Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haiti Day One

Day One – 4:30 am

Airports are chaotic. No matter how well you plan ahead, here are a hundred things that can go wrong to delay you and create stress. It starts with the taxi that is supposed to pick you up at 3:30 am not arriving. Once at the airport, there’s the electronic check-in process which is supposed to simplify things but rarely ever does. Then there’s the luggage – tons and tons of luggage. Security clearance, where you must take everything out of bags and put it all into bins and take off your shoes and put them on the conveyer belt. Soon – they’ll be implementing strip searches. I’m certain it’s just a matter of time. And, TSA people, bless their hearts, need to go back to 2nd grade science class and learn the difference between liquid and solid. I don’t care what they say, toothpaste is not a liquid! The paintbrush in Mary’s bag is, to them, a packet of razorblades and her bag must be hand checked completely and then run back through x-ray. They seem to think that our team member Paul has hidden something quite dangerous in his wheelchair It looks like they’re about to take it apart.

Our trip already is different than we anticipated. One of our members, Annie-Claude, has had to withdraw from the trip at the last minute. She has been in terrible pain thanks to a pinched nerve of some sort. Some would say that one less person means less potential conflict and less, overall, to deal with. Those things may be true, but it is disappointing to plan a trip with someone who is then unable to go. We must all adjust now and take on her responsibilities during the trip. Annie-Claude was also our fluent French speaker and we were relying on her for translation purposes. Our disappointment is great but, I suspect, not nearly as great as hers.

Nonetheless, we are excited. Our flights have been on time. We had a good lay-over in Miami which meant a lunch of excellent Cuban food. Our arrival in Port-au-Prince went without incident. We have arrived at the Mephibosheth house.

Haiti is, of course, hot and humid. It is dusty and dirty. The roads are full of pot-holes, and proceeding through traffic takes strong nerves, patience, and continual prayer for safety. We have met the children, somewhere between 16 and 20 of them. They welcome us graciously. They are incredibly charming.

The first boy I met today is Kens Pierre. We met as he was scooting himself out of the pantry using his elbows for locomotion. When Kensy arrived at the Mephibosheth house, he had a different name. His name was Poo-ki-Sa which means, in Creole, ‘why?’ In trying to convince Madame Dio to take him in, he gave her his sales pitch “I can go three days without eating.” Here he is fed 3 meals daily. He is happy and healthy. He is bright and sweet and loves music and singing and is a leader of the other boys. He and another boy, Ywensen have been leading the boys in a daily devotional time. It was their idea – they wanted to do it. Kensy ‘preaches’ or leads the devotional time while Ywensen leads the singing.

In the US, we take the social services we have for granted. If a child is born with a physical or developmental disability, we work to make things better. We view our children as special and loved, no matter their level of ability. Things are a little different here. There are no services, and there is no health care as we know it. These children are often considered disposable. But here at the Mephibosheth House, they are valued and valuable. They are encouraged to grow and reach their full potential. It may look like we are the ones ‘giving’ while here. But, I think it’s more likely that we’ll be receiving.


  1. I have met Kensy and Ywenson, both sweet sweet little boys! How long were you with Mrs Pierre? I am an occupational therapist that worked with the 2 boys, among many of the other children. I last saw them in May, do you have an update on their health?

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