West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Rollercoaster Day

Today we had so many emotional ups and downs.  Sonya asked Pere Fan Fan yesterday if she could buy a nice meal “with meat” for all the resident kids and staff at St Vincent’s; this is about 70 people.  The kids normally don’t eat meat more than once a week so this would be a special treat for them; also Sonya pointed out that eating dinner together is what you do with your family, so she wanted to have all of the team eat with the children.

We were very excited in anticipation of this, so imagine our frustration and disappointment when we were told this morning that the presidential election results would be announced today so we would have to leave the school in the early afternoon.  Many tears shed after breakfast this morning, but off we went to the school with plans to see as many kids as we could and hopefully spend some time with the children before having to leave.

Arriving at the school, I went straight to Pere Fan Fan’s office to discuss the situation with him.  Turns out he was upstairs with what we call “Drew’s kids”, that is the most physically handicapped children in the school.  These children are wheelchair bound and unable to leave their dorm room by themselves, so often spend the day upstairs even when other activities are going on downstairs.  I was very pleased to learn that the new priest in charge of the school ( Pere Fan Fan), goes upstairs to check on these children regularly.  Marie Carmelle, the cook at the school and a longtime friend, told me that the children were all very nervous and tense when their beloved priest Pere Sadoni left the school suddenly this summer.  For about a month the children did not know Pere Fan Fan and were anxious.  After about a month, Marie Carmelle tells me, the children started to relax.  Pere Fan Fan shows affection for them and takes some of them to the park on Sunday nights for ice cream and other entertainment.  

So, finding him upstairs with the most severely handicapped children was a pleasant surprise. He told me the election results would not be announced until midnight tonight, so we could stay for dinner!  Sonya and I hugged each other in delight.

Alison and I and Calley (CBU nurse) checked on Margaret and Vundla and Matthieu.  Alison is a clinical neuropsychologist so was evaluating Vundla for developmental delay and neurological responses.  This sounds very technical and boring, but it really means laughing and singing and trying to get the kid’s attention by being silly  (meanwhile monitoring their response).  

Claire with Vundla and Alison
So many emotions on the last day, thinking about things DONE AND LEFT UNDONE as we Episcopalians say in our Confession of Sin.  Have we remembered to give the prescription for cough syrup to the caregiver for Matthieu, who has a fever and a chest cold? Did I double check that we received all the medications we ordered and do we have a final inventory to leave with the priest when we leave?  Did we find the kid who came to clinic yesterday but left before he was fully examined?  Did we give a glucometer to the teacher with the 3 year old daughter with diabetes?  At the end of the day there was a run on glucometers.  I must try to write down all the promises I make to people to give them glucometers, because I always seem to come up one short.  Nothing like telling the music teacher that I gave the last glucometer away and I must wait until I return in March to bring him another one.  
Brittany and I try to give the teachers enough blood pressure and diabetes medicine to last until my next trip, because many of them will not be able to afford to buy their own medication.  If I can help these amazing people continue to care for the children of St Vincent’s, I feel like I am contributing in a small way to keeping this school going.  

The art teacher had his students give each of us a colored drawing they have been working on since last week.  A gift for the visitors, he told us.  A treasure to take home. 

At 3:00 the priest told us they had decided to announce the results at 4:00 so we would have to leave early after all.  But the cooks had managed to prepare all the food early, so we had dinner with the children as we had hoped.  I must say it was the best fried grease I’ve had all week, with griot (fried pork), marinade (fried dumpling), french fries, fried plantains, and picliz  (Haitian spice cole slaw).  My best experience of the day was getting a plate for Rochelle, my blind friend, and holding her violin while she ate.  She played for us today and also played in the bell choir just before dinner was served. 

Rochelle plays in the bell choir.
Leaving is always hard, and this time was no different.  Some of the kids came on the bus to say goodbye, hugs and kisses and tears all around.  It has gotten easier every time for me because I know I am coming back; first timers like Hilarie find it very hard to drive away on the bus.  

Hilarie with a lapful of kids
So much else to say but sometimes photos say it best.  We are all exhausted after this week but happy to have been a part of these children’s lives for a short time. 

Tess, Sherye and Brittany on the bus.

This entry was posted in Stories & Updates, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.