids.  I also ended up buying an inflatable pool but was unable to use it this weekend since we didn't have a pump.  On the way home from the market we stopped so I could buy a local phone.  It only cost me $20 US.  We also stopped for lunch and while Rigan was ordering food I hung out with a few street children.  I gave them money in exchange for taking their photos.  I do not think any of them had seen a camera before.  Friday night I called home.  It is great to finally be able to do that !  If anyone wishes to call my number is 011-509-4640-5127 :) Saturday morning the guys were still working on the house so Rigan dropped me off at a local orphanage owned by a Canadian woman named Jasmine.  It is definitely a makeshift orphanage, they are not living in a proper building and they are still using tents.  She has over 50 kids. I was in heaven !!! There were so many little babies.  I spent almost my entire day in the nursery with the babies.  It was crazy !! At one point I was feeding three babies at once.  It seemed like every time I got one to stop crying or to fall asleep another would start crying or wake up.  Many of the children have been adopted, but she has new babies arriving all of the time.  Jasmine told me that I am welcome to visit whenever I would like, I am really looking forward to going back to visit and possibly staying with them for a few days.  I definitely developed a new addiction this weekend to a Haitian fruit called Kenèp.  The fruit comes in small berries the size of a golfball, with a peel that you bite off.  The inside contains a sweet, sticky, fruit that wraps around a hard pit.  It is more like candy or a snack, you will see many kids on the streets eating them.  Sunday morning afternoon we headed back to Port Au Prince.  We ended up going straight to the hospital and left around eight to take me home to Dr. Gousse's house.  Once again we took a moto up the mountains, got lost once or twice, but eventually found our way.  When I got home I hung out with Vicki and Ashley for a bit and they came up to my "apartment" and we made necklaces and watched a movie on my lap top.  I have not been sleeping well lately and find myself to be very exhausted, especially after long, hot, crazy days like today.  I arrived at the hospital at eight this morning and was picked up at nine thirty from Nadal who drove me to the guest house.  I spent the day at HC Orphanage assisting with running a day camp for over 100 children.  We picked up a group of 13 volunteers who had just arrived from California.  We had a blast today playing soccer with the kids, doing crafts, dancing, singing, skipping, etc.  However, it was VERY hot out and by the time Nadal arrived to pick us back up we were all drenched with sweat and exhausted.  I will be working at the orphanage all week, we will be doing different activities everyday.  I arrived back at the hospital around three and was ready for bed ! We got back to Dr. Gousse's around five thirty, ate dinner, I planned with the girls, and now relaxing.  It will be an early night for me as I am sure it will be a long & hot day tomorrow as well.  There is news that we have a hurricane on the way.. how ironic.. it is named "Hurricane Emily"... It is supposed to hit by Wednesday.  I am praying for those still living in tents and hoping that they can stay safe and also find a way to secure their belongings.  There is also another big cholera outbreak in the north.  The rain from the storm will likely spark many new cases.  I have a feeling the hospital will be busy for the next few weeks !  I am heading to the dominican republic on monday for 6 days.. It will be a much needed break from business.. hopefully I will be able to get some sleep finally.  I am loving what I am doing and enjoying spending time with the kids, but things have definitely been overwhelming and my experience is a lot different than the last one, it will take some time to adjust to things! Hope everything is going well back home, miss you all xoxo

Monday, 25 July 2011

Weekend in Leogane

Friday night we finished at the hospital around 8:30.  We took a Moto back to the guest house. It was my first time riding a Moto in Haiti.  I was scared at first due to the conditions of the road, the darkness, and the crazy Haitian drivers but I ended up having a blast !  When we got back to the guest house we had dinner.  We had chicken, liver, plantain, and rice.  After dinner Rigan and I went up to the roof of the house to enjoy the view of the mountains and the stars.  When we got back inside I went to get my clothes to change and when I put my hand in the bag I was bit by something.  I noticed a pile of aunts surrounding my bag.  I looked inside and it was full of ants, including all of my clothes.  The ants had even chewed a hole through my bag.  We spent about an hour going through my bag and getting all of the ants out of my clothes.  I can't even tell you how many ants we killed, the floor was covered in them.
Although I was exhausted, I had trouble sleeping.  I could not stop thinking about the two little babies at the hospital and wondering if they would make it through the night.  Thankfully they did. 
We were up and ready to go by 8 am.  We went for breakfast at Epi Dor which is a very nice restaurant.  There were quite a few "blancs" there which was unusual to see.  We had Crepes.  After breakfast we met up with Dr. Gousse and her daughter.  She is a very nice lady and I am looking forward to my stay with her.  Rigan and I then walked back towards the hospital where we found a tap tap.  We had to take two tap taps to get to the bus station.  I was very tired and was finding it hard to stay awake.  I drifted off a few times.  When we got to the bus station we took the "Obama" bus to Leogane.  It usually only takes 45 mins from Port Au Prince but due to traffic it took us two hours.  It was a beautiful drive along the water.  When we arrived in Leogane the first things I noticed was how green it was and all of the small villages.  It reminded me a lot of Ghana.  After getting off of the bus we walked through the earthquake ravished town.  Rigan pointed out where things used to be and what the land was used for before the earthquake.  He showed me where his old highschool used to be, there are only bleachers remaining and it is now being used as a tent city.  After walking for about ten minutes in the scorching heat we decided to take a Moto (thank God). We finally arrived at Rigan's house and I was introduced to some of his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.  They are all living on the same property but they are too afraid to stay inside the cement house because they are worried that another earthquake may hit.  They live in the backward in wooden huts with tarps over them.  Rigan is the only one brave enough to stay in the house.  You can see all of the cracks from when the earthquake hit but a group of NGO's had offered to fix the cracks for Rigan.  There is nothing left inside the house except Rigan's dresser, air matress, fan, and some of his clothes because when the earthquake hit it took off the door and people came in and stole his family's belongings.  I was exhausted when we arrived so I decided to take a nap.  After napping Rigan bought us some food from a street vendor.  We had pork & plantain and for desert we had corn and canep (type of Haitian fruit).  It began to rain in the afternoon.  One of Rigan's younger brothers had asked to borrow the soccer ball because he and some friends wanted to play a game in the new field that they had created.  I asked Rigan if we could go play with them.  On our way to the field we walked through some small villages then took a Moto to the field.  The field is located in the middle of a voodoo village where Rigan's birth mother is from.  The village is very poor, most of the children had never been to school, and the soccer field.. well.. if no one had told me it was a soccer field, I never would have known.  When we arrived there the boys were in the process of cutting down palm trees with machetes to use them as goal posts.  They tied string at the tops to show where the net was.  They are very creative.  The younger boys were shy at first but by the end of the night I could not get them off of me.  I let them play with my phone and my camera, they took over 200 pictures and were laughing the entire time.  One little boy- probably about 3 came and sat on my lap.  He was all by himself and had just wandered off from the village.  He fell asleep in my arms and his mom ended up coming to get him and she would not stop thanking me.  She sat and talked to me for awhile (while at least we attempted to talk- luckily one of the little boys helped to translate).  In the middle of the field there were 3 horses, so of course, the field was covered in horse waste.  I had a lot of fun playing with the boys and was sad to leave them.  We walked through their village and stopped at a little hut made of tin.  Inside they had set up cables and a TV, it was there movie theatre.  It was very interesting to see.  I sat and watched with them for awhile while Rigan tried to find us a Moto to take back home.  When we got home we changed and then left again for dinner.  It was pitch black out by then and I had never traveled anywhere in Haiti after dark.  I was a little concerned, but of course everything went fine.  We went to a restaurant called "Pretty Lady" it was an outside restaurant and very nice. The food was good as well.  When we were finished eating we went to Rigan's brothers nightclub where the All Hands Volunteers are stationed, they camp on the top of it.  We sat and had a beer with Rigan's brother and his children.  His children live in the states so it was fun talking with them !  We left the nightclub around 10:30 and took another Moto back to Rigan's house.  I took a bucket shower then headed to bed. I slept very well that night.
We woke up around 6:30 and I was covered in bug bites.  I had forgotten to pack bug spray as well as sunscreen and running shoes.  I took another bucket shower and got ready.  We had soup for breakfast, it is a famous dish in Haiti and is eaten on new years.  It is supposed to be very good for you.  I was skeptical at first but it was delicious.  We left the house around 8 and went back to the bus station.  On the ride home the traffic was not as bad and our driver drove very fast !!! Luckily there are no speed limits in Haiti.  When we got to Port Au Prince we went back to Epi-dor restaurant for lunch.  Dr. Gousse met us there with her two daughters and niece to take me to her house.  Rigan decided to come along.  She lives in Petion-ville which is up in the mountains, it is a nice area.  The roads were crazy, and we were flying everywhere.  We finally arrived at her house and I could not believe my eyes ! It is the nicest house I have seen in Haiti.  My apartment is separate from the house and is also very nice.  I have two beds, a couch, bathroom, air conditioning, and internet.  It is completely different from my last experience in Haiti, it will take some adjusting.  Her daughter Ashley is 7 and can speak very good english as well as her niece Vicki who is 5.  Vicki lives in Miami and is just here on vacation.  After unpacking I took a nap.  I woke up around 3 and then ate dinner.  Ashley and Vicki wanted me to play with them.  They came and hung out with me in my apartment and went nuts with my camera and ipod.  Later in the evening I hung out with the older daughter and her older niece who are my age.  I tried teaching them english and they attempted to teach me french.  We watched TV and then I went to bed.  I very tired once again.
I slept well last night and woke up at six this morning to get ready for work.  We left the house around 8 and picked up another doctor then went to Rigan's guest house to grab my luggage.  We arrived at the hospital around 9.  I was introduced to Gladys who runs the hospital, orphanage, and school.  We hung out in Doctor Gousse's office and then Rigan took me to see my babies ! I was so excited to see them :).  Around eleven I left with Doctor Gousse to visit three different orphanages.  First we stopped at Hope Home which orphans physically and mentally disabled children.  I did not get to stay for long, only enough time to say hi to the kids.  We then went over to The Village Orphanage.  It has 54 children !! I couldn't believe the number of little kids running around.  They were so cute and some of them know some English.  After getting a tour and saying hi we left to go to an orphanage located outside of Cite Soliel.  Doctor Gousse had to give the children check ups.  The orphanage is pretty big and has quite a few children.  This orphanage has older kids, up to the age of twenty.  I was given a tour of the orphanage then sat with some of the girls and watched Freedom Writers.  We were there until about one thirty.  I will be coming back to all three of the orphanages often.  Tomorrow I am spending the day at the Village and at Hope Home.
Tonight has been a quiet and relaxing night.  I just received my luggage today from the guest house so I am finishing unpacking. 
I am glad to be back in Haiti and I am looking forward to working everyday.  I will be visiting OREA Orphanage soon, I really miss the kids !
Thinking of everyone back home & miss you.  xoxo

Friday, 22 July 2011

& The Journey Begins

After a heart breaking goodbye to my loved ones back home, I have finally arrived in Haiti.  At first I was unsure of if I was ready to return to Haiti just yet, but as soon as I saw the beautiful Island from the plane, I smiled and when the airplane wheels hit the Haitian soil, I felt a sense of belonging. I was greeted with craziness and a wave of heat.  My flight was two hours delayed due to problems at the airport, we were unable to land, so instead we flew around Cuba and Dominican Republic.  When I arrived at the airport I could not believe the mass amount of people.  It was definitely a different experience from my first arival in PAP.  The line up for immagration was huge !!! I finally retrieved my baggage and headed towards the gates to meet Rigan (hoping that he was still there).  Thankfully he was.  We had to wait for a driver so we found some shade and some water.  Driving through Port Au Prince brought back memories of my last trip. I can't believe how much I missed the crazy driving, the streets filled with people, and the horrible roads.  It made me smile. Although my heart is aching and missing those back home, I know that this is where I need to be right now.  I am staying with Rigan tonight and we are leaving for Leogane (his home town) tomorrow morning.  The guest house is absolutely beautiful and even has running water and electricity.  I couldn't believe it.  Rigan and I hung out there for a bit to cool off and then we headed up to Hospital Espoir.  It is about a ten minute walk from the guest house.  When we arrived we visited all of the patients in the hospital.  Then we got on our gear and headed to the premie room.  There were three premature babies today, however, one did not make it :(... The other two are also having complications, it will be a miracle if the little boy survives.  He is so tiny and skinny, but so adorable especially when I touched his hand and he opened his eyes and looked up at me. Brought me to tears.  The little girl is doing okay, although tonight she is having problems breathing and has a fever, she is also very tiny and so adorable.  I spent most of the night with these little ones.  I don't know how I am going to go home and sleep tonight.  Please pray for them.  I am still at the hospital now and I am completely exhausted.  Rigan just left on the motorbike to grab us some food.  It has been a long and emotional day.  I do not have internet at the guest house, so I will only be able to update when I am at the hospital.  Hope everyone is doing well back home, thinking of you !

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Life After Haiti

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” – Dalai Lama

 “So how was Haiti?” – It’s just a conversation starter, but whenever I am asked, I wish I could better articulate how loaded that question is.  Haiti is… complicated, beautiful, crazy, welcoming, frustrating, peaceful, devastating, and full of potential.  With every question that someone asks I can think of at least twenty different ways to answer.  There is so much that I could tell you, but I find it hard to choose where to begin.  So many people tell me “it takes a special person to do what you are doing, I could never do that!!” but I don’t look at it that way.  I am just an ordinary person doing what I love to do.  We all have different interests and dreams, I am just following mine.  

As I was anticipating going to Haiti, I knew I'd change, but I never could have predicted how. I've been home for two weeks now and I am still trying to process all that I've seen, heard, and learned.   The spirit of the Haitians will inspire me forever.  I will never be able to give Haiti as much as it has given to me.  Coming back from a country where there is starvation, lack of governmental infrastructure, severe poverty, thousands of orphans, neglect and abuse, unemployment, with 50% of the population illiterate because they do not enjoy free education as we do here.. it breaks my heart. It has been an emotional roller coaster.  I am so terribly tired.  Not tired like after a long and hard day.. but drained.  Emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Tired of faking a smile and pretending I am happy to be here.  I am happy to see my friends and family but I feel empty inside. Like a ghost, walking around and seeing things but not physically being here.  I long to be back with my babies...back in Haiti.  Every moment led to an enduring happiness and unwavering hope that I found in Haiti. 

There are no bars on my windows, locks on my doors, or a gate surrounding my house.  But yet I still feel trapped.  Home is supposed to be a place where you feel safe, secured, and loved. That is why I cannot call this place home.  Here, my insecurities are awakened.  I feel like an outkast in spite of my friends, and it is hard trying to have people understand what I do and why I do it.  I feel like I am being sucked into the norms of everyday life here in Canada.  It seems so routine.  I do not feel as ambitious, and I often find myself doubting my dreams.  It is depressing being home. I look around and everyone seems so unhappy.. Why do people live like this ?  Haitians have so little but yet they are the happiest and friendliest people in the world. I miss walking down the street and seeing people look up at you and greet you with a smile, not people that are too busy with their own lives to even notice those around them.  It is clear to me that materialistic things do not bring happiness, they bring selfishness and greed.  It is so hard not to get caught up in this lifestyle and allowing people to bring you down.  It truly is a daily struggle for me.  Sometimes I look up to the sky and see planes passing overhead and secretly wish that I could be on them.  Although I grew up here in Chatham, and grew to love this town.  I feel as if I am on vacation and that Haiti is my home.  But Right now it seems like a world away.  I often close my eyes and find myself drifting back to the chaos.  The sounds of children laughing, babies crying, dogs barking, horns honking, truck gears grinding, and the sound of thunder before a big storm. Faces of the people I have met, and people I have passed on the streets, are engraved in my mind.  I constantly wonder how they are doing, if they have survived the storms, and if they have enough to eat. Life is too easy here.

 I miss the kisses from the children, I miss wearing pee soaked clothes all day because I loved holding them and hugging them.  I miss the excitement in their eyes when they completed their homework or a craft that we were doing.  I miss chasing them around and throwing them in the air and hearing them giggle.  I miss the peacefulness and craziness.  I miss the kids freaking out every time they saw a lizard or cock roach.  I miss the girls screaming on the streets when it began to rain and trying to find a shower cap for their hair.  I miss the bumpy roads and hanging onto the tap tap for dear life.  I miss the kids singing- yes the same song over and over again.  I miss playing out in the rain.  I miss huddling over my lap top to watch a movie at night with the kids.  I miss being able to be myself and being accepted for who I am.  I miss being around people that are just happy to be alive.  I miss going to bed at night feeling like I accomplished something or impacted someone.  I miss feeling like I was needed. 

People keep asking me about my experience in Haiti.  How do I answer that ? I could write novels about my experience.  They ask "What was it like?".  The only I can think of is that it is nothing like here.  Can you picture your life without electricity? Without running water? Without furniture in your house? Without a bed to sleep on? Without toys to play with? Can you picture your house without carpet, hardwood or tiles and just cement or dirt flooring? If you can, well then that is a start.  Now imagine having no car, no bicycle, no roller blades or skateboards, no motorcycle, no scooter, no means of transportation except for your very own two feet.  You are constantly working.. but not working to make money, working to survive. You are sold to a wealthier family and become a "Restavek".  You are responsible for doing the house work, cooking, taking care of the other children, washing cars, doing laundry, etc.  You are beaten regularly, sometimes for speaking out of place, sometimes for not doing a chore correctly, and sometimes for no reason at all.  At night you sleep on a straw mat.  Every night you wet yourself in your sleep, you do not mean to do this but you have encountered so much trauma that you are no longer able to control it.  Once again you are beat with a cowhide whip or a belt.  Every night you pray that your owner or someone in your household will not touch you. You constantly feel weak because you are so hungry and the pangs of hunger never seem to fade.  You are thirsty, yet there is no water.  If you want water you must walk to find a well and carry a bucket of water back, but you are tired.  Or you chose to drink water that is contaminated with bacteria (Cholera) because that is all you can find.  You have no friends.  You do not know where your family is, or if they are even alive.  Finally you are either let go, or you escape from your owners.  You are left on the streets to fend for yourself.  Everyone around you is struggling, suffering, dying.  You feel unsafe because you know if people see that you have money or food they will want to take it from you.  You feel embarrassed and ashamed because you cannot afford clothes so you have to walk around naked.   Not only are you sick, but your children are sick as well.  You have to watch them suffer because you cannot afford medical care.  Their stomachs grow larger and larger as they become filled with worms.  You know your kids will end up just like you because you cannot afford to send them to school.  Every time you hear a loud noise, or a large truck go by that shakes the ground, you fear for your life and memories of the earthquake reply in your head.  You smell, but there is nothing you can do about it.  You do not have a shower and you do not have enough water to waste on a shower, you must use your water for cooking and drinking.  You fall and scrape your leg but you have no bandages, its bleeding bad, so you find something, anything, a piece of paper from the garbage pile down the street to tie around it to help stop the bleeding.  You watch your cut become infected, but there is nothing you can do.  You feel as if you are fading.  You dream of a new life.  You have hope.  Although you have struggled so much, you are happy to be alive and you keep waiting for that one day to come where you are saved. 
This is not the life of every Haitian.  However, the majority of Haitians live like this.  The average Haitian lives on less than a dollar a day.  Could you do it ?

In the middle of writing this blog I decided to go ahead and book a flight to Haiti. 
The plan was for me to return to Haiti in September.  I will be returning to Haiti on July 22nd :) !!!  My heart is bursting with joy and excitement right now!  I can't wait to go and visit the kids from OREA Orphanage !!!! During this adventure I will be volunteering at Rainbow of Love Nursery/Orphanage as well as Hope Hospital with Rigan Louis.  Also during my time in Haiti I will be working alongside Danel Georges- the president of MUCI.  MUCI is an organization that strives to help the Haitian environment.  Danel has been involved with many orphanages and schools and is now working on a nursery project.  With the nursery project we will be building gardens for orphanages/schools so they are able to grow their own food.  I will also be visiting We Advance Medical Clinic in Cite Soliel once again ! I am really looking forward to going back.  I will definitely be busy !!!!  
I have been trying to think of some fundraising ideas and I am lost.  If anyone has any ideas for me please let me know :) 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Coming "Home"

Home- A place where you are supposed to feel comfortable.  It is supposed to be a place where you can relax.  It is where the heart is supposed to be.  
Why don't I feel this way ? Coming home is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  It is even more difficult to fake a smile and pretend as if this is where I want to be.  Don't get me wrong, I love my family, I love my friends, but my heart.. it is still in Haiti.  I feel anxious, nervous, uneasy.  I have so many thoughts running through my head.  I feel as if I am having an outer body experience.  Yes, my body is physically here, but my heart, my soul, the rest of me, has remained in the country I have fallen in love with.. Haiti.  I feel like a foreigner in my own country.  
Although I cannot speak french fluently, and do not know much creole, I feel as if I am forgetting how to speak English as well.  I find many times that my mouth cannot form the words that I wish to say.  I feel as if what I do say does not make sense.  I interact with people on a daily basis but I find myself drifting during conversation and only being able to see their mouths move.  It is like my whole world is on mute.  The only thing I can see is Haiti.  I have still images in my mind, "my life is like a slideshow".  Many times I find myself holding back tears while thinking of the children, the people who are still living in tents during this hurricane season, and the suffering I have witnessed.  I long to be there. 

The streets here are empty; you do not have to watch where you are walking; you do not hear honking horns every second; you are not trying your best to take up as little room as possible on the sidewalks and trying to keep your balance as people run into you; it is lonely here.  I miss the way of life in Haiti.  I miss the busyness, the happiness, the friendliness that people who do not even know you are willing to show you.  I miss getting on a tap tap and fearing for my life every time a vehicle cuts in front of us or stops an inch away from the back of us.  I miss it so much that I even miss the smells on the street, the smell of the children (which yes.. is Urine).  I have experienced more culture shock coming home then I have visiting other countries.  
 I miss my bucket showers and trying not to scream every time as the cold water hits my skin.  I miss being in the middle of a long message, or working on a project, and the electricity going out and I have to start everything from scratch again.  I miss going Cockroach hunting before bed with the kids so I can sleep better at night knowing that there are a few less cockroaches in the world.  I miss picking up one of my babies and realizing I probably should have checked their pants before doing so.  I miss the laughter, I miss the screaming, I even miss the temper tantrums and crying. 
Everyday I wonder what the kids are doing, if the storms are bad, where the wonderful people I have met are.  The selfishness here is overwhelming.  I even find myself taking advantage of the resources available since being back home.  I feel guilty for being here, although I know that I cannot chose where people are born, which country they live in, I just can't seem to make sense of why I was born into this privilege and why others were not.  It does not seem right or fair.  There are so many people that deserve these privileges and need these resources, more then I do. 
My heart continues to ache for Haiti.  I am counting the days until I return.  I have already begun to pack my suitcases.  I feel as if I am on vacation and that this is not reality.  Reality for me now is in Haiti.  It is focusing on how to improve lives, how to help people, what I am capable of doing to change the situations in Haiti, maybe not even for Haiti, but for someone.  There are so many things I wish I could do, so many places I wish I could help, but unfortunately my heart is bigger than my wallet.  I feel unneeded in Canada, I feel useless.  

Being "home" is difficult.  It is hard when people ask about my experiences in Haiti as well as in Ghana because I feel like no matter what I say it will never even compare to what I saw or felt.  Numerous times since returning home I have been called crazy, I have been called an idiot, and I have been told that I am making a huge mistake for not returning to University, but instead returning to Haiti.  If following my dreams, if pursuing what I love to do, and finding happiness makes me crazy.. then so be it.  Haiti is where I want to be, it is where I need to be, and it is where I belong.  I do not think that this decision could ever be a mistake.  I do not know what my future holds, and I have no idea where I will end up.  Right now all that I know is that I am going to finally follow my heart and do what I enjoy doing.  And for me, that is enough. The rest will come in time.  

I have mentioned the people who have discouraged me, but have yet to mention the ones that have encouraged me.  To everyone who has supported me, I cannot thank you enough.   Your support and encouragement means the world to me.  Although there are a few I would love to mention on here who have helped me out, there is one person in particular that has motivated me and has inspired me more than anyone before.  She has taught me so much, and continues to teach me more and more everyday.  Yes, she used to be my former English teacher, but she has developed into much more than that.  She is a true friend.  Candice Fung not only teaches the curriculum but teaches students much greater things.  She teaches you about life.  I admit I took many things for granted in her classes but I have now come to realize the importance of her lessons.  They were not merely lessons on novels and proper English, they were life lessons.  She has allowed me to analyze situations and think critically.  She has motivated me to follow my dreams and has listened to many "crazy" ideas that I have had.  Not once has she put me down or made me feel like an "idiot".  She has believed in me at times when no one else did.  I cannot thank her enough.  Without her, I may have never pursued my passion.  Through all of her classes, through all of her lessons, through all of her discussions, she has made me into the person I am today and I am sure she will continue to make me a better person for many years to come.  For any students of hers that are reading this, please do not take her for granted like I did, absorb as much as you can from her lessons because I can guarantee you, at some point in your life, her lessons will become meaningful and you will have wished you payed a lot better attention during class.
"An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."-  Carl Jung

I have begun to believe in "Love at first sight".  When the plane wheels brushed the Haitian turf I immediately felt a sense of belonging, I felt as if I was right where I was supposed to be.  May 2nd, 2011, has forever changed my life.  It seems as if life back home is a trap, with all of the cars, electricity, running water, and the many other luxuries we have, it seems as if I am slowly being sucked into the "norms" of our society.  Everyday I am struggling to fight against these norms.  I see so many unhappy people.  I feel as if life here is dull and routine.  I do not want that.  I want an adventure everyday!!! Haiti is an adventure everyday.  You never know what you will encounter. 

I have so many questions that run through my head on a daily basis.  How will the tents and shanty homes hold up? What will they do when the rain hits hard and the wind begins to blow?  How many lives are going to be lost this season?  Are the people I have grown to love going to be safe?  What are the children doing?  Do they have enough to eat? What will they do once they reach the age of 12 and are kicked out of the orphanage and left on the streets?

The struggle in Haiti continues day in and day out for many people.  Although my life can never compare to those in Haiti, I find myself struggling here in Canada.  Although I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and access to unlimited resources, I feel as if I am slowly fading.  I long to see the familiar faces of people I passed on the street while walking to the supermarket, I long to hear the laughter of the children and hear them screaming or singing my name.  I miss being called Mama and having my heart filled with all of their love.  Instead of wishing for things, I often find myself wishing I had nothing.  I want to be able to understand deeper what these people are going through everyday.  I want to be able to relate with them and live amongst them.  I walk on their grounds, I eat their food, I sleep in their beds, but will I ever be able to understand truly the aspects of Haitian life?  

As I am writing this I feel an emptiness and uneasiness in my stomach while I sit on my soft mattress.  I feel exhaustion, sadness, guilt, and anxiousness.  Now the question is when will I return to Haiti?  The answer is still unknown.  But the most accurate response is "as soon as possible".  I have my Haitian brothers and sisters working together with me to help me return home soon.  It may be next week, it may be next month, but I will definitely be going back this summer. 
Haiti- I love you and thank you for everything you have shown to me and given to me.  See you soon !  

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Cite Soliel and Everything in Between !

I apologize for not updating my blogs regularly. It has been one hectic week.  Friday morning we left for Cite Soliel. For some reason I actually enjoy driving around in Haiti.. there is so many interesting things to see! I can understand why Cite Soliel is labeled as the Slums of Haiti.  People are literally living in garbage and most do not even have clothes on their backs.  We actually got a little lost and went further into the area then we were supposed to.  It was saddening to see the way these people live.  We arrived at the clinic around ten and were greeted by a group of children and as well as other Blancs (white people).  We started off by entertaining the children that were awaiting outside the clinic.  We then went in and helped organize some supplies and the doctor began to see patients.  Alison and Maeve (the two ladies that we were meeting there) had not arrived yet.  I could not believe the line up outside ! So many people needed to see the doctor and a lot of kids just came to hang out.  There were quite a few people with scabies and ringworm.  We had one patient bring in her baby girl.  She was born with six fingers !!! It was neat to see and I felt so bad for her at first but the doctor said that it is actually quite common even in Canada and the US.  He told us that he would just cut it off but the nurse told him that in Haiti if you do that then it is looked upon as damaging the soul.  The doctor didn't seem to care and said that the baby wont even feel it. After dealing with a lot of chaos, Maeve and Alison finally arrived.  We began to prepare for wash day when Maeve got a phone call.  The guest house (which Phil and I stayed in) had been robbed.  However, the robber only took her things and also Mark's.  They stole both of their computers and a $10,000 generator !
Alison had bought two tubes of bubbles (the HUGE bubbles) so we went outside with the kids and had some fun. The kids were jumping over each other to pop them and some were even eating them !! Phil and I went to the gas station to try and fill up the inflatable pool to wash the kiddies in.  The gas station did not have an air pump so we went across the street where there was a bunch of guys on their motorbikes.  Thankfully they had a pump.  It was quite the image.. us carrying a big inflatable pool down the Haitian streets.. we were the center of attention ! Now the tricky part was to get the pool back into the tap tap.  It was difficult but we finally got it to fit ! After getting the pool back to the clinic we set up a tarp, a tent to cover the pool, and then had to fill buckets of water to fill up the pool.  Needless to say, it took quite awhile to get the pool filled !  As soon as we put the pool on the ground the little ones were ripping their clothes off and could not wait to get in.  I was left in charge of security... My job was to not let anyone get into the pool ! Now that was a difficult task with about fifty kids so excited and hyper.  The pool seemed to draw the attention of many, we ended up with more then one hundred kids ! That is a lot of washing to do.  Many of the kids were sneaky and tried to run back into line.. I ended up washing a few of them at least three times.  The pool started off with crystal clear water but by the time we were done it was black.  Alison and I were in charge of washing the kiddies, Maeve joined in as well.  Phil, Matt, and Albert were in charge of drying them.  After they were finished getting dried off they went to a table we had set up and received vitamins and deworming and then had their skin examined.  We had an absolute blast !!!!!!! Wash day is definitely the highlight of my trip so far. After cleaning up we went back into the clinic to help out.  The doctors were complaining about not having any eye medications.  Luckily I had brought all of my medical supplies with me including what Alcon had donated (thanks to the Anjema family).  It was like I had arrived at the clinic that day for a reason.  They were so happy and thankful.  It was awesome to see the supplies I had brought go to use. 

After we were finished at the clinic we hitched a ride with Maeve to the guest house.  On our way to the guest house we all had a heart to heart about our experiences so far in Haiti.  It was great talking to Maeve because we had a lot of the same views.  Canada (and Ireland where she is from)  is definitely over rated and the media portrays Haiti to be such an awful place (which it can be) but it leaves out all of the good that Haiti poses.  The major problem in Haiti is the corrupt government and policing.  If you have a positive attitude and go out of your way to be friendly to others, then you will have the time of your life and you will most likely fall in love with this country much like the three of us have.  Riding in the back of a pick up truck, looking out at all of the scenery and absorbing all of the friendly faces that pass you by is enough to make you want to stay. There are so many great opportunities here, you just have to be willing to step up and take them.  Michael Franti (the singer) had come to visit the clinic but unfortunately no one had recognized him.. Maeve was pretty upset with herself.  She is an amazing lady, she was worked for many organizations and has attended many parties/meetings in Haiti with many celebrities such as Brad & Angelina, Mylie Cyrus, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn..etc ! She told us the story of when she contracted Cholera by tripping over a dead two year old and fell face first into a pit of Cholera (all of the UN soliders were laughing and video taped it).  We arrived at the Global Dirt Guest house where Maeve and Mark currently live.  It is beautiful !!!! It is in a quiet area and Maeve told us that the neighbourhood is very safe so we could even go for walks ! The Guest House is definitely a nice escape from the Chaos in PAP.  I could not believe how quiet it is.  I began to miss the sound of children screaming and crying.  Maeve and Mark knew who had broken into their house (their house keeper) so Mark had to bring him down to the police station.  They were going to put him in Jail but Mark could not let them do that so he returned to the house.  I was terrified the first night since he stays at the house as well.. I was just waiting for him to steal all of our stuff as well ! But luckily he wasn't dumb enough to do it twice.  Phil and I walked up to the supermarket to buy some snacks.  It began pouring with rain so Mark came and picked us up to drive us home.  We stopped to get Haitian fast food (chicken and potatoes on the side of the road). We played some cards and hung out with Mark and Maeve for a bit before bed. 
I did not sleep at all.. I honestly think it was because it was way too quiet ! (or the fact that I was waiting for the house keeper to come in).  I was up all night and showered and ready by five a.m.  Our ride to go to the clinic was not supposed to arrive until nine so I had lots of time to kill.  Maeve and Mark left at six to transport a patient from the clinic to another hospital that was seven hours away.  For some reason I had a feeling that our ride was going to be late.. which is usual in Haiti (they call it Haiti time.. everything is usually an hour late or longer).  Of course I was right ! It did not show up until noon.
When we got to the clinic we started off with putting hygiene products (toothbrushes, tooth paste, and soap) into zip lock bags to hand out to the children.   Once again I could not believe the amount of children waiting in line.. it was CRAZY! After handing out supplies Phil and I did art therapy with a few of the kids that were still hanging around.  We had asked them to draw pictures of what they remember from the day of the earthquake.  It was really neat to see them all so focused and try so hard to make the best picture they could!  After we were finished with art therapy we had to organize the clinic.  It was a complete mess.. medical supplies were everywhere and the doctors were having a hard time trying to find what they needed.  I started off by labeling all of the suitcases so the doctors knew what was in each one.  Marcie and I decided to take control of the pharmacy area.  We had to label the shelves and organize all of the medicine.  It was so hot in the back of the clinic, we had to keep leaving and going to get a drink because we were both at the point of passing out (I guess we were in the right spot to do that though).  It took quiet awhile and we had to look up a lot of the medicine because it was not in English. While Marcie and I did that, Phil and Matt organized the wound supplies.  It finally started to come together and be somewhat organized ! There was no transportation to get back to the Guest house so Phil and I had to find a driver on the streets to hire.  It wasn't bad.. we paid $20 for a two hour ride ! When we got back to the house Maeve and Mark were still not home.  I began to get worried because I had not heard from them and it was starting to get dark.  It ended up that the hospital was farther then they thought and the car broke down on top of that.  She had asked Phil and I if we could go get some food so she could cook when she got back.  It was pouring with rain, lightening, and windy but we decided it would be fun.  Wasn't the best idea we ever had.  It was pitch black and so muddy.  I had a lot of open cuts on my legs and feet and we could not see what we were walking in so I was getting a little worried.  I was also waiting for us to get jumped since it was pitch black and no one else on the streets.  However, we made it safely to the supermarket.  We bought ground beef, hamburger buns, and cheese to make sloppy Joes.  I do not think I had ever been that excited for food before.  Maeve and Mark did not get back until ten.  Phil and I had not eaten anything all day other than a banana so we were really hungry.  The food was amazing !!!! One of the best meals yet.  We all ate outside and talked.  Maeve and mark are hilarious ! Had so much fun with them.  Although I was having a great time at the clinic and the guest house I did miss the kids from the orphanage.  It really got me thinking how hard it will be to leave them.  I was almost in tears having to leave them for the weekend.  I got to the point where I knew that I physically and emotionally would not be able to leave these kids.  Sunday night after returning to the orphanage I sat and thought about it for awhile.  I thought about my future, what I want in life, and what makes me happy.  Being here in Haiti I have been happier then I have ever been.  Haiti is where I belong.  I know that if I go back to school in September that I will not be happy because this is where I want to be.. this is where my heart is.  I started thinking that I may be in the wrong program for school.  I was sitting here in my bedroom so confused and unsure of what to do.  I knew that this is what I want to be doing, that this is where I want to be but I was unsure of what others would say and if I would be making a huge mistake.  What do you do when everything you have ever wanted is right in front of you ? When you finally feel as if you have found your passion and what you are meant to be doing? .. I cannot explain the feelings I had Sunday night that lead me to make a  crazy and maybe unrealistic decision.. but I have decided to take a year off school and continue my work in Haiti.  I was terrified to tell my parents, I knew that they would probably not support my decision but I decided to send them both a text and explain to them how I was feeling.  They proved me wrong.. they were more supportive then I could have asked for.  My Dad especially surprised me, his response brought tears to my eyes.  I am so thankful that they are understanding and trust that I am doing what I need to do.  That was definitely a great start to my birthday.  I have no idea how this is going to work, or exactly where I will be staying or going yet, and I have no idea what I want to do with my future, but what I do know is that I could never regret this decision, no matter what.  I am happy here.. I love this country, this lifestyle, and for me.. that is enough, the rest will come with time.  I will be coming home June 4th to work for the summer and hopefully to do some fund raising then I will be returning to Haiti in the fall/winter for an undetermined amount of time.  I have spoke with some people and many organizations so I will be very busy with volunteering.  I will also be spending the summer trying to arrange plans for when I return.  I cannot thank those who have encouraged me to follow my dreams enough!  I also wish Caleb was here to thank.. if it wasn't for him.. I would not have found my passion, my dream, and where I belong.  He pushed me to come to Haiti, when I doubted coming he made sure that I changed my mind.  I think he knew better then anyone that this is what I was meant to be doing.  He has inspired me in so many ways and I made this decision with him in mind.  This is what he would want me to do.. to do what I enjoy doing.  I know that if he was here with me he would probably be making this same decision.  I encourage everyone to come to Haiti, it is the most amazing and eye opening experience.. however.. I do warn you.. you will fall in love with it ! Everyone I talk to who has came to Haiti to volunteer, has came back.  I feel as if this is where I will be living in the near future.  I would love to start my own orphanage and continue to help out down here.
Sunday night was a great night.. but Monday was even better! Monday morning is the first morning that I have slept past six (I slept in until 7:30) !! Not only that but then we had a fantastic breakfast.  After the kids were in school we headed to the airport to try and locate Phil's lost bag.. that was not a success though!  At the airport I received a call from Rigan.  I was so happy to hear from him !! He is sick right now, there was a Cholera outbreak at the Hope Home so I am very worried for him.  We are hoping to visit the hospital before we head back on Saturday.
When we got back to the orphanage there wasn't much to do so we asked Jean if we could go back up to the mountains for the afternoon until the kids are done school.  We rented a tap tap and were on our way.  The drive up was even better this time.. it was light out so we could actually see everything!  We were hoping to have lunch at the lookout but it is closed on mondays.  We walked through lookout grounds and found an area with some animals (however not many).  After that we took some pictures and headed to the shops to buy some souvenirs.   It is so fun trying to bargain with them ! I find it quiet amusing.  When they give you a price.. you divide it by four and that is usually the price they will accept.  After spending a few hours at the mountains and shops we headed back to the orphanage.  I figured that the kids didn't know it was my birthday so I was not expecting anything.  I had a great day already, but of course the kids made it even better.  I walked into the orphanage gate and they had balloons everywhere and started singing happy birthday (in English I might add)!! Not only that.. but when I came back in the room and was resting they surprised me.  They started singing once again and they had all made cards for me as well as a birthday crown.  This was by far the best birthday ever!!! I would not have wanted to spend it anywhere else.  After receiving many hugs and kisses and taking lots of pictures we decided to go outside and play our favourite game ( you are blindfolded and have to try to find the water bottle on the ledge, kind of like pin the tail on the donkey).  This time I handed out suckers as the prize.  This birthday will definitely be one to remember !!!
Yesterday we received some horrible news.  The landlord came to the orphanage asking for rent money.  When Jean told him that he does not have the money he gave Jean a two weeks notice.  If Jean does not have the money in two weeks then the orphanage will be shut down.  It was definitely not a good day.  Jean also did not have money for food for the Children and did not decide to tell us until all of the stores were already closed.  They shared a can of baby formula for dinner.  It is frustrating because I have given Jean a lot of money (over $2000) but he has had so many debts to pay off for previous purchases of food, rent, teachers, and other necessities for the children, so he was unable to use all the money given to him for rent.  I am hoping we can find help for him.  Today we took Jean and Mammi with us and bought lots of food for the kids to make sure that they will have enough to eat for the next month.  They have been so upset for the last two days but when we got back to the orphanage with all the food they were so happy and could not thank us enough.
Since Friday is our last day, Phil and I have decided to put some of our money towards a day out and meal for the children.  We are going to take them all to the beach again since they had so much fun last time and bring with us a feast  :) I am really looking forward to spending another fun day with them and seeing them smile !
Although it will still break my heart to leave them and I will miss them so much.. at least now I know I will be back soon !

Send my love back home & See you all very soon ! xoxo