Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Coming and Going..

I'm heading somewhere I want to go, but leaving somewhere I want to stay.

Is it too dramatic to say leaving feels like death? I have to leave once again to return to University and I know that I won’t be back for a couple of months and in those passing months, things and people will change. That's inevitable. My kids will have grown taller. My babies will be talking more. My little girls will have started their first day of school. Emilio will be crawling. And every second lived during my time away is weighted down with the knowledge that I can’t have these moments that I will miss back.

I have left many times in the past and have arrived just as many times. Though it might seem like I should be used to this, adjusted to the countdown and the onslaught of sensory details, both in leaving and in arriving, I’m not. I don’t want to be. This time coming "home" to Haiti meant something different to me. It took courage and every ounce of strength I had left in me. It was reuniting with my children after a quick departure and without a proper goodbye last year. It was about mending open wounds. After being forced to leave my home, my children, and my life in Haiti last year due to some unimaginable security issues… I turned bitter. I hurt every single day. I mourned the loss of a life.. my life. I couldn't think about Haiti. I couldn't talk about Haiti. Because the hurt was too much to bear. My kids would call and I would have to hang up the phone because the sounds of their voices sent the sharpest pain through my heart. I wanted to be back. I wanted to be holding them. But at that moment, I knew I couldn't. So instead, the only thing I could do to "survive" was to try and not think about Haiti. That was an impossible task. The yearning for my children and for my home nearly killed me. Coming back and stepping foot onto the Haitian soil again, I cried. I smelled the air, heard the noises, saw the people, and said to myself "I'm Home". It was in that instant, of stepping off the plane, that I knew that I was back where I belonged. That empty void I had been feeling for months was quickly filled back up. I felt a sense of pride. Yes, I was proud of myself for coming back. For finding the strength. For losing the fear. And then when my gate opened and I saw my kids running towards the vehicle with open arms.. my heart exploded. Holding them again was something I can't even put to words. It was magical. It was as if no time had passed. Our love and trust for each other remained strong even though we had been separated by thousands of miles. We never stopped thinking of each other. We never stopped loving each other. Ever.

I soaked up every minute of these past few months. I didn't want to let them go. We sat around telling stories, playing music, being silly, and just absorbing all of the time we possibly could. We all knew that I would have to leave again come September, but none of us wanted to think about that. For once, I stopped worrying about the future, stopped thinking about leaving, and enjoyed every single minute I had with the children who have stolen my heart and changed my life. I cherished every moment with my friends who have been there for me through some of my most difficult days, who have helped both the children and I, and who understand completely how difficult Haiti can be and how hard it is to have your heart split between two places. Most of these friends I have not known long, but I know our friendships will last a lifetime. I spent time with my neighbours who greeted me by shouting my name as they saw me drive by and running at me for hugs and kisses. They didn't forget me. I realized how beyond blessed I am.

There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns- small intuitive flashes, when you know you have done something correct for a change, when you think you are on the right track. I was holding Emilio and watching Tyson sleep a few nights ago, when I realized that my lunatic idea to move to Haiti at the age of 19 was the right one.

People always ask me "Don't you want a life for yourself", "Your only in your twenties, shouldn't you be doing other things?". Every time I heard someone say that I never knew how to answer or how to react. At first I would feel offended but then I would start asking myself the same question. I was always trying to figure out the right way to answer. After thinking about that question for awhile, it suddenly just hit me while I was holding Emilio and watching my other babies sleep. I realized that I never knew how to answer that, and I always felt confused with the the statement "Don't you want a life for yourself"... because... this is MY LIFE. This is the life I chose to live for myself. This is where I want to be. Yes, I am in my twenties, yes most of my friends are out partying and living up the university lifestyle, yes sometimes I wonder what it would be like to spend a day doing what they do and not having to think little a forty year old, but the truth is ... I could not imagine spending my days doing anything else. I am incredibly lucky. I get to watch these beautiful children grow into such incredible little beings full of hope, dreams, and happiness. I get to see their first steps, hear their first words, be there every step of the way. They fill my life with a type of joy and pride that I never knew existed. I am truly happy. What more could I want ?

This trip confirmed something for me that I had been struggling with. I have struggled trying to decide exactly where I should be. I felt guilty being in Haiti and leaving my family and friends in Canada, but then coming to Canada I feel guilty for leaving my children and friends in Haiti. It's a constant war within my own heart. But this time, I sat back on the top of the mountain with the wind blowing and the ocean in view and just stopped thinking. I stopped trying to figure it out. Instead, I felt something. I felt that same familiar tug in my heart that I had felt when I first arrived in Haiti. I took a deep breath in and said "this is home".

I have returned to Canada, but not for long. I am going to be completing this semester of school (until December) here in Ontario, but will be heading back to Haiti in January as my University has offered me enough online classes that I will be able to finish my degree while being with my kids. I am anxious and excited to see what the future holds.

Thank you to all of my friends and family in Haiti & Canada for always welcoming me home. I am so grateful for all of you.

"Family isn't always blood, it's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what"- Unknown

Saturday, 9 August 2014


I have been sitting here in this hard plastic chair for 8 hours now. I have been holding onto a small frail hand that won't let go of my finger. I have fluorescent emergency room lights shinning in my eyes. Tears are beginning to fall. My heart hurts. It's the type of hurt that actually physically aches. I am shattered having to watch this child suffer. I am angry - I am angry that no one has interfered sooner. That bystanders passed on by. And that her own mother gave up hope and only sought help after it almost became too late. I am feeling helpless knowing that the most I can do now is sit here and love this child. Hold her. Pray for her. And hope to God we are given a miracle.

It's hard for me to come home (to my house in Haiti) from the hospital and see my children laughing and playing. I can't help but hug and squeeze them all. I am telling them I love them more than ever (I think they are getting annoyed). But I can't help but think that this could have been one of my children. One of my babies. The unfairness in this world is so hard to understand. What did this beautiful innocent little girl do to deserve to suffer like this? Who decided this fate for her? Why was she born into a society where there is a lack of resources and medical care? Why her? Why not me?

I can't make sense of this. I never will be able to answer these questions. I will never understand why there is suffering like this while people back home are sitting around their dinner tables enjoying a four course meal and occupying their minds with television. All I know is that I have to keep trying to make this right. I have to fight and defend this child. That is my responsibility as a human being. Everyone always asks me why I don't "help the children in my own backyard"... I can assure you that we would NEVER see suffering like this in North America. We would never just walk by a child on the street who is hungry and crying. We would never have to worry about how we would get that child to a hospital or worry about being refused because we do not have enough money. It just would not happen. But here, this happens every day.

It happens to the people I have grown to love and call my friends and family. It happens to the people who have been there for me when I have fallen ill and who have given up their only water supply when I was dehydrated. Who have spent the few dollars that they had earned, working tirelessly and hard, that month to purchase medicine or food for me when I was too ill to do so myself. Who dies because they have literally NO FOOD, NO WATER, NO ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE?

My friends do. My family does. My fellow human beings.

This hurt I am feeling, this anger bubbling inside of me, this suffering I am witnessing, it only motivates me to keep going. To keep fighting for what I know is right. It is so easy to turn an eye on the suffering here- there is just so much of it. I know I cannot save them all, I know I probably cannot save this little girl, but I have to try. It is the only thing that can ease my heart. Knowing that I did all that I possibly could do. That I didn't turn my head.

Tonight as you sit in front of your computers reading this, please pray for Nassa, and please give thanks to our education systems for giving us the ability to read this, as over 50% of the population here is illiterate. While you take a hot shower tonight, please remember how fortunate you are to have that water. When you open your cold refrigerator door, look at the abundance of food you are fortunate to have. As you kiss your children good night, please realize how lucky you are to be able to provide even one meal a day for your child, to be able to tuck them into a bed, or to be able to rock them to sleep. If you are ill, please be grateful for our healthcare system- although we often like to complain- we are so incredibly blessed to have the healthcare we do. And please if you are able to avoid one trip to the drive thru this week and to donate even $5 or $10 to give children like Nassa hope and provide them with the care that they are in desperate need of please visit our website and click the donate button at the top of our page. Thank you to all of you who have contributed to Nassa's medical expenses and who have supported our Children's Home. We could not keep doing it without you.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Dear my 19 Year Old Self

Dear my 19 year old self- You, with the big dreams and veins full of adventure. Your getting ready to embark on the greatest journey of your life. Can I have a minute? I know you have laundry to do, emails to answer, and diapers to change, but if I may?

First of all, let me assure you – you make it! Yep, you endure a heck of a lot and you sure know the definition of "struggle".. but you do survive it ALL. More than you can imagine. So you can relax – everything does really come together and you really do get on the plane, and you really do dedicate the rest of your life to a group of children you have yet to meet. Though, you must know, that ‘crazy’ label must be stuck with crazy glue because you will forever have someone somewhere thinking it. But you had that tug in your heart, right?

So before you pack your entire existence into two suitcases, and before go through all the security check points and step foot into the country that will leave you hoarse and would have cost you your sanity had you not already given that up months ago, let me just talk to you and tell you a few things. About yourself. About your life.

You are enough. You will feel like you don’t measure up and that all your efforts are in vain. You will feel the stares of people assessing every detail of your life. You will hear the hurtful comments and feel the sting of rejection, no matter how strong you think you are. You will question yourself and all that you are doing. You’ve got to grab that bottle of crazy glue and stick this truth to your heart of hearts: you are enough.

See beauty. You are going to go through some tough days where anger, frustration, and hurt overtakes you. Take a break. Go for a drive. Look at the beautiful mountains and sea. This will be the "scenery" that will always take you back to sanity. Look at the aged eyes in young children and see hope. Look at the families who hold so tight to each other and see unconditional love. Don’t turn your eyes from the hurting, keep looking until you see yourself in them.

You will never regret the hundreds and thousands of hours and dollars invested in creating a loving home and becoming apart of a new culture.

You will never regret learning to love the land your children know as their home.

You will never regret the efforts to stay tight with your friends. Go to those parties. Take the trips. Celebrate. Be each others biggest fans. Love big, often, and wholly. And don't feel so guilty for taking a night off to indulge with them.

Your greatest regrets will come from times when you backed away from human connection, when you prioritized doing over being, and when you forgot that the world is not so black and white.

Stop trying to please everybody, trying to be all things to all people. At this point, you've got all the tools it takes to trust your instincts, and your instincts are good ones. Realize that no matter what you do, you will always have critics. Keep going.

Learn to be patient, uncomfortable and alone, because, as you've always said, this too shall pass. You need to become familiar with all three of these things if you plan to live away from home and in a foreign country for an extended period of time.

Start focusing a little more on your health. I know you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off but take a break. Relax. Recover. Both for your mental and physical health.

You are going to lose many people dear to your heart in the next three years. You will hurt in ways you never knew you could. You will be angry, confused, and heartbroken. Time will heal the loss and pain of a broken heart, however, some losses, will last a lifetime. The pain diminishes, but the wound never fully heals. Be content with knowing that they are watching over you. Accept and acknowledge the fact that you will meet again.

People will try to discourage you. Don't let them. Believe in yourself. Don't be afraid of not succeeding. Be more afraid of NOT trying and living with regret. If you fall, pick yourself up, and keep moving forward. A few years from now, you'll be saying this to your kids a lot, too.

All of those nights you cry yourself to sleep worrying about the kids and wondering how you will provide food for the next day. Don't. Wipe away those tears. Like always, someone comes through. You have an incredible amount of people who have your back and will not let you fall. Don't be so afraid to ask for help. The children will never starve. Your supporters will not let that happen.

You know all of those future plans you had? Hang on to them. It will bring you laughter after about 2 years into this life that looks like trying to make it out alive while you teeter along on a broken sidewalk, in a never ending earthquake, during a hurricane, while suffering from malaria, typhoid, or cholera.. impossible. Your plans will always be changing. You will learn that you must just "go with the flow".

You are going to get burnt out. You are going to lose any bit of sanity you had left. "Shitty" (that's sugar coating it) events are going to occur that test you to your core. You are going to breakdown. You are going to lose your way. You are going to hit rock bottom. You are going to have to relearn trust and you will have to rebuild your self confidence. But keep holding on. You have a bunch of beautiful babies counting on you to pull through. Go home. Take a break. Regroup. Get your "mojo" back. And then return with pride and fight harder than ever. Let all of those dreams of yours once again flourish. You will come back stronger than ever. You can and you will do it.

Okay, so go wipe snotty noses and change hundreds of dirty diapers. Cherish each and every moment you spend watching your babies grow. Look back and realize how far you have come. Keep laughing and loving through every obstacle thrown your way. Use music as an outlet. It will save your life. And Surround yourself with those that encourage you and lift you up. Now go get on that plane and let the rest of your life begin.