Thursday, July 30, 2009

I taught a kid to swim today

Orlando and Fabien dancing at the reception

Polento and me


Fabien joining the party

Cute ring bearers

Today, one of the kids swam across the pool unassisted. Tony, who is usually content swimming up and down the steps without letting go of the wall, was splashing around with me and all the sudden, all the arm movements I had been showing him for the last few weeks actually happened. I’m not going to say it was pretty- it looked like a little storm of feet and arms- but I let him go and he swam a good 10 feet unassisted. PROGRESS. Some of the other kids are getting close, but often realize that they’re bobbing there without me holding them after a few moments, freak out and reach for me to grab them as they flail themselves underwater. Water wings are still necessary and some physically choke me as they’re clutching with fear in the deep end (ahem- 5 ft deep). At least 4 of the 10 that come regularly can float, which is pretty good numbers if you ask me since several cannot walk unassisted, see very well or control their muscle movement.

One of the teachers from school, Yolaine, was married on Saturday and I went to the wedding with Gena, Norma, Maive and some of the Kay Christine kids. It was suppose to start at 5, so true of all Haitian events, it started an hour late at 6. It was the most bizarre wedding I have ever been to because 1.) There were 2 brides with 2 separate groups of bridesmaids 2.) Noone smiled for the entire 1 and a half hour ceremony 3.) All the women were wearing prom dresses.

The ceremony started with 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen doing a synchronized walk/dance down the aisle to Enya. After that, a woman in a wedding dress also did a little walk/dance down the aisle toward no one and then sat down with the rest of the guests. Apparently, she introduces the ceremony and is kind of a “throw away bride”. After this, it got more traditional, with Shadya (a girl from l’Ecole de Saint Germaine) as the flower girl and an adorable boy and girl ring bearer duo, followed by a few more bridesmaids. Yolaine came in next with her father, but sat across the aisle from the groom for the entire ceremony. The wedding was in a protestant church and was LONG, with 2 pastors presiding. After, we went to the reception, where the bride and groom did all the traditional things usually done publically in the US (like cutting the cake) behind a closed glass door. I sat with Maive and Polento, a sweet boy from Kay Germaine who announced that he will marry me someday. He’s 12 years old, and was abandoned and left HIV positive by his prostitute mother some years ago, although she died fairly recently. He’s responding very well to the medication, and left the next day with Gena to go participate in the Special Olympics in Germany. Psychologists have said that he functions at about a 6 year olds level, and like all the other kids, loved taking pictures with my camera. The reception was extremely short, with people eating, congratulating and leaving in just a little more than an hour. I suppose it’s very expensive to rent the space and power it with a generator for any long amount of time. I felt fancy enough in my favorite skirt and even put make up on for the event. Haitians dress very well for events, however, and considering their limited means, I am continually surprised. These dresses looked like they were bought for a high school dance, with embellishments and glitter which undoubtedly came from the US. I felt a little underdressed, but I’m sure I was much more comfortable than some of those women!

Fabien, a sweet 20 something year old who used to come to school at St. Germaine, was at the wedding as well. She lived with the aunt, who could not watch her well enough, so she recently moved to the orphanage and into Kay Christine. She’s unbelievably friendly and smiles constantly, always biting down on a small towel to keep herself from drooling. Although she can’t really speak, she kind of grunts what she wants and makes herself understood. Apparently, she made a habit out of sneaking out of her aunt’s house and taking a tap tap into Port-au-Prince and returning late at night without explanation. How a mentally handicapped girl can manage to get there and back and more importantly what she did while she was in city was a cause for concern, and so it was decided she would be much safer within the walls of the orphanage. She’ll be happy there with lots of other kids to play with and supervision will not be an issue. Yolaine was sitting on a couch in the front of the tables at the reception with her husband, and Fabien literally jumped into her lap to hug her. She then squeezed herself between the bride and groom and happily greeted the rest of the guests who came to offer their congratulations.

Monday was a little sad for me, because I went to the hospital to get Eveline for swimming only to find that she had been moved to a “more permanent setting” away from the hospital. I then asked if I could take one of the other girls from that room, Shnaika, only to be told that she had gone to the same place! I’m not even sure where they are, probably some other orphanage or medical center for abandoned babies and I’m not sure if I’ll see them again. I took my other two girls, Jolene and Liliana instead, but now I’m getting nervous that my babies will keep disappearing without me being able to say goodbye! I wish they could come to our orphanage, but the special needs house there is completely filled and a space will only open up if one of our children dies- once a child is there, they remain there forever because there are no resources for adults with special needs in Haiti.

This weekend is a trip to Jacmel. I’m quite excited to the see the Caribbean!

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