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