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THIS IS OUR TIME

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Thank you!

We like to be good at things, to know what we’re doing, and to know people well. During our time in Haiti, we felt that there was so much to learn and so much we didn’t know. We normally like to feel comfortable with a situation before we leap, but we understand that this is often not an option, and we know that we need to strengthen this weakness. 

We already feel a desire to push further outside our comfort zones, knowing we can handle our failures…and our friends will likely still love us.

We’ve learned to love without limits, even when we’re peed on or have snotty noses snuggled into our necks. Our time in Haiti has taught us the value of Bob Goff’s words…we used to be afraid of failing at things that matter, but now we’re afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter. 

We can be the generation that no longer accepts that an accident of latitude determines whether a child lives or dies (Bono). But will we be that generation? We don’t know that we will be, but we know that we can try to be. 

Our time spent at the clinic has affirmed our shared goal of becoming physicians and of one day returning to places like Haiti to do what, right now, we can’t.

But for now, we are thankful to have had this blog space to remember important moments and to orient our thoughts. We are already planning our next trip back! 

Here’s where we ask for your help. Child Hope works tirelessly to aid this community, but the medical fund is running low and our sweet friends need more medical treatment and testing. Please consider following the link below! 

Child Hope Medical Fund

Thank you for reading! 

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Dave.

His smile, his little kisses and snuggles, and his knack for showing up when we needed him most… Dave quickly took on the name “our little angel”.

At 18 months old, Dave was left alone on the streets. His mother sometimes left him with a 10 year old “babysitter” to watch him for days at a time. Suzette found Dave in an empty house without electricity left for squatters. 

There was an open flame with a pot of water boiling within Dave’s reach. There was a tub of water deep enough for Dave drown in, and the 10 year old and the mother were no where to be found.

Suzette sat with him until the 10 year old returned hours later. Child Hope later “adopted” Dave and his mother, giving Dave’s mother a job as a cook at the guest house and Dave an opportunity to go to Child Hope’s preschool— at least someone is watching over him for three hours, three times a week. 

We first met Dave walking home from the clinic— the first time we navigated the unmarked roads on our own. 

As we passed a whistling group of men, we began to panic and hastened our step. Just when we started to worry we might have taken a wrong turn, Dave came running down the road with his arms in the air and his mouth wide open. He thrust his body onto our legs and he wrapped his arms around us. 

We took a breath, picked him up, and walked the rest of the way home, feeling protected and so thankful for Dave’s little 20 lb presence. 

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Estaline.

Ohhh Estaline. It didn’t take us long to figure out that Ms. Estaline runs the show. Estaline has been in the home since her mother died of an asthma attack when she was a baby. 

When we first saw Estaline we thought she was probably 3… maybe 4. We learned that Estaline is 6 years old, but is living with a severe growth deficiency. 

It is Child Hope’s mission to provide the children in their homes with an opportunity to have a future in THIS country—their home. While we have the utmost respect for Child Hope’s value not to adopt out and don’t doubt that some of these kids could be incredible leaders for Haiti, but its been difficult not to wonder what Estaline’s life could be if she had access to the growth hormones she needs. 

The nannies here don’t understand that feeding her more won’t help her grow, and they are unknowingly contributing to a growing weight problem. Estaline has trouble getting up after being seated and her skirts don’t fit over her belly. 

Estaline greeted us by grabbing either side of our faces and kissing us on the lips! Estaline sings and dances and has sass far beyond her years. As she waddles away with a huge grin on her face, we can’t help but smile with her. 

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Stanley.

Stanley weighed 12 lbs when he was 4 years old. Suzette worried he would suffer permanent deficiencies, both mental and physical. But boy, has this little guy proved her wrong. Stanley has skipped two grades and is always the top of his class. He is a stickler for doing the right thing, and if anyone tries to bend the rules of a game—even if on his team—world war three breaks out. Stanley, like many of the kids who come through Child Hope’s homes, is not actually orphaned. His father lives down the street, and Stanley has an older brother named Watson who still lives at home. 

Their father is mean drunk. He beats the boys and withholds food. He beat their mother too, who ran away and now supports herself through prostitution. Watson hangs out at the clinic after school to avoid going home. Stanley loves his family, and its difficult for us to imagine how he could love an environment that seems so toxic. For now, Stanley is living at the boys home. 

This little man is surviving… even thriving. And in meeting him, so did we. 

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Yvenel.

Yvenel, like many of the other boys in the home, have been molested at other orphanages. But, inside and out this kid is beautiful and willing to share every part of himself with us. So much love. 

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Immanuel.

It has been raining so much. We went into the tent city yesterday. Some people from the team that is here are helping to rebuild a tent-home for someone. It was quite a sight to see… everyone ankle deep in mud attempting to construct a wooden frame for the tarps to fit on. The clay-like, super sticky mud that everyone was sinking in was soon to be someone’s floor. When the rain comes, the tent cities become mud pits. How do you keep your possessions from being destroyed? How do you keep disease at bay? How do you eat when no one is going to work and school is canceled, which is the one place some of these kids get a consistent meal?

We can’t imagine living here, let alone living here alone as an 8 year old. Immanuel watched his mother die in the earthquake. After bouncing around between a grandmother and an uncle, neither of whom wanted him, he lived alone in a tent city. 

For a year he slept on three bricks, the only things he called his own besides the shirt on his back that soon became a rag that wouldn’t stay on his little body.

Child Hope met Immanuel in the emergency room with a bullet in his arm. After being shot, he was sent to them by social services. He didn’t know how to use a toilet and he couldn’t communicate with anyone. Immanuel didn’t know how to speak his country’s native language, or any language for that matter. He was overwhelmed by having a place to sleep and a consistent food source…so much so that he has run away three times. 

But today, Immanuel is in school… struggling still, but everyday learning how to control his speech and actions. He’s able to focus better, even without the ADHD or Aspergers medication he would quickly be prescribed in the states. 

Immanuel was one of the first boys in the orphanage to run up to us and ask us to play. 

Immanuel has a family now…a family that gives him the care he needs and that is working to mend the wounds that are so deeply etched into him.

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Yules Darline. Yes, that is her name.

This girl has a multitude of nicknames, so her real name rarely gets used. Some people have taken to calling her by her second name, Darline, but if we had to choose one it would be Yules. But enough about her name.

She came into Lexi and Paula’s world the day before Thanksgiving, very small and extremely dehydrated. At a month old, she weighed less than 3lbs and looked more like an alien than a baby. Suzette, the woman who runs Child Hope with her family, found Yules in her mother’s arms. She hadn’t had any fluid in at least a week. Yules was the only surviving triplet and mom was now pregnant with twins. Suzette had Yules’ mom sign a piece of paper agreeing that she would not hold Suzette responsible for the baby’s death… Suzette doubted Yules would make it through the night. 

But she did. The goals were to hydrate her and keep her alive, and secondly to help her gain some weight and eat better before returning to mom.

No one is sure how she survived the first month of life, but we can say with certainty that she’s a feisty little fighter for sure. The nurses never had to start an IV, she just drank up her formula little bits at a time, and slowly started plumping up. 

Baby girl moved in with the nurses for a time, and the rest is history.  

Her mom comes to the clinic regularly to get formula and diapers and the nurses now see the baby enough to make sure she is growing and developing well.

We’re learning that it is not common for a mother to want her struggling child back, but this momma is different—special. 

Today we had the privilege of meeting Yules in the clinic. After being kissed on the cheeks, as is the custom here, by her sweet mother, it was time for Yules’ weekly weigh in. At 7 months she had been lingering at 13 lbs for quite some time, and everyone was ready for her to reach the big one four. 

Today was the day!! As Lexi and Paula peered at the numbers on the scale, the clinic broke out in cheering and applause. She weighed 14 lbs 1 oz. Mom ran over with tears running down her cheeks and picked up her screaming baby who was embarrassed by all of the commotion. 

What a moment of beautiful friendship and warmth. Feeling honored to have been a part of it. 

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Reflection.

Its after days like today that we find it hard to sleep. The heat is oppressive and the constant sound of the generator turning off and on due to Haiti’s unreliable city power leads us up to our favorite spot to reflect. We crawl up to our roof. Our hearts and minds are full of everything we have witnessed today. Its a lot to take in.

There is so much going on around us, and yet, now, it feels very peaceful. While we sit here, we write down the things we are hearing, feeling, and seeing.

We see the stars behind the dark, heavy rain clouds as they move in. We see the ocean in the distance, and we know that there is a sea of almost built or somewhat broken concrete houses between us and it. We hear honking horns and people in the neighborhood. We hear the distant drumming of Voodoo “Rah-Rah” bands. 

We feel thick, warm air cut with the cool breezes that are bringing the rain… and bug bites, and concrete. Ouch. The nightly lightening storm opens over the tropical hills dotted with piles of rubble in which we know families will squat tonight. The bolts cracking are like nothing we’ve ever seen. 

Before we came to Haiti, we imagined time moving more slowly here, but we find the opposite to be true. And yet, if this makes any sense, there are times when something we did in the morning seems as if it happened three days prior. All this to say, time is very strange sometimes. 

As the lightening draws closer to the metal power line looming above our heads, we think its our cue to call it a night. Finding comfort, motivation, and encouragement in this blog space tonight. Looking forward to what tomorrow holds.