Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Friday, 29 June 2012

One Love, One Life

Recently a friend said to me "I don't think you thought all this through... I thought you were going to Haiti to help the children, not commit to taking care of them until they are an adult? That's a huge commitment Em..I think we both now you simply wanted to do something GOOD opposed to rotting away in this sh**ty town"

This message really made me think about my decision. It allowed me to weigh the negatives and positives of my situation. My back aches from the moto rides and sleeping on a crappy bed, every day I feel disgusting because I am covered in dirt and sweat, my stomach hurts either from constipation or from diarrhea (there's no happy median), I eat the same food almost everyday- spaghetti and chicken and rice, I encounter cockroaches, spiders, and many other interesting creatures daily, I do not have electricity or running water, I have to shower with a small bucket and share a small bathroom with 15 people (you can imagine what that bathroom looks like and smells like with nine children running in and out), I have to deal with corruption and people constantly trying to rip off the "blan", I get furious because starving people would rather buy minutes for their cell phone then food to fill their bellies, I hate the fact that some Haitians do not have the most basic education because they cannot afford to go to school, I am sick of every Haitian man making kissing noises as I walk by or telling me "it was love at first sight", I am tired because I do not sleep at night due to the mosquito's, heat, and noise, I have become content with the fact that not many men will want to be with a woman who has nine children and who lives in a third world country, I am pissed off at the parents who are so willing to give up their children because if they don't have to pay for their school it means they have more money in their pocket for themselves, It drives me crazy when I see kids playing with condoms on the street or ripping of the rims and wearing them as bracelets, I worry everyday that something will happen to one of my children or that they will become ill, my life is full of chaos and uncertainty.

However, my life is also now full of love, joy, happiness, and simplicity. These children have stolen my heart- actually- Haiti as a whole has stolen my heart and I am afraid it will never give it back. In Haiti, I find purpose. I find a reason to live and to fight for what I believe in every day. I can be myself here and give out all of the love that my heart has to offer, because people here actually need that love and most of all- they want that love. Yes my life is chaotic and frustrating, but that is all wiped away when a child who has endured so much suffering looks up at me and smiles, or when I am walking down the street and they run up and grab my hand. I love the fact that in Haiti, you can be absolutely ridiculous- you can dance and you can sing in the streets, in a tap tap, or even in the middle of a market- and instead of people saying "wow, what is wrong with that person, they should be in a mental hospital", they will actually join in and cheer you on. The Haitian people are so resilient and strong. They have so much talent and so much potential. Haiti is beautiful. In Haiti I feel needed, I feel that this is where I am meant to be, this is what I am meant to be doing. Yes, there are so many struggles and obstacles, yes, my life is harder than it has ever been, and yes some days I break down and cry and I am ready to give up and return home, but to be honest, I am also happier than I have ever been. I spent my life watching, from a distance.. Behind tinted glass. And you know what.. I just couldn't do it anymore. So I stepped out and the most amazing thing happened. And suddenly, right in front of me, was reality.

It enlightens me to see children so eager to learn and so passionate about school and church. It's the simple things here that bring the biggest smiles to my face- like water gun fights on the beach, playing soccer with the boys, teasing my older girls about boyfriends, dancing and singing, giving endless amounts of piggy backs, having one of my babies tell me that they love me or that I am beautiful, having one of the kids fall asleep in my arms or across my lap, but the most rewarding thing is just watching them- seeing them be so happy with such little, seeing them laugh and play even though they have endured so much pain. I think to myself "if they can do it, if they have endured this their entire lives + more, then there is no reason that I cannot do it as well". Haiti has given me a deeper passion and understanding for humankind. Here, things are so different- there is no bullshit- just real life problems. It is all about survival and helping each other. It is a completely different lifestyle. And I absolutely love it. I will always care for these children.. that was my intentions coming here, not to care for them for only a year or two then abandon them just like the rest of their parents/family has done. How would that be helping them at all? The uncertainty in my life makes every day that much more interesting. On the tough days I just look around at my children, my family, and friends in Haiti, and remind myself that I have no reason not to smile. I have met the most amazing people who carry the biggest hearts and most giving hands. I want to spend the rest of my life serving these people and helping to better their lives.. even if that means sacrificing my own. They are worth it. My children are worth it. If you want to find the meaning in your life, come to Haiti. I didn't simply come to Haiti to escape my "sh*tty" town, I didn't come here to help these children temporarily, I came here to raise these children and to provide them with the best life that I possibly can. Most of all, I came here to once again feel alive and to do something I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. I don't know how long I will be here, I don't know what my future holds. Right now each day is a gift to me and I am living my life one day at a time. I have endured some harsh trials that have nearly broke me, but in totality they have allowed me to grow and become a much stronger woman. They have made me feel as if I can overcome anything I want to. For the longest time I was living a selfish life- it was all about me. Volunteering has made me realize how much better life is when it is no longer about yourself, but about everyone else. All of my experiences have allowed me to grow up and to appreaciate the things I once took for granted.

Yesterday was a great day. My hero, my inspiration, my dear friend, and someone who has continuously onmotivated and encouraged me throughout this journey, came to visit us at the orphanage. Alison Thompson is filmmaker, an author, a volunteerism and woman's empowerment advocate, and she is the most courageous and bravest woman that I know. We had a blast with her. We loaded the kids into the back of a tap tap and headed to the beach. We had water gun fights, played frisbee and soccer, and soaked up the sun and the beautiful scenery. I was so glad to have our two newest volunteers with us (Brooke Kivell and Madison Nelmes) so that they had the opportunity to meet this amazing woman as well.

On Monday, Brooke, Madison, and I will be making the move to Tabarre to the new house that we will be renting for the summer until we are able to find something more permanent. We are all excited and desperately needing a fresh start. We are going ahead of the children to prepare the house and also so I can take the girls around Port Au Prince and bring them to places that I also used to volunteer at. I am excited to share with them the experiences that changed my life and allowed me to fall in love with Haiti. I can only hope that Haiti gives to them as much that it has given to me.

Every day I am learning more and more and realizing how precious life truly is. I can't express enough how important it is to live it to the fullest and how important it is to do what you think you cannot do and to take that leap towards happiness. You've got one life. No else can live it for you. I can honestly say that if I were to die today, I would be content with that. I have had an amazing life full of great experiences and wonderful people and I have now done what I thought I could not do. I can only hope that I have many more years to continue accomplishing even more of my goals and to meet even more wonderful people that inspire me.

Sending my love back home. You are all in my heart. I wish every day that you were here to experience and feel what I am feeling. If I had one wish, it would be to get all your butts on a plane to Haiti to experience "real" life.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Meetings, Meetings, & More Meetings

The past week has been absolute chaos. I began the week with a trip to Port Au Prince last Tuesday. I had a meeting with some government officials in regards to registering the orphanage and obtaining permanent residency. From there, I headed to Cap Haitian. I knew it was going to be a long drive, however, the 7 hour drive turned into a 9 1/2 hour drive due to a road block that made us take a detour through the mountains and voodoo villages. This wouldn't have been so bad if our truck had proper shocks and if the roads were paved. Let's just say I was a hurting unit after that trip and the three men I was traveling with sure got a kick out of it when I was crying in pain and asking them to stop and get me duck tape so I could tape down my boobs!! So, we finally arrived in Cap Haitian but we were all so tired from the drive that we had to post pone the meeting until Friday. We drove to Ouanaminthe (its about an hour from Cap Haitian) and we met with the organization called FEMAD. They have been sending children to school and helping their community for many years, however, since the earthquake they have been having financial problems and had to quit the sponsorships. They have a huge office, a medical clinic, and a big piece of land. They had many plans to build on the land but since they do not have the money to build, the land has just been sitting there. They said that if I am willing to help them and their community then they would allow me to have the land. I agreed we could partner and we decided to keep my organization name "Hime For Help" and I will simply add them under my organization. On Saturday they took me to the land and took me around to meet some of the children. I was introduced to two babies: 1. Stephanie- 4 months old - her mother died a week before I met her. 2. Christela- 6 months- her parents have abandonded her. They asked if I would be willing to take them into the orphanage. Of course, my heart could not turn them away. But, I made an agreement that I will only take them once I have a new house since ours is not big enough and once they complete the paper work for me to take her. Hopefully the girls will be joining us in July !!!

The trip to Ouanaminthe was successful. Due to the meetings being pushed back I had to try and rush back to Port Au Prince for my second meeting with Convoy of Hope. On our drive back from Ouanaminthe to Cap Haitian we stopped on the side of the road to get something to eat. The guys ordered me my food and we all sat in the truck and stuffed our faces. After I took a few bites they all started laughing and asked if I thought it was good. I said "yeah it tastes like every other goat I've eaten". They then informed me that it was not goat. They had tricked me into eating horse. I was so mad and disgusted. I definitely lost my appetite after that !!! Gotta love hanging out with men. We received news that there was a second road block- which meant I would not make it home in time for the meeting. Blanchard decided to make a pit stop at the airport and booked me a seat on the next plane which would be departing at 3pm. The flight was only 25 minutes long but it was the craziest flight I have ever been on. The pilots sure did not know how to fly a plane. It kept raising and dropping and I was sure we were going to crash. Everyone on the plane was beginning to panic and feel nauseas. But we landed safely !!!

I waited at the airport for my moto driver (Daniel) to pick me up. I was going to be staying at the Carribean Lodge with my friend Seanna. My meeting with Convoy of Hope was successful. They handed me an envelope with a donation and also told me that they will be sending food for us.

Since my meeting with Convoy of Hope, the meetings I was supposed to be in during my time in Port Au Prince have been multiplied. After every meeting it seems as if I gain two more meetings. I also had the opportunity to meet with Miriam Fedrick from New Life Orphanage who gave me amazing advice and guidance and also offered me a house to rent in Tabarre until we can complete the building. It is going to be $500 a month but it is big enough and has a large yard and a gate with barbed wire surrounding the property. I am hoping that we can come up with the funds to rent and that we can move down there within the next two weeks once our kids have finished school. Due to the safety of our children, volunteers, staff, and Montanna and I, as well as for our health and to meet the requirements of social affairs, we must move. I am exhausted and stressed but I am happy to finally get things going! I also met with an architect who is drawing out the plan for the orphanage, school, and guest house to be built on the land in Ouanaminthe. There is already a partially built building on the property and we are going to finish building that first so we can move there as soon as possible. It will be our temporary orphanage until we can build a larger one. However, to finish building that completely it will cost just under $40,000 US. So until we are able to come up with the funding, we are going to try to rent the house in Tabarre. Although this trip hasn't been the most "fun" trip, I have gotten a lot accomplished and I have met so many wonderful people that have now become close friends. Seanna, Daniel, Miriam, Blanchard, Julio, the staff at Carribean Lodge, and all of the UN workers I met have made this trip even better !!!

I am still in Port Au Prince and will be until tomorrow afternoon as I am meeting with a lawyer tomorrow morning to complete some paperwork for the registration of the orphanage. It is a long and tiring process- but it will be worth it !!

I am missing my babies so much and I was so glad to receive a phone call from them this morning. They passed the phone around and all said hi, asked how I was, when I would be coming back, and said I love you. That is the perfect way to start the day :) I can't wait to see them tomorrow.

Things have definitely not been easy for us, we have faced a lot of obstacles, but so far, we have been able to overcome them, and I can only hope and pray that we will be able to continue to overcome obstacles in the future as I know we are going to be facing many. One thing I've learned is that nothing worth having comes easy - especially in Haiti !!

I am still overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement I am receiving. I could not do it without it. Last night I received a phone call from Saghar- a lady who has done amazing work in Iran as well as in many other countries- her words of encouragement were definitely needed. I was amazed to be talking to someone who I had never met, who lives in another country, and who has the same passion as I do, and who was so inspired by my story. But the entire time she was talking, I was also very inspired by hers. She is planning to come and visit and to try to find us the support we need. I cannot wait to meet her !! I am also looking forward to receiving our two new volunteers on June 27th - Brooke & Madison who are also very young ladies with big hearts.

I have just returned from visiting the Baby Malnourishment clinic. I can't even put into words my experience and what I am now feeling. I saw the sickest of the sick and my heart is aching for them. Seeing the babies, and holding them, was another moment I will never forget. It was hard to hold back the tears. But I know that the babies are getting better and that they are in the right place receiving proper care. Life is so precious and we never know how long we have. Days like this makes me realize that every moment counts, you never know when your life could end, we have to live every moment as if it could be our last, the most important thing is to love with all of your heart. Never hate, and forget the things that cause you stress and anger for they are merely temporary things and will soon pass. Leave everyone with loving words, even if they don't want them. And most of all... Just be happy. Do whatever it takes to find your happiness and never lose it.

Still missing , everyone back home.
Much love & God bless

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Love knows no language..

I used to think that there was a rule book on how to live life and that people were judging me for not doing it right. I thought that if I did not live by the "normal" Canadian standards, I would not succeed in life. But now I have realized that there is no wrong or right way to live. There is only your way, the way that you see as fit, the way that meets your standards. I realized that the only thing that will allow me to fail at this life is if I allow fear to get in the way of doing what I need to do to be happy. So a few months ago I decided to get out of my own way, and I decided to finally live.

I didn't hate Canada or University; I just so desperately missed the country in which I had fallen so deeply in love with. I missed the children and the new friends that I had made. I missed the sense of belonging and the joy I felt when a child that had nothing would look at me and smile. I missed the challenges and the developing country lifestyle. Looking back now, I believe that during my time in Canada, I was trying my best to live a life that I was not intended to live. I wanted to obey my parents, but what they expected of me did not line up with what I was meant to be doing. This is not to say that my time in Canada was a complete waste or that indulging into University life was not necessary; or that I was not blessed beyond belief by all of the resources I was entitled to and the wonderful people that surrounded me. Because I was, I had more than I could ever ask for. I had just the right people in just the right places, at just the right time. Some people helped me to just get through each day on a practical level, some helped me fundraiser and allow my dreams to flourish, some like my best friends- Montanna, Rick, Brock, Dakota, Candice, and the man that I had fallen so deeply in love with just helped to hold my head and console me when I needed it most, even if they didn't necessarily understand.

I finally came to a point in my life where it no longer mattered to me what the world said, it did not matter that almost none of the people closest to me believed in what I was doing, or believed that I would be able to succeed. It did not matter what they said anymore because I chose to stop caring, I chose to put my heart first for once. I chose to do this, I chose to be here, in Haiti, because this is exactly where I belong. I feel a sense of worth here, that I am actually doing something useful with my life. I feel more love here then I have ever felt. My children have given me more then I can ever give them.

I never knew that I could be so happy with so little. That I could sleep on a mattress on the floor and be covered in cockroaches and sweat and still wake up in the morning feeling a sense of joy. I never knew that I could eat the same food everyday- rice, chicken, beans, and spaghetti, and be content with that. I never imagined that I would be okay with doing laundry by hand or be okay with not having electricity or running water. I never imagined that I would be living like this, but as hard as it is some days, I love it. Everyday is a new adventure and I have realized now that adventure is the best way to learn. I have learned that no matter what, no matter how hard things get, we can survive. Humans are built to survive. I am surrounded daily by the most beautiful and resilient people that I know. Living like this requires a lot of laughter, you have to look at the situation you are in and instead of feeling sorry for yourself or wishing you had more, you just have to laugh... A LOT. And you have to love even more.

We are still looking for land and trying to figure out future plans for Caleb's House. Some good news is that we FINALLY have a table !!! We purchased some wood and a friend of ours made us a big enough table to sit around and eat as a family- right now we are in the process of making benches. Also, we now have a fridge. Yesterday my friend from Port Au Prince dropped it off at the orphanage, I am so excited to use it, however, we are still waiting to purchase a generator. The past few days have been beach and ice cream days as it has been very hot. Last night the older girls had a party at their school so I gave them money to buy new shirts and sandals to look their best for their party. They came back so excited and showing off everything they bought. They looked absolutely beautiful. Although things have been difficult, we are managing. We are staying positive. Everyday I need to remind myself "if it's supposed to happen, it will". I am overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement we are receiving. I cannot express enough my appreciation for the people that are donating, offering words of wisdom or advice, or simply just sharing my blogs and spreading the word. As stressful as these days are, I am very excited to see what our future holds for us. I know that no matter what, I have these kids. And that is more than enough for me. My only desire is to give these children the lives that they deserve, I want to help them succeed in life, and I want to help them chase their own dreams. I want them to grow up feeling loved and knowing how to love others. I want them to have the passion to help others and to care for their own country. I want these kids to not simply just exist, I want them to live.

Haiti is in need of the most basic rights of life, and the only way to ensure that they obtain them, is to be here, to stay here, and to help in any way that you can. We all need to work together. We need to give Haiti the love and support that they deserve. Change one life, make one person smile, offer a hand to someone's suffering, and that will begin a wave for others to help as well. That will be the beginning of a change to come.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

& So This is Life...

Lately, my life could be considered chaotic. Actually, that does not even do it justice. Within the last month we have endured many hardships and have had to make many decisions based on our futures, as well as our children's futures. However, the last two weeks have literally spun my head around. From Malaria, to the loss of my uncle and not being able to make it home for the funeral, to a moto accident that resulted in a broken foot, dislocated knee, and a burn on the back of my leg, and now having a bad case of scabies that is spreading throughout the orphanage, I have become so overwhelmed and overcome with stress and emotion. I think the chaos is finally beginning to catch up to me.

On Friday, my friend Seanna contacted me and told me her plans to travel to Cite Soleil in search for a young boy who she was concerned about that may not have eaten in two weeks. I jumped at the opportunity to go. I needed some excitement and I wanted to so badly to help her find this boy. Seanna, Brandon, and I decided to hop on moto's and head into Cite Soleil- the slums of Haiti- the poorest and most dangerous place in the western hemisphere. Yes, on motos. We had no idea what to expect going into this area, but we were prepared to take on anything. However, on our way to Cite Soleil we were not expecting to get into a moto accident. Seanna and I were jamming to "Moves like Jagger" with our moto driver while Brandon was speeding ahead on his moto. Out of nowhere we were struck on the right side of the moto as well as on the front causing our moto to crash. The moto tipped and both Seanna and myself were stuck with our legs exposed to the tailpipe as well as exposed to the impact of the moto hitting our sides. We jumped up and both held onto our legs but our adrenaline was definitely pumping as we did not end up feeling our injuries until we hopped back onto the moto and continued on our way to Cite Soleil. The first thing we noticed was our burns. The exhaust from the cars that were passing us caused us an immense amount of pain. We still continued onto Cite Soleil and had a successful rest of the trip, other than being in pain. However, the pain became unbearable so we decided we needed to stop and get ourselves checked out and fixed up. As the adrenaline wore off, the morphine kicked in. I became so high from the morphine that I couldn't even keep my eyes open, I just kept laughing. It was awesome though, no pain !!! Later that night when I returned to the hotel room, still high on morphine, I began to feel the pain in my foot and in my knee. Turns out my foot was broken in two places and my knee was dislocated. In totality, it was still a great adventure and it will be yet another great memory to look back and laugh at. But for the meantime I am in a cast and on crutches and will be for a few weeks!

Today, I feel as if I am on another planet. I am feeling angry because I am not able to do the things I would usually do- run around, play soccer, pick up the kids, and even just get around- in Haiti, it is difficult to get around on crutches- especially when the crutches are too small for you. I am upset because I really want to be with my family, I wanted to attend my Uncle's funeral, and I want to be able to hug and console all of my family members during this difficult time. I am stressed because I want nothing but the best for these children and right now we need so many things and I do not even know where to start. We are in desperate need of a new house on top of everything else, as the one we are currently renting is way too small for fifteen people to be living in. My apartment back home was the size of our house now, and I was the only one living in it. We are all sharing one small, dark, and dirty bathroom. Our toilet does not work, our sink is literally ripped out of the wall, we do not have a light, and we also do not have a shower head. Bucket showers are our only means of getting clean- although they can be quite refreshing after long hot days. Our kitchen is just an empty room. We have no fridge, stove, table, or chairs. All of our nine children are crammed into one small room with bunkbeds. They have no room for their clothes and the heat is unbearable. My room consists of an empty room with a mattress on the floor. We have one chair to sit in and one wooden stool. We eat our meals scattered across the dirty floor. I never really thought of how crazy all of this is... until right now. I guess you don't really realize it, you just make do with what you have. And that is exactly what we have been doing. Although we may not have a lot of material objects, we do have a family, and this family consists of lots of love and that's more than enough for us.

I have spent the entire day sending emails, text messages, facebook messages, and making phone calls trying to seek assistance and trying to find land to purchase or a house to rent. All day I have literally felt like breaking down and crying, but I am trying to stay strong and I am trying my best to think positively. I have to keep reminding myself, this is life, it is not supposed to be easy. Rome was not built in one day. Thankfully my hero once again came to the rescue. Alison Thompson has been helping me out immensely, not only with finding support for the orphanage, but also with encouraging me to keep pushing on when I am about ready to give in. She has not only done remarkable work in Haiti, but also in other countries around the world. She is the strongest and most courageous woman that I know. "I think you just have to sit there and have a laugh at yourself- I did many times, it beats sorrow, etc. I remember collecting bodies all day and I was exhausted and sick and was sitting by the road with my shopping bags full of dead bodies and a little boy was running towards me with an arm and he finally got to me and popped it into the bag and he run off and I looked at the bag with legs and arms out of it and I took the boys dead arm and rearranged it then laughed out loud at the most ridiculous situation I was in and how I must have looked.. its all great life adventures some are up and some are very low.. but it is living and sure beats sitting at a bar back in usa getting drunk...... this is a good time to teach the kids how to look after you.. tell them sometimes you will get sick and the roles will be reversed and encourage them to be good caretakers as when they grow up they will need to care for people.. make a life lesson out of it for them. Some will have to get you things more instead of you jumping up and getting it yourself.... they in return will feel wanted and also that they have an important role in helping and are valuable." - Alison Thompson.

She is absolutely right. Lately I have been having my doubts, I have considered just giving it all up, but I can't. I know this is where I am meant to be, I know this is what I am meant to be doing despite all of the challenges. I know that if I were to give up and return to Canada, I would feel the same heartbreaking feeling that I felt only a few short months ago when I was in Canada longing to return to Haiti. Yes, life in Canada may be easier, but just because it is easier, does not make it right- or at least not for me. Challenges teach us lessons, challenges show us who we really are, they test us, and in the end, challenges make us stronger, they make us appreciate when things aren't so crazy, they allow us to realize that no matter what, we must keep pushing on. My heart is here in Haiti, and it will remain here. With my children, with my family, and with my friends.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance anyone could offer us right now with funding and also with finding a new location for Caleb's House. Literally, every cent counts! I think that is is essential for the children's safety, health, and all around well-being for us to relocate. We also still have a few kids that need sponsorships !!!! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue to overcome new challenges everyday. Life sure is exciting here, you never know what is going to be thrown your way (Hopefully no more moto accidents or malaria). Thank you to everyone who has been assisting us and offering us words of encouragement. Special thanks to Alison Thompson, Cindi Courbat, Rachel Girard Mattsson, Patty Higgins Blaise, Justin Parkinson, Mary Thompson, P.J Pitts (for helping me find a cast & crutches), Melissa Berman, Alexandra Genis, Convoy of Hope, Terry Kivell, Susan Steinhauser, and most of all my Mommy & Daddy.

Missing everyone back home. Much love.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

From the Heart..

She was 19 years old and it was the first time that she had truly loved anyone. For the longest time she did not believe she would ever fall in love, but despite their age gape and their many differences, she was. Completely head over heels.

In her eyes he was perfect, even though many people warned her of his flaws. He played the guitar and sang straight to her heart. He wasn't so hard on the eyes either. But for her that wasn't it. That is not what made her fall in love. When she was with him she could be herself; she could laugh with him; she could be completely silly; yet, when it was time to be serious or when something was wrong, she could lay in bed with him for hours having the deepest conversations that she had ever had with another being. She told him things that she had never told another. She let down her walls and opened her heart. They talked about their pasts, spoke about their present, and dreamed about their futures together. She felt this unbreakable connection and it scared her. He made her blush and giggle by saying things that only she would find funny. He made her heart flutter when he looked at her and made her heartache when they were apart.

They were far from being "perfect" for each other. She knew that it would be a challenge to maintain a relationship, but she was willing to fight for it. Although things were more than complicated, she could see a beautiful future full of laughter and love with him.

But she was stuck. She had two choices; either move to Haiti and live her dream and follow her passion or stay in a small town and fight for someone she truly loved - but the second option seemed like an uphill battle that she would never win. She could not force someone to love her back. Her heart was pulling her in two different directions and she knew she had to chose one. As hard as it was, her heart chose Haiti- she could see so many great possibilities and great things to come in Haiti where she knew she would just run her heart dry if she remained in the small town by trying to convince a man she loved him when he just would not believe it.

Leaving him behind nearly tore her apart. At first, it was only going to be for a year or two. She could do that. She would then come back to Canada, finish her University, and continue fighting for the man she loved. But then she became a mamma and she began to let more people into her heart. Everything then became a lot more complicated. She finally came to terms that she had to stay in Haiti. That was no problem, it would be hard, but she decided to hold onto her love because remaining full and comfortable was so much easier than dealing with the hurt and the emptiness that she would feel if she let go.

She begged and prayed that he would come to Haiti or that somehow they could figure out a way to make things work. But even though he fully supported her work in Haiti and stayed in contact with her when she made the official move, he never seemed too interested or able to envision himself living the life that she embraced. He had his own life in Canada and his own dreams to follow. She wanted so badly to live in both worlds, but it became impossible. Her eyes were opened and her life had made drastic changes within the first few weeks of living in Haiti. She couldn't pretend to be the same person anymore. She knew that she had to let go. She knew it was time to realize that she could not have both things that her heart longed for.

Even though he was not with her physically, he still made her glow with happiness as she walked through her new life as a single mother covered in dirt and constantly facing new obstacles. Even though they were miles apart he was still someone he could talk to about anything. He believed in her when everyone else told her that what she was doing was unrealistic or stupid, he cheered her on, and he picked her up when she became too weak to carry on. Seeing his name come up on her phone turned the worst days into the best.

Her heart ached, she cried, and she became somewhat depressed. But her nine children gave her the love and strength to carry on. Even though she knew that it was time to let go, it did not mean that she loved him any less. She still prayed every night that somehow they would cross paths again.

Some nights she cried her eyes out, to the point where she could hardly breathe. She missed him and just wish she could curl up beside him after a tough day. She wondered if she could ever love anyone like that again, she wondered if she would forever be alone. But every time she thought that, she was reminded that she wasn't alone, that her children would make her just as happy as a single mother covered in dust and dirt. They reminded her that they appreciated her and that they also believed in her when no one else did. They picked her up and gave her the strength when she felt to weak to carry on. They possessed the power to turn her worst days into the best with a kiss on the cheek or when they fell asleep in her lap. They would always be faithful to her and their love would be unconditional. They reminded her that they would never leave or forsake her and that they would make all things new; including her shattered heart. They filled her heart with so much love and joy and even though she still feels pain and a sense of loss.. she is complete. Her children have given her more than she could have ever imagined. She has now allowed nine little people into her heart and they possess every piece of it. Her heart is now in their little hands.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Twenty- Malaria & Heatbreak

I turned twenty on Wednesday and I spent my entire birthday marveling at the last year of my life, in particularly, the last few months. Between nineteen and twenty I learned to be a teacher, a nurse, a mentor; I learned to love another with all of my heart and most of all... I learned to be a mother. I never could have imagined that at twenty years old I would be living miles away from home in a developing country and raising nine children. Within this past year I have learned some of the most important lessons through my travels and through my experiences. Although I have been apart of some amazing stories with brilliant endings, I have also had my fare share of tragedies. Being in this line of work, and being in a country that contains a mass amount of disease and poverty, people are going to die. You are going to hear and see things that will haunt you forever. As painful as some of these memories are, they are ones I never want to forget. These memories have taught me so much and continue to teach me today. From each experience, no matter how hard it was or how much it hurt, I took something from it, I learned from it.

Things that I have learned in this past year:

I've learned that Life is messy, it always will be. Things are going to happen that do not make sense but you have to learn to accept the changes that come your way and embrace life the way it is.

I've learned that you have to stop trying to change people. No one will ever change unless they want to change themselves. You will exhaust yourself in the process.

I've learned that it is important to spend more time with those you make you smile and less time with those who cause you to self-destruct or cause you pain.

I've learned to never tell someone that their dreams are impossible, because if you do not have faith in them, they will lose faith in themselves and one day they may prove you to be a fool.

I've learned that materialistic things will never bring happiness. True happiness comes from the little things in life. The things that touch our hearts and souls.

I've learned not to judge people, ever. You will never know all of the details of their lives and what they have endured throughout their life.

I've learned that if you want to feel rich, help others. It is the most rewarding thing in the world.

I've learned that even when you feel as if you can no longer go on… you can.

I've learn that loving someone doesn't always mean keeping them. Sometimes, it also means you have to let them go.

I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I've learned that when following your goals and dreams, there is no doubt that you are going to be disappointed along the way. People will always try to discourage you. Do not let them. These are merely bumps in the road and if you keep driving along, eventually you will reach your destination.

I've learned that what does not kill you will always make you stronger. Every time that you are faced with a difficult situation or something unplanned and unpleasant occurs in your life you will grow and learn from it.

I've learned that the people that truly love you are the ones that will be there when you hit rock bottom. They will love you even when you have lost your way and are unsure of how to get back on track. They will be there to lift you up and will support you no matter what decisions you may make in life. They will proudly stand by your side and encourage you to reach your full potential.

I've learned that when you feel like you have nothing, always remember there are always people with less than you. Go help them. You will develop a better understanding of how fortunate you truly are.

I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. The same goes for true love.

I've learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who do not even know you.

I've learned that when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, or even a complete stranger, you will find the strength to help.

I've learned that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I've learned that the people you love most are often taken from you too soon.

I've learned that sometimes you have to be your own hero. You cannot wait for someone else to save you or to make you happy. Your life is in your hands, only you know what to do with it.

I've learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many years you have lived.

I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I've learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I've learned that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different

These past two weeks have once again been difficult. For most of the week I was bedridden with a sevre fever and pain. I was diagnosed with Malaria, as well as Montanna. Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium. The protists act as parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma or death. Not only did I suffer from a fever and headache but also suffered from a chest infection, muscle pain, fatigue, spleen enlargement, the chills, loss of appetite, my skin became sensitive, and I had a great deal of pain in my eyes as Malaria can cause retinal damage due to the fact that the parisities actually feed off of the oxygen and nutrients in the eyes. I am not fully recovered yet but I am definitely feeling better and on the mend. Special thanks to Lesly and Brunache who have been taking care of both Montanna and I.

I had a great birthday. I spent most of the day at the orphanage with the kids and Montanna and Brandon bought me a birthday cake and some drinks. I have spent my past two birthdays in Haiti and I could not imagine spending them anywhere else. Although I had a fabulous time, I did receive some news that night that I was not expecting. A friend of mine from Haiti was visiting the states for a few months. I worked with him last summer at Hopital Espoir and he is an amazing nurse and a great friend. He was supposed to return the day before my birthday and I had not heard from him. On Wednesday I found out that he had suffered from a seizure and was brought to the hospital and had an MRI. They found a tumor in his brain. The tumor developed from eating pork in Haiti that contained parasites. He is still unable to return to Haiti as they as still waiting to see if they are going to operate or not. I am hoping and praying that he will have a quick recovery and that he will be able to return to Haiti soon. On top of that, I also received news that my Uncle was in the hospital in London and was not doing well.

Brandon and I left for Port Au Prince yesterday morning at 6am. We would be heading into Cite Soleil and await for my friend Brunache to pick us up and drive us to Petionville to meet with Emmanuel- a friend of Melissa Berman's who had raised money to buy things for Caleb's House. As I was standing in the middle of Cite Soleil (the poorest and most dangerous place in the world) being harassed by a group of men, I received a heartbreaking text message. Normally, I would never take out my cell phone when I am in Cite Soleil, but for some reason I chose to do it yesterday. Cite Soleil is scary and upsetting as it is and it is not a place where you want to receive bad news as you do not want to be distracted. I glanced down at my phone though as I tried to keep it hidden in my pocket and saw that I had a missed call and a text message. I read the message. It was from my Dad explaining that my uncle had passed away that morning. My Uncle Mark was suffering from liver disease. He was in the hospital in London awaiting a transplant but his body became too weak and they had to remove him from the transplant list. Within a few days he developed an infection in his body and was unable to fight it. Uncle Mark was the most kind hearted man, always cared about his family, and had a great sense of humor. I wanted to cry, I wanted to just fall to the ground, but I couldn't, not there at least. As I was reading the message I had a guy in my face trying to make me buy things- sunglasses and some sort of bread. At that point I snapped and told him to go, I just wanted to be back home laying in my bed and crying into my pilow. Finally, my friend Brunache found us standing in the middle of the Cite Soleil bus station and picked us up. As soon as I got into the car he could tell something was wrong. I called my Dad as soon as the car door was shut and was finally able to break down and cry. I wanted to go home that very second. I wanted and still want to be with my family desperately. Its moments like these that make it so difficult to be so far away from home.

As I am sitting here at a beautiful hotel in Petioville enjoying a delicious breakfast and overlooking Port Au Prince and the surrounding mountains, I can't help but feel a sense of calmness. This is the side of Haiti that most people will never see. I am still wishing to be home and to be with my family, but I know I am meant to be here, I know my Uncle Mark is looking over me and I know he will always be with me even if I cannot make it home right now. Heaven definitely gained another angel yesterday. Praying for my family and praying that they will find love and strength during this difficult time. Love and miss you all.

Please also pray for Brandon, Seanna, and myself as we are heading into the heart of Cite Soleil this afternoon to find a boy that was being looked after by Seanna's friends who have been arrested and are stuck in Hatian jail. We are unsure if the boy has even had a meal in weeks. Hoping we can find him there !! This is going to be some adventure. Fingers crossed that we make it out alive !!