Friday, January 15, 2010

Molly gives Haiti children her all

Molly is no longer able to add to her blog, her body was recovered from the wreckage of the Fr. Wasson Center in Petion-Ville, Haiti following the January 12th earthquake.

Molly's family is very proud of what she has done in her 22 years on this earth and hope that you will learn from Molly's writings what drove her to leave a life full of family, friends, hot water, clean water, plentiful food and peppermint frappuccinos, to a life of cold showers, bug bites, rice and beans everyday, and hot muggy days. Its very simple, THE CHILDREN. In Haiti she found unconditional love, simple pleasures, smiles all day and a second family. And it made her smile.

If you would like to help continue Molly's dream and journey, please follow the listed link to the Friends of the Orphans web site set up in Molly's name.

Posted by her loving and extremely sad family, both of them

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas and the Embassy

Christmas came and went, and was filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was devastated to be away from my family for the first time for the holidays. On the other, I was so happy to be with the children for the eventful week. You wouldn’t know it was Christmas in Haiti except for a few random inflatable Santas on the roofs of some of the buildings in Petionville. The weather, or course, is not wintery at all! We had a fake tree upstairs which mysteriously disappeared the week of Christmas. It really seemed to come out of nowhere, without the decorations, shopping and constant Christmas music!

On the 23rd, there was the St. Germaine staff party, including a gift exchange. I drew Dominique, and bought him a couple shirts at Target when I was home for vacation. Everyone was so excited to find out who their marraine or parraine was, and it became quite a game. A person started, and went to grab their gift. They came back into the room and approached several people and offered them the gift and a kiss on the cheek, before whipping it away to give it to the actual person. You were never sure if you should reach out and return the kiss, or refuse because you were being played! Anyway, I received 2 beautiful shirts from Juna, one of my favorite people here, and they were exactly my style! Dominique also seemed to really like his shirts, especially because they were from the US.

The 24th, there was a mass and piƱata party at the orphanage. The volunteers had a dinner afterwards of potatoes, hot dogs without the bun and wine. Caterina gave me a candle, Maeve gave me a funny Christmas hat, and Lucrezia gave me a beautiful beaded necklace. We made our wishes for each other for the coming year, and I think everyone’s for me started with “Molly, you’re so young…” I was sad that my American volunteers weren’t there, but it was fun all the same! I then escaped the adult conversation to watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

Christmas itself was spent in Kay Christine with their party. There was tons of food, and gifts for all the kids and staff. Everyone was enormously excited to receive their presents! Yvonne showed all 75 people her new purse and necklace, and Kenzie would not stop racing his toy car around the crowded room! It was very fun to see the kids so worked up and receiving so much attention. I then took the staff bus back down to Petionville to sleep in my own bed (which is now Robin’s queen size!) and see Johny and Renand.

The day after, some American visitors came and cooked a big dinner for the volunteers in Petionville. We had turkey and mashed potatoes and all that good stuff. At the end, they gave us little treat bags with all the food we've been missing from the US!

We had a very difficult situation on the 28th. Father Rick received a call from the American Embassy that a boy had been abandoned there by his mother and they needed a place for him for a day or 2. He was in the states with his family, and called and asked me to handle it. Renand drove me to the Embassy, where we picked up Jacques Christo and took him to the hospital. He’s 7 years old, and very, very smart. He calmly told me his mother left him and wouldn’t be coming back, and that he thinks his dad is in Miami. Jacques was born in Brooklyn, so he’s an American citizen, but neither of his parents are. He speaks English and Creole fluently. He was born with a cleft palette and has already had several surgeries, but needs another soon. Maybe his mother didn’t receive a visa to go to the US with him for the surgery, or maybe she couldn’t afford to send him on her own. I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt- but what kind of mother just leaves her child, especially when he’s old enough to know he’s being left? We spent the evening eating M&Ms and Doritos in the guest house, and then I put him to bed. At first he was having a good time, but after awhile he realized he wasn’t going home and was upset and scared. He kept asking if he could call his mother and ask her to come back. I spend almost everyday with the abandoned babies in the hospital, and it’s difficult to comprehend why and who would ever give them up. I’ve never encountered an abandoned child who is so aware of his situation, or one who feels the pain so freshly. It broke my heart. We played with the babies in the hospital the next day, and Jacques was excited to meet Moise, who also had a cleft palette. I took him back to Petionville for the night, and am taking him to the embassy later today. They say his mother will be there, but she has to meet with a lot of social services.

7 year olds do keep the energy up, and Jacques has me on my toes. From coming over to my bed and screaming “WAKE UP!” in my ear at 4:30 AM to telling me he doesn’t go to sleep until 100 o’clock, he is definitely an interesting kid. He fell in love with Renand and has been following him around all morning. We will see what happens with him, but he is definitely better off than the other abandoned children, because if anything, he will fall into the American foster care network instead of an overcrowded orphanage in Haiti.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Halfway point

I just got back from home last week, and had an awesome time aux etats unis. My parents met me at the airport with Diet Dr Pepper and Taco Bell around midnight on Tuesday. I spent Friday in Naselle with the fam, Saturday in Tacoma at the wedding, Monday taking the stupid GRE and Tuesday in Portland with friends. I ate at 10 different fastfood places and drank copius amounts of grande peppermint mocha frappachinos. For Christmas, I then received a frappachino maker which I sadly had to pack away. It was 90 degrees when I left Port au Prince and 14 degrees when I arrived in Seattle.

So now I'm back, and after spending the night in the Fort Lauderdale airport (my least favorite airport in the entire world), I slept for 2 days straight. I woke up to entertain some visitors, and then had dinner with some American actors who came down to see Father Rick- Annalynne Mccord from 90210, Olivia Wilde from House and Jimmy Jean Louis, the Haitian from Heroes. It was really weird.

Currently, I'm trying to figure out Christmas scheduling here. There's the St. Germaine party in Tabarre tomorow, the hospital party on Christmas eve and Kenscoff's celebration on the 25th. Alot of places to be at, but I'll pick and choose, and make sure that I'm somewhere quiet where I can watch Christmas Eve on Seasame Street on the 24th like every year.

Its very weird to think that my trip is more than half over at this point. Since school started up in September, it really has flown by. I have a ticket back to Seattle on June 8th, so really, I'm only here for 5 more months and some odd days. My frappachino maker is waiting for me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving was very fun, with 5 Americans and 40 Haitians to cook for. We made 2 turkeys plus all the regular other stuff, and had a big celebration in the living room of the Father Wasson center.

We have a problem everyday getting TiBeth off the school bus (“ti” like “petit”= little beth). She’s probably 10 years old and has Downs Syndrome. She rarely smiles, but rather stares at you very seriously while refusing to do anything you say. When we get to school or get back to the center, she sits quietly in her seat and tells us she’s too scared and to leave her alone, please. If you touch her to help her off, she screams and it’s no use trying to lift her because she’s a heavy girl who knows how to squirm away. It takes a lot of coaxing and often bribing her with my sunglasses to get her to stand, and even then you have to pull her. Last week, she was almost off the bus, but then decided to jump into the driver’s seat and scream madly that she wanted to go to Port au Prince while trying to shift the gears. Yesterday, I went upstairs to the living room on the 6th floor after we came back with the kids. 30 minutes later, I heard the very familiar voice talking in the stairwell, and found TiBeth talking to a statue on her way upstairs. She somehow bypassed at least 20 employees to climb 6 stories, and still just stared at me when I tried to help her down the stairs. She sat down and refused to budge, so some staff members came up to literally force her downstairs. She is one of my favorites. When her dad comes to pick her up, he puts her right on the back of his motorcycle and she has absolutely no problem with that form of transportation.

TiBeth in one of her happy moments

Recently, my photocopy Robin has decided that her time in Haiti is up for the moment. After being volunteer coordinator and getting me here, she moved up to Assistant National Director, and then to National Director while Father Rick was out of the country so much. I will miss her quite a bit, but we have had several goodbye parties for her so far which usually involve gin and tonic. Here’s a picture of us on the roof of the hospital with our drinks and Mexican pringles.

Today was the Universal Day for the Handicapped, so we had a big program at Kay St. Germaine with the preschoolers and some of the Kenscoff kids coming down as well. The volunteers started off at mass at the hospital, with Father Rick back in town. After that, we went to bless the babies that died in the hospital the night before, which I’ve never done before. It was devastating to see them be unwrapped, cleaned, blessed and rewrapped to be buried. 2 children died last night, and 3 more the night before so there were several bodies on the tables. The hospital, on average, loses 2 or 3 children a day.

The kids have been working on their dancing and singing for a month now, and were so cute in their dresses and ties. At the end, they all received presents from Santa Clause, who we have been calling on the phone every morning in class to remind. It was my last day of work in Tabarre before I leave for vacation in the states early next week.

Nazarelle, from the preschool


My Aunt Christina, who did NPH in Honduras, did a shoe drive at her school and raised a lot of awareness and supplies for the orphanage. I made this video with the kids to say thanks!

After I figured out how to use the movie making program on my computer, I made one of today’s festivities, too:

I’ll be home on Tuesday and am so freaking excited to see everyone! I plan to get Starbucks in Ft. Lauderdale, McDonalds in Atlanta, and Taco Bell in Seattle. Love you all! See you soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My aunt's godson, Jameson. We decided we're cousins.


This week was an interesting one, with lots of visitors, a new volunteer to introduce to Haiti, and a 2 year old to babysit! I spent the week showing Lucretcia all there is out of Kenscoff, including the hospital, Kay Germaine in Tabarre and Kay Elian in Petionville.

Jennifer, an American woman who works in our fundraising office, was here with a big group of visitors and to visit the baby boy she and her husband are adopting. Damian Frechette (after St. Damien hospital, where he was abandoned, and Father Rick, who gives his last name to the abandoned children) is 2 years old and the cutest kid you could imagine. Jennifer first met him in the tap tap room of the hospital, where my therapy babies come from, and wanted to adopt him immediately! They told her he was already being adopted, but it didn’t work out, and 9 months later, he was still in the abandoned baby room. Erin found her and asked if she was still interested. She was and they’re in the process now! How cool is that story? It’s wonderful to see the good that can come out of that room, because those children are still available to be adopted where as the children at our orphanage are not.

So Erin and I babysat Damien on Wednesday night so Jennifer could go to a business dinner with Robin, and had a great time! He’s running around everywhere and talking up a storm (in creole, of course) like a normal 2 year old. He wanted to throw pillows and eat chocolate chips and stare at all the cars out the window all night, so we let him, because volunteers are meant to spoil the children from the hospital!

I spent a long weekend at the orphanage, going up on Thursday and relaxing in the cool, quiet mountains. We had visitors Saturday so the kids had a big program with lots of dancing and music. The girls are such good dancers and are beautiful in their costumes! I left Kay Retreat at 9:30, and before I even made it to the office at 10:00 I had been knocked down by a very excited special needs girl giving me a hug, helped an 8 year old out of the wet cement she stepped in, and proofread a speech someone wanted to give in English. It was a normal day!

Some of the boys ready for mass

Erin and Vicky ,the youngest kid at the orphanage

The girls after the program

Kay Christine is always an experience. Often I will sit and embroider with the older residents who are done with school in the mornings, which I enjoy very much. Sometimes its silent, and sometimes Daniel starts pacing the room in his walker so Selena decides to try to knock him over and he starts to yell incoherently. And then Yvonne comes in and between hitting anyone who touches the scarf she always carries, sings at the top of her lungs “YVONNNNNE YVONNNNNNE YVONNNNNE”. As always, Innocent is making trouble, and while he’s sitting on the toilet will grab the mop and start poking people as they walk by the bathroom yelling for Maeve or I to come give him a kiss. Rose Therly comes home during recess and starts dancing to no music, and then steals my sunglasses and has people take pictures of her. Cedline is as always sitting outside in the sun yelling to herself, and then Alexei bites down on his lip and 5 people jump up to try to make him unclench his jaw before he starts to bleed. Kay Christine is always moving.


Of course, there’s always sadness to focus on if you choose to. You’ll look down and see the burns someone put on Yvonne’s legs, maybe in an attempt to burn the seizures she often has out of her. Clotaire will get to excited from singing to us and have an epileptic fit. And then Watner, who was found burning in a pile of garbage as an infant, wanders over from the kindergarten looking for a treat. He only has half his fingers and scalp.

But then, Fabien comes in and trips all over herself to run and give you a hug, and Inderra makes eye contact with you from across the room and starts to laugh uncontrollably. You gotta focus on the good.

That’s the new from Haiti. Miss you all.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things since the last post:

-Work, work, work:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: Classroom from 8-9:30,
Hospital from 9:30-10:30
Pool from 10:30-12:00
Autistic/least functioning children therapy from 12:30-1:30

Wednesday: Horse riding with the kids, autistic/least functioning therapy in the afternoon

Friday: Early intervention, embroidery with the special needs childrens' mothers

I get home early (2:30 ish) but am still working on translating documents from French to English for the hospital and always have embroidery to catch up on.

-The day of the dead included a trip to the Hotel Ollefson for a voodoo death ceremony, where I was blessed by a voodoo priestess. I don't really know what that means, but I'll roll with it. Erin and I then preceded to (kind of) break into an empty (maybe?) room to check it out. We were found and escorted out, butthen convinced our escort to give us a complete tour of the hotel grounds.

-All Saints Day started with mass at the hospital, a trip to the public morgue and then a trip to the cemetary where we bury the abandoned dead. A terrible day.

-We went back to the cemetary where Emilie is buried to say a blessing, and saw several voodoo offerings and burnt ground from past rituals. Haitian cemetaries rent their plots out, and when the family cannot pay any longer, the body of their dead relative is unceremoniously pulled out of the grave and burned against the cemetary wall. We saw many bones, alot of garbage, and alot of empty graves.

-I saw the inside of Cite Soleil with Father Rick and entourage, where he went to pick up some metal art made from oil drums to sell to our fundraising offices. Terrible poverty with frequent violence, but it was a calm and quick trip just through the barriers. There were tons of children who saw us and yelled "HEY YOU! HEY YOU!", a habit they apparently picked up from the UN.

-Saw more of this metal art at a festival, where I spent my monthly stipend buying some awesome things. Pictures to follow.

-Good times with Erin and Robin, the other American ladies here. I'm very glad to have them.

-Devestation when I went to the hospital to discover my Jolene girl had been transferred to an unknown orphanage the evening before. I don't know where she is, but I'm trying to find her to force her caregivers to bring her in for physical therapy. She was so close to walking on her own, and they left her orthopedic shoe behind. They ended up doing a complete overworking of the tap tap room, with all my abandoned babies being sent out (including Carmella and Cassandra). Annabelle is the only one still there. On a more positive note, however, Liliana and Joseph (2 of my abandoned therapy babies) have been deemed healthy enough and promoted to the tap tap room. With them comes Moise (Mo-ese) a little boy with a cleft pallette and a little malnourished girl whose name I don't recall at the moment. Jo's bed is empty at the moment, and her names is still on the wall.

-I learned to make pizza from scratch.

I'm coming home for a week one month from today. Be excited.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's been awhile, but I've been very busy with work and such. School is in full swing, and I have a slew of new responsibilities and activities to take my time.

Now at school, I'm working with the most special needs children who are unable to learn in our school and tend to disrupt. Taisha is autistic, unresponsive and uncontrollable. Chrisitian is the same, but will babble to himself and steal from the other children. Clara is content to lay on the floor, and if you try to pick her up (which is difficult, because she is a heavy girl) she hits, screams and lays back down in the end anyway. Working individually with these kids is part of my day, trying to get them to sit, control their movements, listen to direction and letting them exert all the energy outside.

Still swimming with the kids several times a week, though for shorter periods of time. The kids need to be in class, so its more of a cool off/recreation time than actual lessons. The school day is also shortnened, because the kids really cannot handle more than 6 hours. Instead of taking the bus home at 3, it leaves at 1:30 which leaves considerably less time to get everything I want to done. I come back to Petionville and embroider or translate documents for the hospital for a few hours and call it a day.

My babies at the hospital are all doing fine now after a little drama in the last few weeks. Going to the hospital has become so difficult, because I have to search for the weaker babies every time I go. They are constantly moved from recovery to urgent care to special needs, and without a parents to sit with them when they are in the sick room, I have become that person. I sit with the other Haitian mothers for as long as I can holding whichever baby is sick, but this leaves less time for therapy with the healthier kids. Last week, I went to my newest girl's bed to find her having a seizure. She's being medicated but her malnutrion has caused neurological damage.

After all this stress, I got very sick for about a week. It doesn't help that when the children are sick, their parents send them to school anyway. Several of our kids had the flu and were still put on the school bus, where they wilted in the heat of Tabarre and couldn't stay sitting up in class. I caught the flu from Cindy, a little girl with downs syndrome who crawled in my lap when she was too sick for her chair anymore. I went to the doctor and was told I had the flu, laryngitis and a respritory tract infection and laid around all week.

After all that, I prioritized and cut back at the hospital. I will continue to work with the special needs children there, but will not take responsibilty for any more malnurished children. I will only take 2 of the 6 children I have to St. Germaine for therapy, because the walk there is hot, humid and draining for the babies. They don't have the strength to be moved and face the heat like that.

Its been a challenging few weeks, and I'm looking forward to coming home for a break in December. My newest problem is deciding when to come back to Haiti. I could come back after a week at home and meet some celebrities that are coming to visit (James Franco and Charlize Theron) and spend Christmas here OR spend another week and a half at home and see everyone. Its cheaper to come back later and lord knows I'm broke, but it would be cool to meet these people and spend Christmas with the kids. On the other hand, I need a break and I don't know if a week will do it. I'm very open to suggestions here.