Sunday, September 21, 2008

Waking Up to Bright Sunshine at OI Haiti

The sun rises early in Haiti and by 5:30 a.m. the sounds of happy children had awakened me. A dozen children. With two doors to my room, and a window, I count twelve children peering in to catch a glimpse of the white guy who has been in their young lives for a significant part – for most over half their lives. Do I snore? Do I dream in English? These questions and more flood their tiny heads as they watch me waking up with great excitement.

Conditions here are rough following the hurricanes, with no water, no electricity – even no school as it was flooded out. I went to bed by candlelight – dark here by 6 p.m. – and I am about to take a bucket bath with water carried from the public well about 200 yards away. With two toilets, twelve children and four staff, water is consumed just for flushing.

Breakfast is delicious: fresh avocado, white rice, bananas, raw onions, toast with butter and jam, and hot coffee. The children spend the morning with no school, helping to clean the house, prepare lunch, and play with their many toys.

As I try to write a report, I am amazed at the number of small hands touching my ‘strange’ body – combing my funny hair, rubbing my arms. In the sweltering heat my patience finally wanes and I use the one word I am training our kids to know while I struggle to remember words in Creole or French. But they get me every time when pressed I yell, “Stop!”

Of course they howl in laughter, as they do for almost anything I try to say or do. I admit I exaggerate my abilities to dance ad sing, but I sadly do no exaggerate my insufficiencies with their native languages. Part of me yearns to stay for six months, being tutored daily in French and Creole.

But there is too much development work to be done in New York – raising money to pay for it all – I must return shortly to take charge. So at the moment I have no time to really learn their language and my English “Stop!” must suffice. It works – they stop eating my peanuts, using my deodorant, and not shaving their heads with my electric razor!

Parenthood is amazing when you put your foot down and draw the line. My “Stop!” achieves this. But I secretly glow with happiness to have these twelve Haitian orphaned children trust me enough after four years to play “bad” with me.

I am waking up at OI Haiti where we have helped to change the entire universe for our kids and it is a sensation that trumps almost any other feeling I have ever had. The noisy roosters outside mirror the shouting in my heart of pure joy. Rough conditions or not, we have twelve incredibly wonderful children.

- Jim Luce, Sept. 10, Cyvadier Village, Jacmel, South East Province, Haiti

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jim. My family is actually from Grand Goave- not too far from Jacmel. Your organization sounds really interesting! Would love to learn more.

Best Regards,