Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Parties, prison and plans for the DR

Party in Kay St Nicholas
The boys

Their beds all made with their teddy bears!

I have been working in Petionville all week, showing Elifet how to work with the special needs pre school kids and I’m very proud of him and his efforts. He takes one child downstairs into our new “office” (which I rearranged and am decorating) for about an hour at a time, and does all the things that I wish I had time to do with the kids everyday. I sit with them and embroider and tell him about each child that comes in and what they need to work on specifically, be in muscle control in the hands/arms, colors, shapes and numbers or just simple stimulation. The kids listen to him (even Jefferson who likes to throw things) and I’m confident he will do well with this. I plan to spend every Friday from now on in Petionville, helping him and the embroidering ladies in the afternoon when all the kids go home.

Last week was more time at the orphanage, and with Donatella and Renzo leaving, there was a small party held in Kay St. Nicholas, one of the boys homes. The boys were all around 12, and were very happy to receive hot dogs, coca cola and pringles. They showed us around their new house (they had just moved up a level) and as always, took a million pictures with my camera.

Friday night, Maive, Robin, Renand and I went to a party held by some of the St. Germaine ladies at their house near Tabarre. Jeana works in Petionville in Kay St. Elian and her sister Carmelle works in Kay Christine at the orphanage. They live in the house with their other sister, Jose. The house was modern and very middle class, far off the main road and up allyways. It was, of course, behind a gate and wall like all Haitian houses out of the slums. We drank prestige and coca cola and ate good food until midnight when we finally had to get going for the long drive back up to the ophanage. It was an awesome night.

I’ve mentioned one of our older boys who was in prison for killing another boy who grew up in the orphanage, but now comes an interesting twist. The boy who was killed, Onell, was the godson of my Uncle Lee, a priest who works at St. John Bosco in Lakewood. He was notified and asked how the other boy, Mario, was holding up in prison. The organization, noting his concern, asked if he would be willing to be Mario’s new sponsor while we attempt to get him out of prison. The situation is hazy, but what is clear is that Onell was a few years older than Mario and there was some sort of fight over food which Onell started. There was a knife and Mario was defending himself.

I went and visited Mario in the juvenile center on Sunday with Robin and one of the boys who grew up with him, Ti James. The outside looked like a construction site, and there were 150 boys from 11 to 17 in concrete rooms where they slept on the floor. We waited for an hour and a half to meet with Mario, and when he was brought out I was shocked almost to tears. He’s not even 5 feet tall, and looks about 14 years old. He has some sort of bodyguard another NPFS boy set up for him, so he’s safer than the other boys. However, we still had to slip him some money so he could pay off the other boys to let him sleep on a mattress for a couple hours. We told him I was Father Lee’s niece and that I would visit every Sunday, and he seemed happy at this. I know the boys are beaten, but we can’t really get a clear answer out of Mario about how he’s being treated when there is a guard standing by. NPFS is confident they can get him out of prison before he turns 18 and moves to the adult penitentiary, where he would be much worse off.

Vern, Mary Sue and Thomas are a family that have ties to NPFS and Father Rick and visit every now and again. They recently moved to the DR where Mary Sue works at the embassy, and visited us earlier this week. When Vern heard I was heading to the DR later this month, he offered to let me stay with them for a weekend, which I’m very excited and grateful for. Apparently, Santo Domingo is a very safe and interesting city AND HAS A MCDONALDS. I’m excited to head there next weekend to see the NPH home and see the city. I hope they have a Starbucks and Diet Dr Pepper, too.

The end. Miss you all.

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