Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Greatest Lessons of All..

In Haiti- in humanitarian crises, in war overseas, and some around kitchen tables back home- I have learned that attaining peace and changing things requires much more than just the realization that a change needs to occur. A positive change, a solid change, a change in which communities can flourish, can only occur when we ask ourselves and each other to be more than just aware. Change can only begin when action becomes present. As Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that action is essential: "Without it," Emerson wrote, "thought can never ripen into truth." If we want to change something, we must begin with understanding. And a good change, a meaningful change, a change in which we can enjoy the world and live with purpose can only occur if we decide to do more than just live for ourselves.

If Haiti has taught me anything, it is that there are some things- like civil society, like character, like a child's belief in the future- that cannot be changed overnight. Humanitarians, philanthropists, anthropologists, warriors, soliders, diplomats, and scholars all do best when we recognize the difference between what we can fight for, what we can change, and what we must simply accept, and what must be built over time, from within. I am nineteen, and I still sometimes believe that I can shape the world through service, but lately I have learned in Haiti that patience and acceptance are going to be a big part of this long journey.

This past week has been the most challenging yet. It has required more patience and acceptance than I thought I had in me. We have faced more obstacles than we could have ever imagined and even though things have been beyond stressful, we are learning and growing from each experience and each hardship. We have come to realize that we can't change everything and we can't help everyone. We have been without electricity or water for a week now. We are truly living the Haitian lifestyle. We also let our staff go, however, they refused to leave on the 18th like we had agreed on because they told us that their house is not finished being repaired yet. We agreed to let them stay until the 21st. When they finally decided to move out, Montanna and I happened to be at the beach with the kids. When we returned, we found the house empty. We now have no table, chairs, dishes, etc. This is nothing new. I expected that we would run into these problems because as bad as it sounds "this is Haiti". On top of that, Montanna and I are both sick with chest infections and possibly have parasites. Although we are exhausted, frustrated, hurt, and angry, we are managing and we are helping each other to stay positive. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger !!!! Haiti is definitely testing us, but we will not give in. We will pass these tests.

Growing up I always loved history, traveling, old music (Johnny Cash especially), and I always enjoyed interacting with people much older than myself. My entire life I had this great fear that my parents had made a terrible mistake and that I had been born at the wrong time, in the wrong era.
My second biggest fear was that I was not living a meaningful life. I had been told since pre-school that if I wanted to succeed in life that I had to graduate from a place called university. I was told over and over again that university was the place where I could pursue big dreams, it was the place where life began. So, I went to universtity. And just after a few weeks, I felt as if I had been lied to. When was I going to learn about how to live well? How to be a leader? How to make a difference? As I sat in a classroom filled with two hundred and fifty students, it disgusted me to see that everyone had a laptop on their desk, every one was wearing nice clothes, every one had big text books, everyone had unlimited access to any resources that they needed or desired. I couldn't help but to think back to my children in Ghana, my students, who were so eager to learn, but had nothing to learn from. We had no desks, no pencils, no chalkboards, no paper, no books. My children were orphans, which meant that they were consider the lowest and most devalued people in society. So with that being said, my school was given the left overs from other schools in the area. I still remember my first day of teaching and wondering how the heck I was going to teach the kids anything without the basic necessities required to teach a classroom full of young students. They stared up at me with their big beautiful brown eyes and I had nothing to offer them. It was a struggle at first, but then I realized that we learn so much more through human interactions then we do from sticking our noses in text books. Although I could not teach them all of the academics that we are taught back home, I could teach them more important lessons. I realized that I didn't need paper or pencils or desks. I had children staring at me, so desperate to gain knowledge, so intrigued by the "Obruni" standing in front of them. This is when I learned that adventure contains the best lessons in life. That the best way to learn is to immerse yourself into difficult situations and to step out of your comfort zone. I have learned the greatest lessons of all through traveling. I have learned how to live.

-Walking with my orphans in Ghana-

Right now I am surrounded by various noises- hammers pounding, kids crying, horns honking, and dogs barking. I am surrounded by chaos, yet, I find nothing but peace in my heart. I find a sense of calmness. My fear of living a meaningful life is gone. Living in Haiti is definitely a challenge. I have experienced extreme highs, and deep lows. But my life now has more meaning then ever before. I have the opportunity to improve the lives of others around me, of my children. I have the chance to open my heart completely, something that I was unable to do in Canada. Years ago, I wondered how the kids that flashed across my television screen lived, I wondered what they encountered daily, but I never could have imagined that I would one day be living among those children, let alone caring for them. The people who had once been anonymous in their suffering, are now my friends and my family.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

What More Could I Ask For?

May 18th was Flag Day in Haiti. We had parades walk past our house and we all laughed and cheered for them. Although, we celebrated much more than just flag day on May 18th, we also celebrated the expansion to our family.

A man showed up at the front of the orphanage with a bag in one hand and a beautiful little girl in the other. We invited him in and we all sat on the front porch and chatted. He had traveled here from Port Au Prince, I still have no clue how he heard about our orphanage. Christine is six years old. Her mother passed away during the earthquake and her father can no longer care for her. At first we told him that we could not take her in as we had not finished the legal work for our current children. However, we could not say no. He stayed for about an hour to observe us with the children and to say goodbye to his daughter. Christine was very shy at the beginning, but that did not last long as she was laughing, playing, and being silly with our children within two hours. She is a constant chatter box and loves to come up behind us and tickle us. Although she is sweet and quite funny at times, it is obvious that she has not received much discipline and she is definitely going to be a handful, but we are more than happy to welcome her to our family.

Flag day definitely had its ups and downs. Although we opened our arms and hearts to a beautiful little girl, and we had electricity all day, of course, nothing can be perfect and we faced a few obstacles as well. Our staff was supposed to move out that day. But they refused to leave. They have told us that their new house is not finished yet so they have to stay for four more days. We had many heated arguments with them that day but we ended up allowing them to stay until Monday at the latest. Our cook continued to ask for her job back and we continued to explain to her that we cannot trust her and that she has been refusing to cook for the children. She is not a pleasant woman to argue with. It took awhile for us all too cool off and then I explained to her that we are going to continue paying for her daughters schooling and that we will give them $30 US a month to care for her as well. They seemed content with that. They finally began slowly moving things out today. We will see what Monday brings. Another downer was that our well ran out of water. We have not had water now for two days so we have had to go buy many bags of water and the children have been unable to shower. Good thing we took em to the beach today!!!!

Today has already been exhausting. We were all up and ready to go by 7am. Brandon brought with him soccer uniforms as well as soccer cleats for all of the children. We decided that we would make today a soccer day. We called them back into Brandon's room one by one and I helped them change into their new uniforms. They were so excited. Not only did the kids had uniforms, but the three of us had t-shirts with "coach" written across the back. We looked like an actual team in our new gear. Montanna and I decided that it would be much more fun if we took the kids to an actual field to play instead of the small area in front of our orphanage that is all gravel. We hired a tap tap, loaded the kids into the back, and we all took a ride down to a big field with actual nets!!! First we warmed up and then we made teams and the fun began. Brandon played goalie and Montanna and I split up and each joined a team. We played for awhile but the heat definitely got to us. We called the tap tap to return but the driver was now in Saint Marc. We had to walk home. The kids took us through back pathways and through fields filled with banana trees, goats, bulls, lizards, bridges, streams, and lots of rocks. It was definitely an interesting and very hot walk home. We decided to stop at the pastors house and take advantage of his private beach. The kids stripped out of their uniforms and ran towards the water. Montanna, Brandon, and I dove in as well. It was so refreshing. We spent a few hours splashing around and trying to teach the children to swim. When we decided to return home we were all dehydrated and sunburnt (well only the Blan's were sunburnt). To sum things up, we had a BLAST. We are all exhausted now and a few of the kids have drifted off to sleep on the front porch.

It is amazing watching our family become closer and stronger with each passing day (also bigger). These children are my life and my reason for being. I know I am where I am meant to be. I know this is what I am meant to be doing. Although my heart is full, it does not mean that I do not wish for my Canadian family to be here with me as well. There are many days that I wish I could just run through the door and give them all hugs and tell them all about my day or express my excitement about having a new child, or tell them about the funny things my kids did today. It makes it even harder when I get text messages from my Mom saying how much my little brother misses me and how sad he is. It hurts. Because I miss them too. Sometimes I find myself so busy and occupied here that I do not even have time to think about my life back in Canada. It usually hits me when I am laying in my bed and my mind finds itself reminiscing. There are many moments where something here reminds me of home and I feel that pang in my heart, the same pang that lead me here in the first place. I try not to think about it too much, as bad as it sounds, I can't, or else I find myself in tears and want to be isolated from what is going on around me, including my children. If I think about it for too long I will lose focus on what I am here to do. And that is something I cannot do.

As ironic as it is, as I was finishing the last sentence my phone rang, it was my Canadian family (my mom, step dad, and 2 little brothers). I spoke with my little brother, Liam, and his voice screamed with excitement as he told me he made the track and field team and that he also scored a goal in soccer. Its moments like this that make me miss them even more. Not being able to congratulate them or hug them for their accomplishments is definitely hard. My other little brother Dan also made the travel baseball team and I know how proud he must be, as I am just as proud or even more proud. It is also hard talking to my Mom, because there are so many days that I wish she were here to help me with my children or days that I desperately wish I could ask her for her advice when one of my babies are sick or hurt. I am still having problems sleeping at night, I have probably gotten five hours of sleep total in the past 2 nights. I have been stressed about our staff, I have been missing my loved ones back home, I have been overwhelmed with attaining the guardianship of my kids as well as overwhelmed with taking in a new child, I have been sick for the past few days, and I think cockroaches might also have something to do with my sleeping patterns. No matter how long I am here, I will NEVER get used to those things. They disgust me and scare the crap out of me!

I have just been informed this evening that my friend Seanna Mcleod is being detained in a Haitian jail for bringing a diabetic prisoner insulin. She will be in all of our prayers tonight. She has done great work in Haiti and she is a brave and courageous woman with a huge heart. Stay strong Seanna!!!

Right now, we are all hungry, and awaiting for dinner to be cooked, rice and salami. As I am sitting here, Norens is beside me banging on the lid of a container with one hand, playing on an elastic guitar with the other, and singing a song. He is the most musically talented child I have ever met. He can play the drums on anything and he is actually very impressive. He loves to sing and dance as well. I received his report card yesterday and he has all straight A's. As much as a little bugger he can be, he is very intelligent and quite entertaining at times. He has taken a lot of time to warm up to us, but this week he has definitely felt more comfortable as he now comes to me if he is hurt, grabs my hand while we are walking, and tries to play tricks on me like hiding in a dark room and jumping out at me as I walk by. I can't express enough how much I love being a mommy, it is the best feeling in the world. I find myself so protective of my kids already. I look forward to tomorrow, to next month, to next year, and to the next ten years as I know that our family will only continue to grow and become stronger.

For the longest time I kept waiting for life to get easier, more simple, and less complicated. I figured that if I waited long enough then everything would just fall into place for me. But now I have realized that maybe it doesn't get easier. Maybe you have to fight for things to "fall into place". I have realized that the struggles, the climb, the one obstacle after another... maybe that's what life is all about. I have realized that sometimes you have to be your own hero, no one else can save you, no one else can bring you happiness, only you have the power to do that for yourself. You hold your life in your hands, no one else. You've gotta chase your dreams, fight for them, do the unthinkable. Find your happiness. Because once you do.. then everything begins to "fall into place". Everything begins to feel perfect even with the struggles and obstacles. Sometimes you have to give good things up to find better things. I have finally found those "better" things. Those better things are my ten children who suffocate me with laughter, kisses, happiness, and most of all LOVE each and every day. What more could I ask for?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Have less. Do More. Be More.

It seems as if the struggles and frustrations are finally beginning to pay off. What we have been fighting so hard for since returning to Haiti is now within reach. On Tuesday we had an unexpected visit from Norens, Don, and Neika's father. He made the trip from Port Au Prince, and we had no idea he was coming. He had not visited the children in three years and the children were hesitant to visit with him. They hid behind us or in their bedroom for most of his stay. Although they were mad with him, as any child would be if they were neglected by their parent, after talking to him I realized his love and concern for his children. We talked for about an hour with the judge and I had a friend translate. The father was unable to feed the children or clothe them and he wanted them to have a good education which was another thing he could not provide. He told us that he cannot take the children home and asked if they could stay with us. His other concern was that we will send them back or abandoned them once they reach the age of eighteen. We assured him that we will continue caring for and assisting them throughout their lives if they need it. We want to make sure all of our children have a good education and a secure job. After an hour or two of discussions, their father signed a paper with the judge and granted us complete guardianship of all three children. As sorry as I felt for the father, I was also overcome with a sense of joy as I had officially just become the mother of three children. At moments I wanted to scream with excitement, at others I wanted to cry. It was overwhelming and a lot to take in.. but I knew it felt right. I still have to tell myself that I am not dreaming and that this is "real".

On top of the guardianship of the three children, I also had another unexpected visit from Wendel's uncle. I was informed that his mother had passed away and his father abandoned him after his mothers death. He also stated that he would like to sign over the guardianship of Wendel to us. We are meeting with the Judge on Saturday to complete the paperwork. I cannot even express how excited I am. Although I love ALL of my children, Wendel holds a special place in my heart. He is the smallest child, very lethargic, but he has a huge heart. He was the first one to call me Mamma. Every night Wendel falls asleep on my lap or in my arms. When I finally put him into bed he cries as I go to leave. I have to lay with him and hold his hand until he is passed out so I can quietly creep out of the room. He comes to me whenever he is sick or hurt. He is my baby.

Things are still difficult here as the staff are supposed to be moving out tomorrow. Everyone has been on edge, but we now have our first volunteer here to visit which has lightened things up !!! Brandon is going to be staying with us for a month and helping out around the orphanage. I think he will keep our mind off of the stresses and give us different perspectives on certain situations.

Today we spent all day at the beach with the kids as we attended a field trip for Norens, Elmine, and Christina. However, we felt guilty when the other children could not come so we decided to wait at the orphanage with them and hire a separate tap tap to bring the rest of the children too. We danced, sang, had a good meal, and then cooled off in the water. There were so many people there, the majority of course being children. Tomorrow is move out day for Herve and Marie Andre and also our laundry day !! - does not sound so exciting.

Through all of the challenges and frustrations, my eyes are being opened to a whole new world and way of living. Everyday I have spent in Haiti has been beautifully overwhelming; everywhere I look are human needs and brokenness on display, begging for someone to meet them, fix them. There is a growing population of children who need a soft place to rest their heads and meals to fill their bellies because either their parents have died or they are too poor to care for their children, or because they have been abandoned and left on the streets to fend for themselves. There is a need for basic education in matters of hygiene and sexual behaviour which could reduce disease and improve their day to day lives. I find it next to impossible to fall asleep at night. I think about these things as I lay in bed exhausted, devastated, and angry that people have been suffering like this while I had lived an extravagant life for the past nineteen years. Many of the people that have been suffering are my friends or my children. They are girls and boys that I know personally because I laugh with them when they are happy and dry their tears when they are sad, hurt, afraid, or sick. I feed them, give them their medications, and bandage their wounds. They are not anonymous, they are not statistics; they are people I care for and love, and I only want the best for them as any friend or parent would.

I didn't come to Haiti with a degree in education; I am not a nurse, or a teacher, and I am not a missionary. I had absolutely no idea what was involved with running an orphanage and frankly did not contain the business knowledge or organizational skills required to do so. I was in no way qualified. But I am here, and I am doing it. The biggest misconception is that you must be qualified in something to travel and to volunteer. However, you do not need a degree or a profession in anything. I have realized that the adventure is the best way to learn. All you need is a heart and a desire to help those in need. A degree is not required to show love or to pick up a child and hug them or tickle them as they burst into laughter. Although you may not think that something as simple as showing a child affection is enough, it is more then enough to them, and I can assure you that it will be the most rewarding thing you ever do. Here, the smallest gestures are appreciated. Here, the smallest gestures are the most rewarding. This is raw, but real life. This is what everyone needs to see and to feel. People back home feel sorry for themselves and rot away in their own sorrows, but they have no idea what people around the world are facing EVERYDAY. You may hate your life, while some people can only dream of having your life.

Well, I am suffocating from heat as I sit on the top bunk with Wendel fast asleep by my side (guess he got bored of watching me type) so I am going to put him to bed and then head to bed myself. Tomorrow is Flag Day in Haiti and the children do not have school. Should be a busy day!!!! Bon nuit Zanmi's.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The battles continue...

Lately, I just haven't had the energy or desire to write. I have been at a loss of words. My head is a blur right now, so many things spinning around inside. My life has become a balancing act. On one side, I am running a small non-profit organization and need amounts of money that seem unfathomable to me and also facing the frustation and struggles of the legal processes here in Haiti. On the other side, I am learning how to be a real mother, even if my motherhood is unconventional. Both aspects are testing me and allowing me to grow in amazing ways.

The last two weeks have consisted of many highs and severe lows. It has been a rollercoaster to say the least. I have been so exhausted, stressed, and overcome with emotions and feelings that I didn't even know I possessed. Every day is a constant battle right now between my head and my heart. I am trying to remember that although I need to get the legal things finished, I also need to slow down, take it easy, and focus on my children. Thank God Montanna and I both have a sense of humour and we are able to still laugh through all of the struggles.

I still find myself overwhelmed by the aid and assistance that Haiti is still in desperate need of. I took a moto ride through Cite Soleil the other day and it literally tore me apart, just as it did months ago when I first visited. I guess this time I had assumed that things had improved.. They had to have improved since my last trip... But they haven't. I can't seem to get the images out of my mind. When I begin to think about it, it makes me cry. The kids that I had gotten to know and love in Cite Soleil still remain there. Fighting every day to survive. It hurt me to see that they are still living and bathing in garbage and literally..shit. It was Montanna's first time in Cite Soleil.. She said out of all the crazy and dangerous things she has done throughout her travels.. Cite Soleil was definitely the worst. Cite Soleil is the poorest and dangerous place in the world.. & we decided to travel through it on a moto. The only thing we could think about while driving through was how easy it would be for someone to just shoot us. But.. We made it out alive. Broken hearted.. But alive.

If I had to summarize in one word my first few weeks in Haiti, it would be contradiction. The physical environment of Haiti is one huge paradox; amazing, breathtaking, and beautiful but consists of immense poverty and desolation. My life- especially my emotions- hang in the balance between absolutely loving my new life in Haiti and battling the bullshit politics, lonliness, exhaustion, and stress. Most of the people around me do not speak my language, nor do I speak theirs. This communication vacuum has created even more frustrations as I am unable to express to them my thoughts or feelings which makes it that much harder to build meaningful relationships. However, I am learning so much- everything from how to eat foods that I have never seen before to how to communicate through hand signals and facial expressions. My horizons are being expanded and my perspectives are changing everyday. In the midst of such a wonderful and invigorating experience I sometimes am overcome with pangs of missing the people who I love that are miles away. Especially when I get messages from my little brother telling me how much he misses & loves me and then tells me he's asking to come to Haiti for his birthday present. Its hard being torn between two lives; one in Canada with my family, and one in Haiti with my other family & my children. I have spent many nights curled up in a ball on the top of our bunk bed on my lumpy twin, sheetless mattress, sweltering in the dark, getting eaten alive b mosquito's.. and crying-- partly because I am overwhelmed and partly because I miss my family and my friends. Sometimes I cry because simply I am just exhausted.

I love my new life. It is wonderful in so many ways, but I would be lying if I said that I don't sometimes miss the comforts and the people of my old one. Sometimes I wish I could still go to the store and spend a ridiculous amount of money on a cute outfit. Sometimes I want to just lay on the couch and watch a movie with my mom. Sometimes I want to be able to jump in my car and drive around for hours listening to music and clearing my head like I used to do. Most days, I wish I could wake up under my down comforter in a house with air conditioning. Sometimes I just wish I could hang out with my little brothers eating junk food and laughing and annoying each other. Sometimes I want to spend hours upon hours talking with my best friends about life. I want to go to the gym; I want my hair to look nice; I want to be able to wear jeans; I want to be a normal teenager living in Canada...sometimes.

But I want other things more. All the time. I want to be spiritually and emotionally filled every day of my life. I want to be loved and cuddled by my children and never go a day without laughing. I want to wake up to a rooster's crow and open my eyes to see palm trees and breath taking mountains. I want to be challenged endlessly; I want to be learning and growing every minute of every day. I want to be taught by those I teach and I want to share my love with people who otherwise may not know of love. I want to work so hard that I end everyday filthy, sweaty, and too exhausted to move. I want to feel needed , important, and useful. I want to make some kind of difference, no matter how small. I want to follow my heart. I want to give my life away to serve others with each breath and each second. At the end of everyday, no matter how hard, I want to be right here in Haiti.

Opportunity's to make someone else's life better are far more attractive to me than the luxuries back home. The longer I am here the more I realize the fulfillment of seeing my kids smile always swallows my frustrations. No matter how many contradictions I struggle with, how difficult certain situations are, no matter how lonely I get, no matter how many tears I cry, one truth will remain firmly set in my heart; my kids are worth it. I am doing what I was created to do.

Uncertainity is what my life is based on now. The only thing I can do is believe that everything will work out and if its meant to be then it will be. Despite the obstacles, I feel a surprising level of comfort living here in Haiti. I feel like I was born to be here and in many ways, living here seems more natural than living in my home country. I have this unexplainable feeling that I am where I am made to be. Every day I get to wake up to nine beautiful children. I get to sing, dance, laugh, and play with them. I get to take them for ice cream, play hide n go seek, give them their medications, eat dinner with them, and the best of all, I get to cuddle with them and tuck them into bed. I know that no matter what hardships haiti throws my way, I am home.

We had to let our staff go, as we began to realize that it will be the only way to eliminate some of the problems that we have been encountering. They will be moving out May 18th and then it will just be Montanna and I left caring for our children. It is going to be hard, especially with the language barier, but I know we will manage and that it will only make us stronger and bring us closer together. Through the stress and struggles, we have been given an opportunity to build a new orphanage, a bigger orphanage, and a place that we can call our own. More details on this new and exciting project soon as we will be seeking volunteers to come help us build !!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue to battle through the legal crap and also as we battle anything else that may be thrown our way. Weneed all of the support and encouragement we can get right now.

Love & miss all of my family & friends.

Ps- HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to the best mamma in the world. Thank you for always believing in me and encouraging me. I appreciate everything you have done for me as well as for your "grandbabies". We can't wait for you to come visit :) love you to the moon & back & missing you tons. Hope I can be half the mother that you are. Xoxoxo

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Frustration, Exhaustion .... & Love

On monday we took Wendel and Norhens to Hopital Espoir in Port Au Prince for medical examinations as I was worried about the health of both boys. We took a tap tap to Saint Marc then a bus to Saint Marc to Port Au Prince. On the way there I sat between the boys and by the end of the trip both were fast asleep, one in my arms and the other on my lap. After being checked out by five doctors, poked by three needles, and after many tears and kicking and screaming, we found out that both boys have scabies. Wendel also has anemia and has some issues with digestion. We are still waiting for a lot of test relsults but we are hoping and praying that they come back positive. It was a long day for both the boys and Montanna and I. To top off the day Montanna was puked on by a lady in the tap tap and I was peed on by a baby at the hospital. Before returning to the orphanage we took the boys to get ice cream, juice, and candy for being so brave.

Today I am living the desires of my heart and I cannot imagine being happier. Before moving to Haiti and officially taking on this task, I anticipated that I would encounter many hardships and frustrations. Yesterday was the beginning of the many frustrations to come. Lately we have been having issues with our staff as they are not abiding by the rules that we have set out and they are not satisfied with the changes we are making. The most frustrating part is they keep asking for more money. It hurts when the people you are trying to help are actually trying to screw you over. It was time to put my foot down, so that I did. We gave them two choices, either they stay and we continue to pay, shelter, and feed them, or they simply leave. It would break my heart to let them go but we do need some sort of structure and order at the orphanage.

We began the reconstruction of the storage building yesterday as well which also brought on some more stresses as we are trying to figure out building plans and expenses. We received most of the building supplies yesterday and we received the sand today. As we began the reconstruction it began to rain so we have had to put our work on hold so instead we loaded all the kids on a tap tap and surprised them by buying them ice cream. It was a blast !

Although yesterday was filled with stress, frustration, lots of emotions, and exhaustion, I cannot imagine living any other life than the one that is unfolding in front of me each day. It is not easy and it is definitely not the life I had planned for myself. I thought that I wanted to attend university with my high school friends, graduate with a good degree, find my prince charming, get married, have a successful career and children, settle into a nice house down the road from my parents and live happily ever after. But that just isn't in the cards for me. Today I am a single woman raising a house full of children and trying my best to teach others to follow their heart and to chase their own dreams in a country that is a far cry from my hometown and culture. I laugh now at the stresses I have experienced during my time in Haiti about the cockroaches, spiders, children eating crayons and erasers or when they find condoms on the streets or in the garbage and start blowing them up, learning to cook on open fire, washing my laundry by hand with a bar of soap, or bathing with a bucket of water. I realize that the frustrations I am experiencing this week will also pass and be something for me to laugh about. Everyday I look around at beautiful, expectant faces with huge brown eyes hungry for love, I know that I am here just to love and to give the children everything I possibly can, the rest I will figure out in time. I believe that we are all created to do the same thing. It may not look the same. It may take place in a foreign country or it may take place in your own backyard. But I truly believe that we are all created to follow our passions and to change the world for someone, to help someone, and to love someone unconditionally. Our dreams are quite possible. They are within reach and they are acheiveable.

Some days life in Haiti is excruciatingly difficult, some days I even question myself as to why I am here and why I chose to give up the luxuries of my past life, but in totality, the blessings I receive here far out weigh the hardships. No matter what kind of day I'm having, no matter how frustrated or stressed I become, no matter how many lonely days or days where I long for my friends and family that I experience, every night when I get to lay down beside my babies and have them fall asleep in my arms, it makes everything worth fighting for, it reassures me why I am here and the frustrations I faced earlier in the day are erased and I am overcome with a sense of happiness and my heart once again becomes full.

I have no idea what tomorrow will hold, every day is a new adventure here. It is going to rain again today so it looks as if the reconstruction will have to be put off until another day. We are finally starting to get the hang of things, but it is going to take some more time to get used to the routines. Sleeping is still an issue, especially when I wake up to a huge trantula above my face... Gotta love sleeping on the top bunk !!!!! NOT .. Well the kids are just getting home from school so it is now time to go eat lunch, play tag, colour, skip, give piggy back rides and then have a game of hide n go seek in the dark, have a bed time snack, tuck my little munchkins into bed and then cuddle them before I fall asleep myself. Mwen renmen ou zanmi's. Ou revouir !!