Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2nd Visit to Home of Sick & Dying Children

Saturday - June 11

After a morning of working the water truck, a few of us decided to go back to this orphanage to assist with evening feeding at 3:30. Some of our co-team members were still sick.

In arriving at the orphanange, I felt I could be the most help going to the lower level again where the sickest children are to assist with feeding. I also wanted to check in on the small child in crib #16 that I had worked with earlier in the week - earlier blog.

I went back to the same room but no crib #16. My heart sank. I looked in the adjoining room and noticed a crib #16 on the far side. Rushing over to check it out, it became obvious this was a larger/healthier baby. Tears came to my eye. In the two days that I had been gone, did little 40 month old crib #16 pass away? I feared the worse and stood their trying to feed another child standing in her crib while tears ran down my eye.

I wanted some confirmation of my fear. Hardly able to talk, I emotionally asked one of the sisters (knowing they'd be fluent in English) what happened to the small baby in crib #16. She informed me, they sent baby #16 home the day before with the mom. They provided 2 weeks food for the mom to take the baby home and come back in 2 weeks for another short term stay and progress checkup from the sisters.

I really hope this sister was telling me the truth and not just what she think I wanted to hear to feel better. My prayers are for the truth....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2nd Water Truck Day

Saturday - June 11

Two team members, Allie and Maddie (my daughter) picked up the bug yesterday and had to stay back at the house to recover.

My co-team members, Lindsay & Spencer, and myself went back out on the water truck in the morning for 2 more water deliveries in Citi-Solei. This day was hotter and drier than our earlier run on Tuesday - following the heavy rains the night before.

The first stop went fairly smooth. However, with it much hotter and drier, the 2nd stop was quite different. People lined up on the narrow streets between the shantis before we could even get the water truck backed up. Our driver had to move the truck 1 block down to a spot where he could backup before the women and children rushed in with their buckets.

The water started flowing as we filled buckets but they wouldn't stay in line and all started pushing forward - surrounding the operators running the hose. We had to turn off the valve on the hose and pull out. The driver went down another street and we started the process over again with all of our 5 person team doing more deligence on keeping everyone in line. Not much time to play with the children on this delivery as past.

An elderly lady, my guess 60-70 yrs old, came up to me with a bucket suggesting to cut to the front of the 100+ deep line to get water. With the 2 prior attempts of delivering water having failed and trying to keep order, I motioned for her too to go back to the end of the line. Followed was the disgusted look on her face she gave me.

5-10 minutes past by and with the line 150+ deep I started feeling guilty about sending her to the back and realized she may not get water before we run out. I realized, I had made the wrong decision. Carrying a little girl in my arm, I walked to the back of the line looking for the elderly lady. I found her and asked for her bucket, grabbed her hand and took her to the front of the line. I felt better and she was beaming. Although language barriers, I knew she understaood the guilt I had felt.

After I filled her bucket, she took her wrag and wrapped in a coil to place on her head - the padding they use to carry the 50# buckets. All she wanted was for me to assist here in lifting over her head. Instead, I suggest I carry it to her shanti which she gratefully accepted.

After about 30 minutes of flowing water we ran out. There was still a line of 75+ deep with their empty buckets we had to leave - hard thing to do. But knowing the strong compassion of the Haiti people, I'm certain some of the women & children with multiple buckets filled found it in their heart to share with their fellow neighbors.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pure Joy!

Today was absolutely pure joy!!!!!! We spent it entirely with children learning new songs along with new moves, visiting 2 schools in tough, tough areas, and spending the afternoon at an orphanage handing out dresses and shirts and just playing. I laughed with these kids all day. 
The pictures will tell it all :)

Earlier today we invited 6 street kids to dinner tonight and I think they must have asked the girls' hand in marriage several times throughout the evening. They rapped and sang to them after dinner and I think the 4 gals enjoyed the attention from the 17 year olds. It was very funny to observe all night.....a lot of smiles back and forth!!!!! Trust me we parents never left the room.

Spence and I are feeling well, but 2 of our team members went down hard last night and have remained in bed all day. Pray for a speedy recovery for them before they have to get on a plane for home Monday.

Yesterday was an extremely emotionally hard day and I think a few of us would have flown home last night if they would have offered. Thank goodness that HE brings us new mornings because today was simply beautiful!!!!!!! It was worth hanging in there for :)

My roommates are sleeping so I should probably say goodnight myself......

Off to the wound clinic tomorrow morning with the Nuns where we will see over 500 people.....yes 500!!!!!! I will need my Vic's rub under my nose tomorrow. Wooo Weeeeee!!!!!!

Lots of Love,
Jody Comfort
Healing Haiti Team Member

My return to Haiti

As I returned to Haiti the sounds, voices, sites and smells returned and more importantly so did the breaking of my heart.
Yesterday we attended a worship service at 6 am. It was held under a huge white tent. What an amazing experience to see the true worship of the Haitian people!! Their love for and dependence on the Lord is beautiful. It put mine to shame. Their beautiful voices filled the tent.
After walking home from the service, we headed to Titanyen and Grace Village. Before going up to the village, we stopped at a mass burial grave site for the victims of the earthquake. Crosses covered the area where thousands of people had been buried. We prayed for all of the families who lost someone.
Arriving at Grace Village, I once again was amazed at this beautiful place! The mountains on one side and the view of the ocean on the other. I cannot wait for the day when Grace Village becomes the new home for all of the children!
We then went to Titanyen to visit some of the elderly, who are in great need of love and affection. Susan who heads up the elder care program for Healing Haiti was with us and is doing all she can to improve their living situation. What was so amazing to us was that we prayed for them and then they prayed so sweetly for us. God is working in Haiti!

God has definitely been doing work in my heart and the hearts of the team this week!
Pictures to come!

Becky Nelson
Healing Haiti Team Lead

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Home for the Sick and Dying Children

We started the morning at Home for the Sick and Dying Children. No photos as the sisters running the orphanage do not want the children exploited.

The original building was destroyed in the Jan. 2010 earthquake. I was told, miracously, when the quake started within 30 seconds the sisters were able to get all of the children out of the nursery just seconds before the roof caved in. Standing in its place are large tents where the children were housed the past year following the quake.

Now there are 5 areas of the orphanage. The cooking and food storage area, church, school and courtyard and two level nursery. As the nursery is built on a sloped area, you enter on the 2nd floor which is where the healthier children are kept. Three rooms with children ranging from 2-5 - my best guess. These were the lucky ones that had graduated up from first floor. Healthy enough to stand up in their cribs and walk around when you took them out. But not necessarily healthy enough to go back to their moms - if they had one.

As we walked in, the kids would stand up in their cribs and reach out hoping for you to grab them. Three rooms with about 12-15 kids/room. The sisters do a great job here but are simply outnumbered to give them the immediate attention we would give our own back home.

Some of the kids were already out as they were being visited by their moms. Moms that loved them to come visit them daily but recognized they do not have the means or environment to support their needs.

Here is where I grabbed two little boys - one I don't remember the name and Alexendre. Only knew Alex's name by the ankle bracelet with 2-1/2 hand-written on the label with the drop off date - Feb. 2011. We, many of my team members and myself, took children in our arms outside to the church/chapel where the school children (grades 1-4) were having a Spring carnival. It was so hot - we were all sweating with soaked clothes holding these little hot water bottles but many including Alex refused to be put down. My other little guy was a little more adventurous and after 15 minutes was ready to go walking around on his own. However, thinking Alex was to hot hanging onto me, he would always start crying when I suggested setting him down.

So I held onto him and decided to walk around and check out the rest of the nursery with him in my arm. We went downstairs to 1st floor. This is where the sicker babies are kept. Two rooms with about 10-20 kids in each room. Probably 6-8 of them with IV drips attached. Maybe about half of them strong enough to stand up in their crib.

While holding Alex, I noticed the smallest baby in the nursery back in the corner on her back rocking back-and-forth - crib #16. Appeared to be turrets. Feeling so bad for her, I placed Alex down in the empty crib next to her - first time he didn't cry over that move. Picked her up - holding the back of her head from limping backwards and lifted her to my chest. She stopped her continous movements and reached up and rubbed the 4-5 day beard growth of hair on my face. Amazing she still had the strength to lift her hand to my face. She felt so fragile - probably not weighing more than 3-4 lbs - having had 4-5 lb twin girls myself - she felt lighter than they were.

I was suddenly overcome with the smell of a dirty diaper so started to place her back in her crib to do the diaper check. Thats when I realized her diaper had actually fallen off in the crib and the smell was coming from the mess all over my arm. The sister in the room felt worse about than I did - rushing over to apologize in Creole while wiping my arm off. I offered to help wipe up baby #16 and clean the crib but the nurse insisted upon doing it - I must not have looked experienced at this.

It was lunch time so I picked up Alex., a bowl of hot cereal, and took him out to the courtyard to eat. Amazing how quickly he devoured the entire bowl. Having a full stomach and new level of energy, this was the first time he let me put him down and he proceeded to walk on his own.

It was time to leave the nursery at noon as this is when the sisters don't want visitors so they can get the kids down for their nap. Something else we all respect as parents.

We came back later that day at 3:30 to assist with dinner. Visiting at this time was alot noisier with all baby's that could, standing up in their crib crying for dinner. I made it a point to grab the first bowl I could find and seek out baby #16. She wasn't on an IV but I didn't have much confidence she would have the ability to chew and swallow. But as I lifted the spoon to her limp head and tiny lips, the human will-to-live took over and she proceeded to eat and swallow. My co-mission team member Spencer and I were back alone in this 12-15 crib nursery with only 2 bowls. Seeking Spencer's confirmation that feeding more than one baby with the same spoon seemed like an ok thing to do, we went for efficiency. I held #16 in my left arm - placed the bowl down on an empty crib and fed #16 and 2 other crib standing babies next to her at the same time.

It was near the end of this feeding time that I decided to check the ankle bracelet on #16. I've been calling her #16 as I couldn't make out the hand writing of her name on the bracelet. However, I could make out here age - 40 months. This 3+ yr. old that only weighed 3-4 pounds and had survived this long?? I don't remember her exact drop off day but do remember it was 2011. I cann't imagine her environment before arriving in the care of the orphanage.

We did receive alot of downpour rain Monday night when we arrived. While sitting in our dry comfortable guest house and hearing the rain hit our metal roof, I thought of all the discomfort this rain was placing the tents and shanty dwellers in that we had passed between the airport and house. I was told the Sisters of the Home for Sick and Dying Children had families crawling over their gated fence that night to escape the flowing waters going through the lower elevation neighorhoods to take shelter in their sole roof only covered church/chapel.

Mark Smith
Healing Haiti Team Member

Water Truck-Cite Soleil

We had quite the shocking day on the water truck. We delivered 3 trips of 2500-3000 gallon loads of water deep into the slums of this city. More info on Cite Soleil

The smells of the sewage, charcoal burning for cooking, garbage with pigs carozing through the trash will forever be in our minds. The kids come up and just want your attention - hold their hand, play hand slapstick, mimick your words or just hug your leg. The smile on their face when you pick them up to hold is so rewarding.

We would assist the 5-50 yr old women with their 5 gallon water buckets and some time larger than 50# water containers back to their tin shanty or tarp tent they live in. Many of them simply carry the loads on their heads. It's amazing the big smiles these kids beam with when you give them your attention. Especially amazing given the siutation they're in.

You wish you could more when they ask for food too but there is only so much we can do.

-Mark Smith
Healing Haiti Team Member

Monday, June 6, 2011

We are Here!

We have finally made it to Haiti!!
The heat definitely hit us as we stepped off the plane. We then went and got our luggage, all 10 bags! The airport was a busy place, with lots of people and other groups coming down. Jeff, one of our leaders met us and helped bring our luggage to the tap tap (this is the vehicle that we ride in). We then drove to where we are staying, a very bumpy ride! After arriving, we unloaded our luggage and then went for a walk around the block. On the walk, a Haitian boy came up to us and laid down rocks so we would not get our feet muddy, so amazing!! Right now, FanFan is playing guitar and we are singing worship songs and having a great time! We all feel so blessed to be here and are excited to see what tomorrow holds! We are going to be delivering water to Cite Soleil, one of the poorest slums in the Western Hemisphere.

Ke Bondye Beni'ou ( May God Bless You),

Lindsay Nelson
Healing Haiti Team Member