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 piñata 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.
RACHEL COMES TODAY!!!!