Ke Kontan

Ke Kontan

Sunday, 29 March 2015

There's Always a Cost

These past two weeks have been just as chaotic as normal. We have been without a vehicle now for months- the engine blew- and I think that has been one of the most frustrating things out of them all. The mechanic keeps saying that the car will be fixed in a few days.. but of course, those few days have now turned into weeks and months.

We have had quite a few volunteers since I've returned full time which has been great. Everyone has helped out somehow, whether that be bringing in some much needed supplies, spending quality time with our kids, or thinking of new projects for the house and new ways to network. We are hoping to host a few more teams this summer as we now have many specific projects that we will need help with. So if anyone is interested please don't hesitate to contact me!

Jonette and Christella have improved immensely. They are both laughing and playing and seem to finally be coming around. After finding a one on one worker for Jonette, she has also begun to improve. She has finally started speaking and I have discovered that she absolutely loves music! She still has her days where she "escapes" (hiding her face and being unresponsive) and she has been sick with some kind of bug for the past few days, but I am happy to say that things are looking up for her. Christella on the other hand is just an old woman stuck in a little girls body. She has so much attitude and sass but also loves to be cuddled and held. And when you put her down... you can expect A LOT of waterworks.

The days continue to pass and the needs continue to grow. This is just every day life in Haiti. We have three new children that have joined our home- Naica (8), Junior (5), and Daniel (3 months). These kids are already such a blessing to us. They were living on the streets and their mother is ill. I was concerned at first with taking them into our home, however, these kids are politest and sweetest kids. Daniel unfortunately is struggling with breathing and is getting medical attention, he has also not had any vaccinations so we are getting him up to date on those. He is a beautiful little boy who, despite being sick, is always smiling. Naica follows me around wherever I go, which of course means that Junior must follow as well. She gives me the biggest hugs and always wants to hold my hand. We built a tire swing in the backyard for all of the kids and Naica and Junior had a blast! Watching them laugh and play with our other kids and seeing them extremely happy makes everything worthwhile. 

These past few weeks have also been filled with unexpected payments whether that be for the car, hospital bills, broken cell phone (which means I lost all of my photos and info), new beds for our new family members, house hold repairs, more diapers and formula for baby Daniel, the list goes on and on. And unfortunately due to these unexpected expenses it has made it difficult to pay our rent which is due this week ($5000). Thankfully I have an amazing support system and family and friends who have stepped up and donated on our gofundme account 

I cannot express enough my gratitude for all of your help.  I've said this before and I will continue saying it, I couldn't do this without all of you!

I spoke with someone recently who was down in Haiti visiting on a Mission's Trip. We began speaking about Haiti and about my life here. Her final statement was "I'm so jealous. I wish I could do what you do and just live here and hold babies all day". It made me cringe. I smiled and left it at that and tried my best to hide the anger and frustration that was boiling inside of me. It's not that I don't love my life here, because I do. But living this life isn't easy. It's hard. It's really really hard. It's not just the constant presence of poverty and suffering, it isn't just the injustices or the deaths or illnesses, it isn't just the lack of clean water, electricity, and basic resources.... All of those are enough to make life extremely difficult. But the most difficult part I find is being so far away from friends and family. Feeling guilt for missed occasions or not being there for your best friend as she goes through a rough patch. For feeling as if you are letting them down and not holding up your end of the relationship. It hurts knowing that you are hurting others by being so far away. I wish she knew what came with "holding babies all day". Quitting University. Feeling as if you are letting your parents down. Quitting your job. Having no savings. Selling all of your belongings. Giving up your home. Saying goodbye to your brothers and other family members. Telling your friends that you will see them when you don't know when. Losing most of your friends because it's hard to keep in contact when you don't have constant electricity, have a bunch of toddlers who are constantly needing your attention, or because they think you are absolutely insane for choosing this life. Move to a country where you know one or two people and don't speak the language. Face government corruption and the daily struggles of simply getting around. Encounter strange illnesses that leave you paralyzed for periods of time. Constantly struggle to come up with funds to care for your children and pay your staff. If you are ready for all of that, then you are ready to "hold babies all day". This isn't to say that my life here isn't also fulfilled with an incredible amount of joy or that I wouldn't choose to be presented with these obstacles all over again, because I would. In a heart beat. I would go through all of that plus more to be lucky enough to have these children in my life and have made such incredible friends in this country.. but I also want people to understand that there are sacrifices, there are hard times, that it isn't just nice beaches, palm trees, warm weather, and "holding babies all day". Haiti never seems to give you time to mourn. It doesn't give you time to process most of the things you witness or are faced with on a daily basis. You deal with what's happening in the moment, and then almost always have to immediately pull yourself together, dust yourself off and keep going. Living here does come with an unexpected cost, but anything worth having is never easy. This is what I have been called to do, and it is what I will continue to do despite the obstacles. I am beyond blessed to be given this life.

It is now 1am and I have to be up in just a few hours, but I wanted to once again thank all of those who have reached out, supported us, fundraised for us, volunteered with us, or those of you who continue to share our story. My gratitude is endless.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Three Years!

This month marks three years since I founded Hime For Help.  For the past three years, I have been a penniless vagabond with holes in my traveling shoes. I didn't start a Not for Profit to save money or to build my career, and I definitely didn't start it to start a Children's Home in Haiti. I blindly jumped into this opportunity with $500 in my pocket and the hopes of exploring the world outside of Chatham-Kent's suburbs. I wanted to meet new people, I wanted to help those people, I wanted to do all that I possibly could to make some kind of difference and to try to impact at least one life.  I also wanted to travel, to try new foods, and get completely lost in unfamiliar situations. So I guess that’s how throughout the past 3 years I came to find myself sitting on picturesque Haitian Mountains, walking along typhoon torn roads in the Phillippines, cuddling my gorgeous children who have now become the biggest part of my life, and living a life full of chaos and uncertainty. This life of mine has turned into something rather extraordinary, and although I am cautiously yet swiftly sifting through my savings and exhausting myself with radical adventures, I love it.  I wouldn't change it for the world.  

The majority of these three years have been spent without a proper Tim Hortons, without a haircut, a warm shower, a hug from my parents. Three years without air conditioning and a microwave, without a flushing toilet, without spirited greetings from my dogs, without snow and fresh salads. But it has also been three years filled with an immense amount of love.  Three years of finding myself.  Three years of learning about our world and meeting people who have suffered such great loss yet still retain such hope and faith.  Three years without a yearning to overachieve, and without the invisible pressure to look fabulous 24/7. For the past three years I have indulged in fresh pineapple, mango, and coconut on a daily basis, and have never once felt insecure about the makeup-less face that I present to the world every morning. This past year has been filled with indescribable challenges that have pushed my being to the brink of insanity, and ultimately led me to a state of complete satisfaction with life. Some people search their entire lives for something to provide them with that feeling, and to have found it already at the age of 22 is perhaps my greatest achievement thus far.

In truth, though, it doesn't feel like an entire three years have passed. I have been so preoccupied with keeping myself hydrated and learning to communicate without unknowingly offending Haitian culture that the daily change of date happens without much notice. People here don’t live by the minute hand like Canadians/Americans, so in experimenting with my ability to fully integrate, I too find myself working by the sun and the rain. Time is just a four-letter word, and I have discovered that conducting a lifestyle based on everything but the clock makes the days progress rapidly.  And in between those long timeless afternoons playing soccer with my boys, cuddling my baby girls, and playing dominoes in the streets with old men, I have gained a greater education than I ever received as a stressed out student. Instead of simply reading about worldly topics and current events, I have lived it. I have experienced the high fever of Malaria and painstakingly washed my laundry by hand with well water. I have (kind of successfully) soothed the screams of a laboring woman as she gave birth to her premature son without medication. I have smelled the heavenly scent of fresh organic food cooking in the streets and seen the backbreaking process that keeps the families that provide these foods alive.  

Coming back to Haiti is always hard.  The discipline I had instilled in the children has disappeared and I have to reteach them all over again.  I have to retrain staff- which is not an easy process especially since they tend to be so stubborn.  The house was a disaster.  Many things were broken and lost.  These past three weeks have consisted of a lot of frustration.. and a lot of yelling... but also a lot of cuddling and soaking up every lost minute with my babies.  Putting them to bed still remains my favourite part of the day, rocking them to sleep and hearing "Mama I love you" is such an unfathomable feeling that nothing could ever compare to.  We were able to finish rebuilding our chicken coop today which is bigger and better than I ever could have imagined, thanks to Val! And our boys named our chickens today.. we have Justin Bieber (the rooster), Celien Dion, Daphka, Dezod (which means bad in Haiti), Bella, and Laura.  The kids were so excited and so proud of themselves for finding the courage to go inside the pen with them and pet them.  It has been a long few weeks, but I am over the moon to be back "home". 
I am sitting here writing this blog with bugs chirping in the background and my boyfriend sitting next to me... A boyfriend? Living together in Haiti? This is something I never would have imagined three years ago.  I never thought that I would find someone who would be so accepting of my crazy life and who would love and care for 17 children that were not his own.. I had become content with lonliness.. I could never expect someone to accept this life of mine or want to live with me in Haiti.. but then I met Ryan and everything changed.  He has also now become a huge part of my life and I am so grateful for him.  

Three years ago I never could have imagined being where we are today.  What started out to be a small website hooked up to a paypal account for family and friends to donate towards organizations I had worked with or met during my volunteer months in Haiti, has now morphed into something so much bigger.  It has morphed into my entire life.  We still struggle, living off donation to donation, but three years ago.. I never thought we could start a Children's home.. that we could rent a big enough house to do so... that we could provide for these kids... that we could sustain ourselves.  Yet here we are today, its still so hard for me to notice our achievements sometimes because it always feels as if there is so much more I want to be doing for our kids or so many more people I want to be helping.  But in this moment, I look back with tear filled eyes and feel a sense of pride.. not even for myself.. but for my kids who never lost hope in me, who still loved me just as much when I became frustrated or unmotivated, for my staff for putting up with my moments of anger and who continue to love these kids as if they were their own, for all of my supporters.. because I honestly could not be here without you.  You have made the impossible quite possible and I am forever grateful for you.  Thank you to all of you who have motivated me when I needed it most, who loved me when I was unlovable, who continued to believe in me during those moments that I gave up hope.  We are so grateful for you. 

Life is still crazy as ever and I know we are going to have many more bumps in the road, but I also know that we will make it through.  We always do! 

Glimpse into the past three years: