Haiti, Day 3: Would You Give Up Your Children to an Orphanage if You Couldn’t Feed Them?

After a very sound night’s sleep – even beneath the mosquito netting and balmy, warm air – we started the day early on the roof with our routine yoga session.  I can’t even begin to put into words how much this practice brings you the peace, balance and centering you need to carry on through the most intense and stressful of situations.  And, how much it builds the mental strength you need, to endure the greatest challenges.  I woke up every morning, eager for yoga and to start the day.

We headed out quickly after class to pick up a few household items. Doug wanted us to experience the marketplace … And, WOW.  What an adventure.

Visiting the market
Visiting the market

The poverty everywhere is heart-wrenching. There’s such a strong air of desperation every corner you turn.  Trash and filth line the streets.  The market was no exception.  Through muddy paths, we – a big group of “blahs” – were quite a spectacle, making our way through.  Many were calling out to us in Kreyol – which I could only assume were, um, sales pitches.  The stalls were rickety structures made from (rotting) wood.  Fish, meat, produce were all laid out in the hot sun, flies swarming the pungent meat.  Another reason I was thankful to be vegetarian … though, I confess – pretty sure I ate dishes with chicken/meat during the week.  I mean, in the face of poverty and hunger, I felt rather flippant with my ‘no meat’ requests after a while – though, there were maybe 4 of us veggies.

Fish!
Fish!
Meat at the market (Photo by Adimu Colon)
Meat at the market (Photo by Adimu Colon)
You can't tell in this pic, but these pigs were HUGE.  I mean, bigger than me - HUGE.
You can't tell in this pic, but these pigs were HUGE. I mean, bigger than me - HUGE.
Adimu making his way through the market
Adimu making his way through the market
People doing laundry in the river
People doing laundry in the river
Doug making his purchases
Doug making his purchases
Due to a police checkpoint and expired plates, we had to drive through the river to get home.  Um. Yes, we did that.
Due to a police checkpoint and expired plates, we had to drive through the river to get home. Um. Yes, we did that.

All the marketplace photos in my Picasa album >>

The morning trip was a lot to take in – and, to be honest, I was really looking forward to settling in at the community center for the day and focusing on projects IN the compound.  We had a full day of activities – building furniture, installing screens in all the windows, setting up computers, painting floors and such.  I worked with Greg and Stefanie to build a kitchen table.  I really enjoy building and painting things – it’s a very soothing task and it’s very gratifying to have a final creation by the end of your toils.  Like, physical proof of your accomplishment.  We had a little downtime by late afternoon and some indulged in another roof yoga session.  I jumped in the pool (a nicer option to showering) and cooled off.

Wearing Discovery gear - "We Discovered Our Impact!"
Wearing Discovery gear - "We Discovered Our Impact!"
Building a kitchen table
Building a kitchen table
Afternoon yoga
Afternoon yoga

By dusk, we headed to the orphanage to visit with the children.  Again, they were all so excited to see us – they are all such sweethearts and it was the highlight of the trip to spend time with them.  They are all so loving and warm – and, if some love, hugs and affection from a total stranger make them feel happier and lighter, I am more than happy to oblige. I could have spent the entire week hugging them all day.  SUCH BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN!  They loved cameras so much – I loved giving them my camera so they could run around, snap pics of each other and find the nice surprise pics later.  Here are a few –

Chris serves as a pillow and gets his hair did!
Chris serves as a pillow and gets his hair did!
LOVE!
LOVE!
This is the church at the orphanage - a pretty basic tent structure
This is the church at the orphanage - a pretty basic tent structure
The church altar - Christianity is a HUGE part of Haitian culture.
The church altar - Christianity is a HUGE part of Haitian culture.
SUCH hams for the camera
SUCH hams for the camera

Goofballs
Goofballs

More photos from the orphanage >>

Many of these children have been given up by their parents because they aren’t able to provide for them. While at most orphanages, the children are clothed, fed and can go to school.  I can’t imagine having to make that decision – giving your child what could be a better life by giving them up.  Hugging each of these kids – it was so hard to imagine how a parent could give them up.  Everything about life in Haiti is so tragic.  Too tragic to be real.  And, how easy it is for us Americans to hop on a plane and be magically transported back to our luxurious lives …

The day before I left the States, I read a breaking story about an American man who founded an orphanage in Haiti.  He’d been arrested for allegedly molesting the children under his care.  As it turns out, some of our new Haitian friends grew up at his orphanage.   The timing of the story was so eerie to me as I read it – I had no idea I’d be so close to it.

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