Friday, June 25, 2010
Today we had a visitor. She was pretty much the sweetest woman I've ever met. Her name is Annalisa and she's from Iceland. Really, Iceland? Really. I didn't even know people LIVED in Iceland. It just sort of sounds like a made up place. But I digress...
She was just hanging with me and kind of seeing what I do on a day to day basis. When she came over our house, she really liked our kids. She looked at Josiah and said, "Oh, you are just beautiful. You have really big eyes."
Nia, the ever-kind, gentle ( and observant) child, chimed in with her two cents... "Yeah, and he's got really big ears and a really big head too."
Nice, huh? (And if I were her, I would have thrown in "big eyebrows" too.)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I didn't come here to be a humanitarian. I came here as a missionary.
Now, just by default a lot of missionary work is humanitarian.
But the truth is, if that's the focus of what we're doing, we will always fail. Always. How gracious of God to place me here in a place where I can never "succeed." ;)
Someday I will get this through my head-- it's not my job to "save" Haiti. (Which is good, because if it was, I'd be doing a really sucky job.)
My job is not providing hope. My job is to be the body of Christ, and in doing so, point people to the true source of hope.
Thanks for the reminder Nick.
People, words cannot describe how freakin' terrible conditions are in Pinchinat right now. I know you're tired of hearing it. I am sadder and sadder every time I go. I called Nick on the way home today in tears. I have lived in Haiti for over a year now and I've seen a lot of need. I've lived here through the earthquake and all the terror that brought. And everyone just keeps saying that the real problem is going to be that rainy season is coming and to expect outbreaks of disease.
What everyone feared would happen is happening.
And no one has anywhere to go.
Every single time I go (every day) moms tell me about how their kids have diarrhea and have stopped eating. Out of the 80 babies we've distributed diapers to in the past 7 days, 60 (SIXTY) of them had diarrhea. Yesterday I pulled up just as an 11 month old baby was crawling in the mud (diaperless) spewing diarrhea all over the ground. And I thought about my most recent rant about MY kids having an outbreak of dysentery. Yeah, I have diapers. And wipes. And a mop. And bleach. And clean water. And a roof over my head. And a mosquito net and a fan. I am going to shut my complaining mouth now.
Seriously, this is SO much bigger than anything we can do. Today dozens of tents all over Jacmel were washed away after the crazy flooding last night. When I picked up Guernia for work this morning I asked her how things were last night in all the rain. She told me that she had water running through the bottom of the tent. All her bedding and sheets got wet. She (like everyone else there) hung them out to dry this morning, but by 9 AM it was raining again, and nothing had the chance to dry today.
Pray for the people of Haiti tonight, specifically the 1.5 MILLION people living in tents and going to sleep in wet beds.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I know this is totally over-sharing, but seriously, this. is. ridiculous.
And in the spirit of Christian love, I'd like to offer you the following advice--
Even if all of your children under the age of 7 are potty-trained, go ahead and put them all in diapers whenever a dysentery outbreak commences at your home. Otherwise you might wake to find that your recently-potty-trained 3-year-old or your friend's recently-potty-trained 4-year-old don't actually have the capacity to "hold it" in time to make it to the potty in the middle of the night, and don't feel it's necessary to let you know this. You may, like me, wake to discover the floors in EVERY room of your house have been splattered with the byproduct of this said dysentery, as apparently these two conspiring trouble-makers felt the need to breakdance all over the place in their liquid-filled drawers.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It started last week, well, actually last month when we started seeing NESTS of baby mice. We realized at that point we had a mouse problem. At night, Nico's been waking up screaming that he sees "rabbits" in his room. (They aren't rabbits, they are mice.) I've seen one or two (or 8) quickly scampering by here and there. This past week, we finally decided to attend to it. We headed to market to find some mousetraps. I wanted the snapping kind but all we could find was the humane ones (homemade) that lure mice into it only to have them killed by our staff. (Don't ask how.) In the past few days we've caught (and they've killed) 7 mice.
But last night they (my kids and staff) added frogs to their list of offending critters (they were actually always there, but last night they happened to find and kill 2.) And you know how you'd step on a spider or a roach? That's how they kill frogs. It's SO nasty.
This morning as I was heading out after breakfast I noticed that someone had also killed a LARGE tarantula in the same fashion. (It was sitting there all dead and huge...) ***shivers***
And I just got to thinking about how glamorous my life is. Mouse infestation. Stepped-on frogs. Dead tarantulas.
You know you wish you were me.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
tent of the family she "stays with."
In the past day I've had two people ask me why we're using disposable diapers when they are not cost effective. I agree. They are not cost effective.
However, we're talking about a community of 800 families living on a soccer field. There is simply NO way to wash diapers in a sanitary manner. Not only that, but water is a problem. It came to our attention that the water truck delivering there broke down and we realized that there had been NO WATER in Pinchinat for FOUR DAYS. (Thanks to your support, Joy in Hope was able to provide 2 large water trucks to fill the distribution tanks.) Even on good days, there's a very limited amount of water available to people.
Today we distributed diapers to 20 more babies. 15 of them had diarrhea. There is no way to keep disease from spreading without containing the poop somehow. In my opinion, this is AS important as providing latrines. Using cloth diapers in Pinchinat right now would be like using cloth toilet paper and reusable sanitary napkins. (We also provided sanitary napkins to 50 women today.)
As I've said from the beginning, I KNOW that alone we can't tackle this problem. But a little LESS poop in the mix of mud and muck can't be a bad thing, right?
NOTE: there was a typo initially. I said we provided A sanitary napkin to 50 women, I meant a SUPPLY of sanitary napkins. Enough for one cycle.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I have had a great, but depressing day.
Today Guernia and I concentrated our efforts together to get her "going" on her job in Pinchinat. She went with me as we brought two kids to the hospital for TB testing (only to find out the only place that tests for TB in Jacmel is out of TB tests... typical. No worries, we'll head back Wednesday when they should have more.) Guernia met with the Gayel's momma to get info/birth certificate for her so we can (hopefully) get her some treatment for what we suspect is cancer.
And then this afternoon, we started our MORE organized diaper distribution. In order to do things more efficiently and make sure everyone is getting the service they need, Guernia is doing a bit of a "survey" of babies in the camp. We're distributing diapers only to the people who are on the list. This way we can keep track of who we've given diapers to, and who has not gotten any.
This was the depressing part. There are A LOT more babies than I realized. A LOT. She called me to say we needed to be prepared for at least 50 babies today. I told her there was no way. 20 would be a stretch. So she prepared a list of 20 babies. (Well, 22, because that's the way it works.) Wildarne and Yves helped me bundle up the diapers.
So today diapers. And the number of babies we didn't get to-- yikes. It was overwhelming.
Here was the other depressing thing. One of the things she asked was if the infant (this is only kids 2 and under) was healthy.
Out of 22 kids:
- Only 5 of the moms said they were healthy. (Actually only 3 said they were healthy-- 2 didn't answer.)
- 11 of them (or half for all you math people) have diarrhea.
- 9 of them have a cough/cold.
- 2 of them aren't eating
- 2 of them have rashes
- 1 has a fever
Now I am not really good with people going into impoverished areas and showering it with goods. I really AM of the "teach a man to fish" camp. But this is a public health situation. In my mind it's the same thing as providing clean water or digging latrines. (Especially when 50% of the babies today had diarrhea.)
I am loving this project, and I am praying for resources to continue it!
After inviting three of our kids to walk the land with Nick and the team the other day, Nick sat down with Yves and showed him the plans for the house we hope to build one day on our land...
They were pretty excited. Sometimes I get so caught up in the busy-ness of life here that I forget the dream. Sharing it with our kids made me remember... it was a pretty good feeling.
Her story is heart-breaking and compelling.
Guernia is 25 years old. On January 11th she traveled from her home in Port Au Prince to Jacmel to visit her family—her parents were here as well as her 5 sisters and 1 brother. Her husband, a lawyer, stayed behind in Port Au Prince because he needed to work.
As you know, the earthquake happened on January 12. She was separated from her husband by a short, but impassable distance. With the road through the mountains completely blocked to cars/trucks and the phones down, she had no way of knowing the status of her husband. Two days after the quake, she found someone willing to drive her to Port Au Prince on the back of a moto—it cost her $300 Haitian Dollars. (About $37.50 US, or about 10 times the price of getting a ride on a tap tap pre-quake.)
She arrived in a very broken Port Au Prince. Her house was collapsed. Her husband’s office was collapsed. And her husband was dead.
Guernia returned to Jacmel to live with her family. Her mother’s house was damaged as well, and so everyone was sleeping outside. As a family they moved into the refugee camp that was forming at the soccer field in Jacmel, Pinchinat. They lived together for several months, but when the rains started, the rest of her family left Pinchinat to camp out in the yard of their broken homes and Guernia stayed.
Guernia’s job with Pwojè Konekte will be to survey the needs of those in her camp community. Get an inventory of babies, the elderly, those with malnutrition, those seeking employment, etc. She will also be surveying local organizations to determine services available. Then, one by one, we will begin to match families in need to these services. In fact, it’s already happening.
We’ll keep you posted.
This was last week--
Today is an exciting day.
Today we (Joy in Hope) are launching a new project, "Pwojè Konekte." (The Connection Project.) In order to explain what this project is about, I feel it makes the most sense to start at the very beginning.
I read this quote the other day that I thought hit the nail on the head, "Haiti was home to one of the worst disasters of our time. Then the earthquake hit." --Compassion Magazine
It's true. Haiti, while it is the place I most love to be, could be called one the worst disasters of our time with no exaggeration. There was rampant poverty, corruption, disease, lack of education, lack of clean water... ALL of this. It was here. It has been here for over 200 years. And it doesn't really make sense because we're a 2 hour plane ride away from the MOST advanced society in the history of the world. And while nothing ran smoothly here in Haiti, things ran. People made do-- the word in Creole is "degaje."
But then the game changed. On January 12, 2010, Haiti shook. Hard. Magnitude 7.0 hard. And hundreds of thousands of buildings collapsed. And hundreds of thousands of people died. And millions of people became homeless. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, described it as an "acute-on-chronic" situation.
The initial wave of support was (fairly) swift and strong. Dozens of countries sent in military. Huge aid organizations became mobilized and delivered uncountable tons of food and water and supplies. Worldwide medical organizations came in with top-notch medication and equipment. The attention of the international community was finally on Haiti. And people wanted to help. And they did. And people wanted to give. And they did.
But as the story began fading from the news, the support started coming in a bit slower. And then it slowed to a trickle. And then lots of people pulled out. Now, I don't wish to paint these relief workers in a non-flattering light. Many of them came here with a specific job to do. They did the job. And now they have left. The problem is that the initial push made by the international community wasn't enough to meet the depth of need that we're left with here in Haiti.
There are ongoing projects focused on rebuilding. There are ongoing projects focused on health. There are ongoing projects focused on education.
But it doesn't change the fact that there are still over a million people displaced. A million people living under tents and tarps and sheets in the middle of fields, in the middle of highways, pretty much everywhere.
Let's be honest. There's nothing any ONE person can do about that. There's no way any one individual or government or organization can tackle this problem alone. But the good news is that we don't need to. There are thousands of individuals and organizations IN Haiti that have been here since the beginning. Thousands who still want to help. And the way I see it, if we all settle on one little corner of a neighborhood, we can start to impact change.
Here's the problem I am seeing in Jacmel, our city. I see thousands of people who remain in the muddy, muddy refugee camp called Pinchinat. It's indescribable. I've spent a lot of time there since the quake visiting with mothers and children. I've seen an evolution of the camp from when meals and services were offered daily, to meals and services being offered every 15 days. I've seen all the people who have standing homes leave. I've seen the number of latrines cut in 1/3. I've seen the tents get hotter as the summer burns on. I've seen the mud and water rushing through these bottomless tents with rainy season upon us. People there are desperate. They need help.
However, there's a silver lining to all of this. And that silver lining is that there ARE still people in Jacmel who have the capacity to help. There are dozens of organizations that existed pre-quake that were addressing the needs of Haitians pre-quake. There are even more now. Not everyone has left. But virtually no one organization even in Jacmel has the ability to handle the numbers we're talking about still living in Pinchinat-- probably 4,000ish?
So this is where we started thinking. We started thinking about what our role has been in relief and what we have to offer. We started thinking about what our organization exists to do (build families.) And we started discovering that there may be a way that while we can't be the solution on a macro-level, we can make significant ripples throughout this camp starting on a micro-level.
So here's the plan.
Today we're launching Pwojè Konekte. (The Connection Project.) We have hired a Pinchinat resident to do much of our legwork and we're going to begin to make some lists. Lists of babies who need diapers. Lists of people who need medical care. Lists of people who need jobs. Lists of orphaned/abandoned children. (The camp is actually very organized by rows/tent #'s and people are well-established there.) Our goal is not to personally meet all these needs. Read on.
At the same time we're going to be going out into the community and determine the services local NGO's and relief organizations are offering. We have a list of a few dozen already. Malnutrition projects, medical clinics, maternity care, orphanages, work programs, rape support programs, etc, etc, etc. We'll get specifics about how to access these services and the costs involved.
And then we'll look at our two sets of lists and we will match people up with services. Our goal is to CONNECT families with services already being offered. We will start small, but we will have the capacity to offer assistance with medical costs and transportation needs. We will have a supply of diapers and over the counter meds. Some of the solutions will be really easy.
But others are going to be messy. It's not going to be easy to prioritize. We truly need to bite off small chunks at a time. But we're committing to an initial six-month period to see what kind of strides we can make.
Here's where you come in. We set a budget and have some donated dollars for initial start-up funds, but other than that, Joy in Hope has agreed to bite this off. So how can you support this work? You can support Joy in Hope. Rather than this being a "special" project of Joy in Hope, this is just sort of who we are. This is no longer earthquake relief or immediate needs. This is WHO we are as an organization. We exist to build families in Jacmel, Haiti. Right now, we can think of no better way than to build into several thousand people in our own community who are really down and out.
Ready to jump in and help?
Donate securely online at http://www.joyinhope.org/d
(Click on "General Fund" as reason for donation)
OR... send it the "good old fashioned" way through the mail to:
Joy in Hope
2731 NC Hwy 55 #251
Cary, NC 27519
Thanks for helping us help our community. There's no us without YOU!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Nia is SUCH a missionary kid. I mean that in a good way, but sometimes others don't see it the same way.
This was our conversation on the way home from the soccer tournament where she'd worked hard all day. It was about 7PM.
Me: As soon as we get home, you and I are getting in the shower and then going to bed.
Nia: But it's Friday night. We have church.
Me: Yes, that's true, but you and I aren't going. Daddy has gone on ahead of us to get things set up and Eddie (our security guard) is driving the other kids.
Nia: So the other kids GET TO go to church, and I don't.
Me: Yes. But you're all sweaty and salty and filthy. There's not time to get showered and dressed...
Nia: That's fine. Next Friday we will just make them all stay home and we'll just go.
Me: No, that's not going to happen.
Nia: That's not fair. They will get more church time than me.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I happen to miss church for TWO weeks in a row-- I was sick one week and the next week I was away with Nick on vacation. I have LITERALLY had FIVE people ask me this week where I was and when I expected I would be back.
One of them was our pastor, concerned that I perhaps had some problem with the church. (Which is hilarious because the first week I missed was when my HUSBAND was preaching.)
I honestly didn't realize I was that visible that people would notice. Okay, that's a lie. I did realize that. What I didn't realize is that I'd get the 3rd degree.
Hey at least, it's good to know I'm missed.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
You can view the JiH facebook page even if you don't have facebook.
Monday, June 7, 2010
I will explain more tomorrow... what we're doing, how we're doing it, how you can help... etc, etc, etc.
But for now-- just look at these people who are the heart behind what we're starting--
This sassy (malnourished) girl.
It's our goal to get them (and thousands of others) connected with services they need to build their families-- nutrition programs, cancer treatment, orphanages, breastfeeding assistance, prenatal care, medicine, hospital stays, new jobs... etc, etc, etc...
I get goosebumps every time I start thinking about the actual impact we can have!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
But it's this weird thing-- I find myself wanting to blog. We've spent hours in the pool and in the ocean. We've eaten great food and drank $7 cocktails (Well, I have. Nick's a teetotaler... but he did drink two $3 fresh mango smoothies.) We've napped and had hot showers. I'm halfway through "Brava Valentina" (Adriana Trigiani's newest novel I downloaded onto my ebook reader.) It's been fantastic and luxurious. I've been eating real butter and have loved stretching out in a king-sized bed. I marveled yesterday at the fact that I was in an artificially cooled room using artificially heated air to blow dry my hair made wet by my artificially heated shower water. It felt so strange and it seemed to go against everything I now live. (And it was wonderful by the way.)
But in these few hours we have between showers and dinner, I find myself wanting to blog and debrief the events of the day. And it just hit me-- I blog not because I care if you read it. I blog because I am extremely (EXTREMELY) extroverted and living in Haiti has capped much of my ability to speak. I just don't have very many friends here. And the friends I have, I can't communicate with fully. As Nick said, "Blogging for you is a way to pretend you have people to talk to." :)
People talk about how vacation should be a time of relaxing and unplugging. I agree with that to a certain degree, and we've done that. But in all reality, blogging is relaxing to me. It's a way I debrief recent events. I discover how much I really LOVE being away with my husband while I am writing it down. And for the record, Nick is actually an introvert and needs some time alone-- this way we both get what we want. :)
I love that people care about our family and I love that I have been placed in a position to lend a small voice to some of the social justice issues in Haiti. I love that because I love Haiti. But that's not why I blog. I blog because I love to write stories. When we were on our 3 week sabbatical a few months ago I did a lot of writing. More than I've ever done. Some of it wasn't healthy. Some of it I deleted. Other entries I finished and saved-- not sure if it was the right time to publish. Other entries sit there saved and half-written. The beginnings of ideas I am exploring.
So I guess all of this is to say... Judge away if you think I shouldn't be spending time on the internet while I am on my weekend of romance with the hubs. I say it helps me enjoy my husband more... You say potato... (Plus, he's taught me what Twitter is... )
The only drawback so far is THIS DUDE who got settled into the cabana next to us.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
But that's not the point of my post today. Since we're leaving in the morning, I didn't want to forget a huge day in our lives-- June 4th. The day Josiah was "healed by God" via the hands of surgeon, Dr. Andrew Lodge.
This is Josiah June 4, 2007 after he had surgery to repair Transposition of the Great Arteries.
This is Josiah on his birthday a couple of days ago...
Papa Abraham gen anpil timoun
Anpil timoun genyen Papa Abraham
e mwen se yon ladan
e ou se tou
donk tout moun adore bondye...
I don't know where she comes up with this stuff.
I LOVE living in a new culture. It's like meeting my kids all over again.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I rested it all day yesterday and had some PT's come look at it last night. They did a bunch of maneuvers with it, but basically just think it's sprained. It hurts like crazy. I can't put any weight on it. I am going to have to just lay low for a few days (which is easier said than done when you have 9 kids and a ministry in HAITI.) I have a pair of crutches, but the truth is, with my tendency towards accidents these days, I am not sure that's the best strategy. I think planting myself on the couch and trying to catch up on computer work is a better bet.
So yes. I am an idiot. I am FULLY aware of that. But please feel free to let me know as well as everyone else is doing.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Birth Story of Josiah Stephen
The regular nursery came in to give Josiah a bath and realized his breathing wasn’t normal and whisked him off to the special care nursery. We didn’t get an update for a long time, but when we did, the news was not good. Josiah couldn’t breathe on his own for what was (at that point) an unknown reason. They suspected it had to do with getting stuck and aspirating fluid, but they did mention that “worst case” it was a problem with his heart. An hour later they called Nick back to the special care nursery and told him definitively it was a heart problem and that Josiah would have to be transferred to