Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

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