Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Dekole, Ole, Ole...

Sitting in Miami airport .. It is currently 6:12 pm and in 2 hours I will be headed home to the great north and strong. It seems that whenever the plane begins to descend to touch down on Florida grounds, my heart races and my eyes fill with tears. It happens every time I leave Haiti. And for these last couple trips I keep asking myself why ? Why at that exact moment do I feel as if my entire body was hit by a freight train. I still don't fully understand it but maybe I'm not meant to. I think a part of it has to do with finally realizing I'm away from my comfort zone, that I'm missing my babies and Haitian family already, that I'm anxious to see my Canadian family, but most of all because I know that every time I leave, a part of me changes. I know that when I return home I will not be the same person I was when I left a few short months ago. And I know that when I return to Haiti I will have also changed. Going home to Canada is where I have time to stop, reflect on my absolutely crazy and chaotic life on the small Caribbean island, and it really makes me realize how ungrateful I once was as my small childish self took everything for granted. Stepping back into the house I grew up in brings back memories that flood my mind .. Good and bad. In my small town im bound to see the people I have eliminated from my life due to fall outs, heartbreaks, or just for obvious reasons and I'm also bound to see those who I have been trying not to eliminate but to put in the back of my mind .. As thinking of them while over seas hurts more then salt water in a cut. Going home is always mixed emotions. However, as like any thing that is difficult or uncomfortable in life .. You grow from it.

My heart aches leaving Haiti because I so desperately wish they could come up with a cloning machine so I could be in two places at once.. Instead .. My heart is stretched and pulled at both ends. I miss my babies, my Haitian family, friends, and my wee best friend already. Today has been one interesting day - forgot my passport and was stuck at the port au prince airport- thanks to Val who rushed over on a Moto with my passport (my life) in his hands. Make it just on time for my flight. Haven't been feeling well the past two days and of course as the plane jumps into the air my stomach jumps into my mouth. Thank god for the little bags they leave at the back of the seats. I slept most of the way to Miami and woke as the plane was beginning to touch down and while I fought with all my might to keep my raging emotions bottled inside. I got off the plane and headed to customs. I began to become frustrated with the customs officer as he wasn't understanding what I was saying - that was until I realized I was no longer in Haiti but the United States- a country that does not speak kreyol.. I now understand why he was looking at me as if I had 5 heads.

Anyways .. I'm here in Miami safe and sound with a crappy cold/sinus infection that my best friend so generously gave me (yes that's you Maeve). Although that heart of mine is being pulled in so many directions right now .. It begins to beat faster knowing that I get to see my baby brothers tonight !!! Can't wait to run and kiss them and hug them in the airport and of course embarrass them- something I am very talented at :)

Be back soon Haiti. Take care of my babes and my loved ones until I get back. & Canada .... Please be gentle tonight as I step out of the airport in my Capri pants and not make me into a human icicle.

Going back to listening to some jperry, kreyol-la and shaggy now and pretending I'm still under the hot sun dancing like beyonce (or pretending I'm beyonce and making a fool outta this blan) before reality hits me.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas in Haiti ..

It is Christmas Eve And as I sit here tonight with a heavy heart and a head full of thoughts I look back on the last 8 months of my life and all of the things that have nearly broken me, the things that have tested me, and the things that have impacted my life in such a great way that I will never be the same person I was last year, yesterday, or ten minutes ago. I am still learning more about myself, this world, Haiti, it's culture, and why I'm here each and every second that passes.

In two days I will be returning to Canada once again. Up until about a week and a half ago I was so excited to go home, to get outta here, and to have a little bit of normalcy in my life for two weeks. Oh right, and sleep. However, recently I had a large group of volunteers and watching them walk around Haiti and ask questions it made me think a lot about my life and why exactly I am here in Haiti as I have briefly touched on it in previous blogs but never sat down and just let my heart speak. I started crying. I have been stressing so much in these past few months trying to piece together my life and figure out my future. How am I going to make a living ? How am I going to be able to support myself and hopefully a family one day? I can't do that by just simply volunteering and living off the $100 a month I get from my mom. As one of my volunteers said "do you think you are actually going to stay here or do you think you can go home and live there and just know that you can come back whenever you want?". This question tugged at my heart and made me admit something's I have been trying to deny to myself for the last few months. This is my life. This is my home. This is the place where I truly feel alive. Where I have the freedom to be myself and not be judged. To make the most radical decisions and to literally live each day as if it was my last. I feel comfortable here. At times I get so down and wish my life could just be normal and consistent. I sometimes wonder if I ruined my future by making this huge decision at such a young age. I think about having a family, a husband, a salary...
And then I think about Haiti. About my children and my friends and my life here. How can I leave that behind ?

The sad truth is .. I can't. As much as I desire the luxuries of home some days, I know that in my heart as soon as I return home it will be aching to come back. I know that although I am frustrated and stressed and feel as if I'm going insane, the depression when I return home would out do that.

Why am I in Haiti ?
I used to believe I was in Haiti for everyone else. But recently I have realized I am in Haiti for selfish reasons. I am in Haiti for me. Because when I see people smile after one small gesture of kindness.. It makes me feel good. It makes my entire body dance with joy and makes me feel like I am doing something more then sitting In an office or inside a building collecting zeros on my pay cheque. I am in Haiti because this is where I have found my heart. This is where I am happy. Every day I cross paths with the most amazing, interesting, and wise people.

As I sit here tonight I am missing Christmas. I am missing hot chocolate, stockings, the smell of a fresh cut tree. And most of all my family. Christmas in Haiti is not as well celebrated as back home, however, while I'm currently driving in a taptap I am passing loads of people on the streets wearing Santa hats and laughing and drinking and it brings a smile to my face as Christmas here has true meaning- being together is all that matters. The government decides to give electricity all night as a gift to the city. It looks so beautiful all lit up. I can honestly say that I love this country. As much as I curse it out and as much as some days I feel like taking a step off my beautiful balcony .. It owns my heart in a very twisted way. I guess you could say "its a love haiti relationship". I am sad tonight as I know there are kids digging through the garbage right outside my door and families that are going to bed hungry. It hurts me to know how absolutely fortunate I was growing up and how I didn't realize it until now. I never really thought Santa was a big deal until this year .. Yes I am passed the point of believing.. But he is an important character in many children's lives back home and I wish it was the same here. Santa brings hope and excitement and teaches us about giving but most of all it allows us to use our imagination and believe in something even though you can't see it. But then again .. How are children supposed to believe in Santa when most have never had a present under their tree .. Let alone a tree to put presents under. All I want for Christmas this year is for people back home to stop and look at their house right now .. Look at the lights, the happiness, the presents and food .. And not to be saddened by it but to remember those out there that are sleeping on the streets or digging through garbage to find one small crumb of food. And please remember just how fortunate we all truly are no matter what battles we may currently be facing. I am so grateful to be able to spend Christmas with my amazing children, my staff, volunteers, and my best friend !!!

I love and miss you all back home and will see some of you very soon. Happy Christmas everyone !

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Oh for the Love of Haiti...

It’s not the middle of the night or anything, but I have already attempted to go to sleep once tonight. I was almost successful too. So much so that I kept nodding off while reading "A Fine Balance" and only woke up when my head hit my laptop with a thump.

I have a confession to make. It may be shocking to some of you. Here it goes. I’ve realized in this last week that yes, I'm actually human. I think I have finally hit the point of complete exhaustion and frustration and my mind has been sending mixed messages and doubts. I have never doubted Haiti.. ever. But right now my mind, my body, and my soul have possibly just reached their limits. My life is complete chaos. It has been for the last 7 months and 17 days but right now it is at an all time high. My head is constantly racing and I can't even keep up with my own thoughts. I currently have 3 teething babies, 1 of which is hospitalized at Hopital Espoir with a constant fever and distended stomach, another at home with Diarrhea and a chest infection, and the other.. well she's actually doing pretty well- finally has grown some hair and started laughing, playing, and talking. The biggest problem I am having in Haiti is how long it takes for anything to be accomplished or organized. When I set my mind to something, I do it. I do not like to put things off. However, in Haiti, that's all people seem to do. There is never any rush, the concept of time seems to be non-existent. To say the least, our desks that were supposed to be finished 3 weeks ago, have finally be completed today !!!!! I am also frustrated with being a "blan". I hate it and most of all I hate arguing. But in Haiti, it has become a constant thing. It seems like the majority of my time is consumed by arguing with people about prices and also about basic information and facts whether it be about hygiene, health, or discipline -it seems that since I'm a foreigner my advice is not valid as I need to do things the Haitian way- but for some reason I can't seem to stay in pissed covered clothes all day after a baby decides to go to the toilet on me- for me, its common sense that I would change my clothes due to hygienic concerns (bacteria) , for my kids, not so much. I wish they could understand that I am here to help them, not to harm them. And that by asking them to change their dirty clothes is to make sure that they stay healthy, not only for my benefit, but for theirs !!! Money has never been important to me, EVER, but doing this "job" and taking care of children and relying on donations to feed them, clothe them, and educate them, money has become everything and I truly hate this part of my "job". I have realized that money does turn one bitter- whether it be that you have too much, or if you have too little. I am so worried that most of my days are being eaten up with stress and with me sitting at my computer screen constantly trying to seek funding, answering emails, or doing paperwork that I am losing valuable time with my kids who so greatly need my attention. I think I need a vacation. I have never felt the desire to leave Haiti, but right now I am counting down the days until December 27th when I head home for a two week break to spend some time with my Canadian family.

Some days I wonder if I'm making a big mistake. I have those small moments when I wonder "Am I nuts for doing this, for living like this?" It’s easy to question my life here because let’s face it, normal hardly blips on the radar. After sitting down with staff and also the kids and going over some much needed rules, I am hopeful that things may start to fall back into place and I'm beginning to remember some of the wonderful things about living here. Things like the roosters crowing bright and early (something that most people don't find wonderful about living here until you actually leave the country and return home). The dogs barking. The beautiful mountains and sea. The stickiness of layers of sweat and body goo. The feeling of dirt gathering on the bottoms of your feet. The way a good breeze can bring back your sanity. I keep reminding myself why I am here and why I fell in love with this country. I am trying to spend less time on my computer and more time doing the things I love - watching my kids laugh, spending time with the boys from the tent city, and just enjoying the beauty of Haiti. Life has a way of passing you by when immersed in so much change. I know that this is just another test that God has put in my path and that I need to stay focused and be determined to overcome it. And I know that I will overcome it. Volunteering is my passion, my way of life. The stoke I get from seeing someone smile from a simple gesture of kindness is pure joy. Life is an adventure, and sometimes you wipe out and lose your way but like my Dad always says "you gotta just keep pluggin along" and as my favourite quote states "this too shall pass". I know in my heart that I can do this, and I know in my heart that this phase will pass. I know that I have to have faith that everything is happening for a reason and that once again, I will only grow stronger. I will not break, I cannot break. I have too many little hands and hearts depending on me.

Next week I have 5 volunteers (six including Justin who is already here) joining us. I am so excited for them to come as I know they will be a huge help with the kids and keep my mind off of the more stressful things. I know our house is going to be full or laughter and joy and warm hearts and I cannot wait. I am also trying to get things organized for Christmas, I had promised the boys earlier this year that I would buy them a bike, so I am on the hunt for a decent bike for a good price. I love seeing all of the Christmas lights up and it makes me miss back home. This will be one unique Christmas, my first Christmas without snow, without cold, without my Canadian family, and without the comforts of home, but I am totally looking forward to it and excited to see my kids faces on Christmas morning. I am currently working on a lesson plan for tomorrow's English class. This class has already brought me so much joy and smiles and I truly look forward to the classes to come and watching the kids learn and grow. As tough as things are, just writing this blog has helped me. I am currently smiling after typing about Christmas and my kids- two things I truly love. Life is good. And I can only think that it is going to get better. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for baby Jodnise and the rest of us at Ke Kontan and also thank you to those who have continued to support us on this journey. There is no way that we could have come so far without all of you.