A Travellerspoint blog

Gone Baby Gone - Part 2

So when I left off on Friday we had the baby – it was a very rough afternoon and evening as trying to bottle feed a breast fed baby is not easy – the formula was causing her all sorts of problems. But that was not the only issue we had no power. In the afternoon some guy with a truck tried to squeeze by another truck and in the process ripped down the power pole – sparks flying everywhere. The guy get out of his truck removes the live wires with a stick – and decides to take off. Well the neighbours chase after him – it was a sight to see all of them yelling and screaming – no one was happy. I guess it takes about 2 weeks or more to get fixed. Well they didn’t catch the guy – he had a truck and they were on foot.
So great we are now in total darkness – except for candles.

Around 930 that night the mom of the baby shows up – she got in through the clinic door as it was open due to Yvette being with a client. She is yelling and screaming to have her baby back – I am in the house with baby and Sarah is trying to talk to her. There is no reasoning with her – Sarah ends up calling the social worker and the special police force that deals with these sorts of things. It was interesting to see 4 police officers and the 3 social workers from the afternoon walk into the yard within less than 10 minutes. They ended up taking the mom away and we were unsure what was going to happen.

So Sarah is leaving at 3 a.m. to go to the airport – she is up trying to get ready and I with the baby trying to squeeze in sleep when I can. She leaves and I am now alone with the 3 children in the dark. Now I ask myself what am doing here?
Next day the lady that is supposed to work around the house but really doesn’t do much showed up. I am trying to pick up things to make it look clean for the girls and doing dishes ( there are always stacks and stacks of dishes to do) – I say to her look after the baby so I can sleep for a couple of hours but before I do that can you phone the social worker to find out what is happening with the mom. It turns out mom is in jail – unsure what they charged her with or do they need to charge her. All she wants is a change of clothes. So I will let the lady that doesn’t do much deal with this. I need sleep !!

Sleep was not to come – she woke me up every 5 minutes to ask me something. Finally I give up – the baby is gone when I ask where is the baby she says at the clinic – why I don’t know. She tells me I should bring the baby to the jail so mom can breast feed the baby – I say no. She then ask for a breast pump – I tell her to go talk to Yvette – Yvette says no to the breast pump. She is upset – she comes to get me and says please can you talk to Yvette. I talk to Yvette and I agree with her – we don’t know what is happening with mom let’s leave it like it is.
So that is all fine – I go lay down again – she says to me come to the jail with me – I have no desire to go to the jail – she is upset and she leaves to go bring clothes, soap, toothbrush, water and food. A short time later she returns she is upset because the jail would not allow her to give the mom the fork she brought – the mom didn’t want the food she only wanted the fork.

So she leaves – thank you. When she leaves they actually start to work on the power – to many people phoned in so they decided to fix it – it really had to do with the government building right across from us I believe. So we now have power – yeah !!!

So I finally get the baby settled for the night – get the girls to bed and do the dishes. I am ready to go to bed and my phone rings – it is the social worker saying to me she is bringing the mom back to me tonight as she doesn’t think jail is a good place for her. I say no – she is shocked by this answer – I tell her that is Sarah’s decision and she is in the states. She is very upset and I tell her I will get back to her. I phone Gwen a lady who runs an orphanage and she knows the social worker really well – I tell her what is happening. She says to me it could be just a communication issue as she wouldn’t return her tonight.

Gwen phones me back and says yes indeed that was her plan however nothing will happen until she speaks to Sarah. I already know Sarah has said no not until she returns. I don’t know what will happen at this point to the mom or the baby. And that social worker should get a life – who works 24/7 I guess they do here which is really amazing.

The baby is doing better so I get a least 3 hours of sleep – this is good. Sunday comes and I am feeling better. I also have time to take a shower – which is a good thing. Yvette has been wonderful – thank goodness for her – she provides moral support and a beer every night. I am really starting to look forward to that beer. Sunday was alright as far as the baby goes and the girls.

Sunday night finally get the girls to bed and the baby settled – I am to tried to do dishes tonight. I get into my little cot (I did take a picture but I can’t down load the pictures off my camera as I am unsure what I did with my cord) – cockroaches, ants, mosquitos and a six year old that wets the bed – oh it is all good. It was a long night however I made it. The girls are up at 6 for school and I get another little boy that comes over until school starts – it is all good except for the dead rodent on the floor. At this point it doesn’t even faze me.

So at this point lack of sleep, lack of food, worried and a little scared – and I am actually starting to like the sound of the cockroaches at night – it is like music that helps me sleep. I am now questioning my sanity !!! Oh and I have to make lunch for 15 people today – don’t know how I am going to that exactly but I have 3 hours to figure it out.

There are some wonderful things that have happened which I will write about later this week. I have to go as the lady that really doesn’t do anything is back – oh give me strength !!!

Posted by LiseD 07:02 Comments (0)

GONE BABY GONE

I don’t even know where to start – last week was a week of amazing highs to incredible lows. I don’t even think I can write about the highs as they have been over shadowed by the lows. Where do I start?

Here goes – early on in the week one of the children told Sarah that $50 US was found and now had gone missing. It didn’t take long to figure out that the mom of the baby had taken the money and now it was nowhere to be found. While Sarah couldn’t say for sure that is who took the money, she just gave her a warning. What happened after that was totally unexpected – she said she was going to leave as she was not going to live in a place where people didn’t trust her. Sarah was clear that she has two rules – no lying or stealing and that in fact she didn’t say she took the money. So a day passes and nothing happened and then the following day she informed Sarah she was leaving. Sarah was clear that she could not hold her back however would call social services as they had placed her with Sarah. She wanted to take all the clothes for the baby – Sarah informed her was not going to take the baby with her. She left.

She returned a short time later and took the baby – Sarah couldn’t stop her and she didn’t want to fight her when the baby was in the middle. Social Services was called – they had some idea of what part of town she maybe in but could not locate her. They stated that when they did locate her she would be placed in jail for kidnapping.

So the day after that she shows up without the baby demanding her things. Social Services arrive – they all drive motor bikes which is odd. Anyway they try to talk to her to figure out where the baby is and everyone gets into it – even the computer guy that was at the clinic fixing one of the staff’s laptops. It was a little crazy – after sometime and the threat of jail she decides to take them where the baby is.

Things get a little crazy as the people where she said she was staying at said she showed up that day asked if they could look after the baby as she needed to pick up her stuff – Social Services also went around the neighbourhood to talk to everyone – saying why would you take someone in with a baby and not ask questions – as this was a kidnapping they could all be arrested – well the neighbours did not take that well – a lot of shouting, etc. The mom felt she should be able to keep her baby and she wanted the police involved as social services had no rights to talk her baby – that made me smile I have heard that before.

At the police station it turns out that she is not 15 yrs old – which is interesting as earlier on in the week she had told me she wasn’t 15 but 18 – I just laughed about it – I am not laughing now. In Haiti if you are I think 16 or 18 with children Social Services cannot do anything unless the parent wishes to place their child elsewhere even if they are beating them – however in this case she has no proof of age and she lied to get services. If she gets proof of her age the baby will be given back to her. As well it turns out the likely father was a boyfriend who is nameless and not a rape as she told everyone. But the upside of this is that there is a special police division that will respond in 10 minutes if she trys to take the baby with Social Services permission.

So to make matters more interesting Sarah is leaving on Saturday to go to the States for a number of meetings to get funding and will be returning on Oct 16th. So that would be 10 days. The original plan was that I was going to care for all 3 girls and the baby. The baby was doing great and I was a little freaked out to be caring for 4 children in Haiti when I don’t really speak or understand the language. And I really don’t know how things work here. I was freaked out then ask me how I am doing now ??? So now I will have 2 children – one 6 year old with out of control behaviours – she is normally sweet but can blow up for whatever reason and is hard to control when she gets that way. A very passive 15 year old that I don’t want to add more responsibility on and a breast feeding 2 and half week baby with no breast to feed on. I have to ask women who come to the clinic if they would breast feed the baby and if there isn’t anyone I will bottle feed. And add the fear of someone taking the baby when I am not watching – I thought I knew what stress was before well I think this situation tops it all.

I just have to process all of this and get things in place – one step at a time – I know it should all work out as these things do and if it doesn’t I did get that extra insurance on my plane ticket to change flights – right now I am thinking about it ! Or maybe someone would like to come to Haiti for the next 10 days - free food and a place to stay !!

Well my sunshine, rainbows and unicorns have a few dark clouds but I know in the end I can do this – oh I hope I can !!!!

Posted by LiseD 12:49 Comments (0)

A SOCIAL LIFE ???

I had a very exciting weekend – I actually went out a couple of times at night. This is something I never do when I am traveling however I went out with people that live here so it made a big difference. First night the girls went to a bar on the beach front – it was so nice and cool. There are many little places along the ocean front in downtown Jacmel. We had a wonderful time – we ate fried plantains and pickly which was delicious. Beer here is $1 a bottle – Prestige I believe is the name and it sure tasted good. The only issue is that there are no washrooms – I guess there is always the beach. How lovely is that ???
The second night we went to this big bar in the most wonderful open aired building. It has to be open air otherwise you would melt. We went to see Patrick dance. Patrick is one of the extended family who has had a life beyond belief for a 21 year old. However he is a very nice guy who has worked really hard on learning traditional/modern dance.

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Patrick dancing

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Traditional Drumming

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Traditional Dancing

The dance troupe he belongs to travels all over the place. It was very interesting as it was to start at 8:30 – well it started at 10:30 and went until 3 a.m. – we left around midnight. Some people were hungry – so 2 things were on the menu – deep fried goat or beef with pickly. I passed on that – not an issue for me. It was so interesting to see a side of life I would not have seen – everyone was dressed in their fineness clothes and all were having a good time. It was fun and the best part it cost me a total of 35 Goudes which is less then $1 not bad for a night out. Oh as well as the entrance fee of $5.00 – this was considered to be a high class event.

On Saturday we went out for a couple of hours during the day to look at art work. Here they make two things – papier-mâché like you have never seen before which is made from the paper from concrete bags and steel art which is made from the left over oil drums. It is amazing stuff !! They also do some wooden things and paintings. The paintings are beautiful – but a little pricey. However everything is negotiable here – one shop owner was worried when she said the price and we walked away. She thought we thought that was the real price and what is just looking? I guess people don’t just don’t look around.

We went walking around all over the downtown area and it was very different then Nepal. No street vendors following you and harassing you – people basically left us alone except for a woman who thought we should all have Haiti T-shirts. I have to say the buildings while they are really run down or have suffered a lot of damage during the earthquake are beautiful. It really has a New Orleans feel and I found out the reason – New Orleans design was based on Jacmel. After the quake New Orleans sent a team down to Jacmel to assist with trying to save some of the more damaged buildings. I am hoping to spend a few hours just taking pictures of the buildings – I think they would look wonderful in black and white.
We also went to the beach on Friday – interesting place. There are many beaches around here – Jacmel was a town where people with lots of money lived due to the coffee and textile industry – that is not the case now. Anyway I had my first fresh coconut – they cut off the top and you drink the juice – and then after that they cut it again and you scoop out the coconut meat. All for about 20 cents and they even found me a straw – bonus! You can get any type of liquor here as well – it is odd. The water is very warm – the day we went a big storm came in and I actually felt a little chilly. I wouldn’t go bare feet on the beach itself – while it has been cleaned up, there is still lots of stuff on the beach front.

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Sitting around at the beach

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Fast food at the beach

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Have a drink on the beach

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The beach

We did attract a crowd of people – 4 white people with 3 local girls and a baby. Some people were a little hostile – they have very strong feelings about white people coming in to take advantage of them. I believe the key here was the baby – there has been a long history with orphanages in Haiti – I don’t know all the story but it seems that people should feel upset. When they understood what we were doing - Sarah with her clinic, looking after the 4 children and how long she has been in Haiti they calmed down and were very pleasant and joking around.
On Sunday we went to the church on the beach. The beach and land is owed by one of the orphanages – they are planning on building soon. It was a beautiful beach – and a breeze.

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The beach

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A breeze on the beach

The church itself was under a grass hut – it had more of a support group feel. People that have come over to assist in Haiti – it is a very hard life with limited resources – they need to count on each other. The only thing that upset me was this man who saw me holding the baby and asked if it was from an orphanage – I said no the mom is right there. He asked how old she was – I said 15 – and then he asked is that typically here? My response they have a high rate of teenage pregnancy in the States – is that typically there? Considering we were in church I did pretty good however what I really whated to say was for sure not church like so I am happy with my response.

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Baby’s mom

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Two of the girls on the beach

Well that is my social life – I don’t think my social calendar will be so busy this week.

Until Monday - much has happened this week so far and it is only Tuesday and I need time to really think about what is it that I wish to write about as some of it is to hard to explain !All I can say it is tougher here then I thought it would be but that could be lack of sleep and food talking !!!

take care===

Posted by LiseD 18:01 Archived in Haiti Comments (1)

My New Home

I am staying in Jacmel at a maternity center called the Olive Tree Projects (OTP).

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My room - High class living compared to Nepal but my bed is still rock hard. The other picture is of my front yard

Sarah is the person that started the centre in 2008. She is this amazing 26 year old that is a mid-wife and has been in Haiti since she around 19 years old. She comes from Devon, Alberta. She has started off small and getting herself established in the community and the centre has continued to grow. Her hope is to have a centre that trains local women to become midwifes and hopefully have them run their own centre. So far she has one woman who has just written her exam in the States and they are hoping she will lead the way. She is also involved with other local community projects as well as a partnership in a bottle depot. The bottle depot is really important here as people burn the plastic bottles which has to be the worse smell ever and also very toxic. I know I had my clothes hanging on the line and someone was burning bottles – my clothes just smelled awful.

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Picture of Sarah and a little one

Sarah runs the centre she as well cares for 3 girls. My focus is on the 3 girls who all have issues. Girl one – 15 years old, both parents have died and she has a newborn, less then 2 weeks old that was born as a result of rape. I spend a lot of time with her and the baby. As a matter of fact as I write this I am holding the little one as I have become the second mom to this babe. I am working on her attaching and bonding to the baby. It is difficult but we have made progress – I spend the first few days trying to get her not to leave the baby in different places. The draw back to that is if she needs to do something she comes to me to look after the baby which is not a big deal as the baby is usually sleeping. She speaks pretty good English so she has become my interpreter. They speak French, Cajun and in some cases a mix of both. I am starting to use French a bit more but it has been a struggle.

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The most beautiful baby in the whole world

The second girl is also 15 – her parents are dead as well. She had a baby but the baby died – I am not sure about what happened. She is your normal moody 15 year old girl - she has attitude. She does have a talent – cooking. She is the most amazing cook and can whip up meals in a very basic kitchen – and when I say basic I mean propane burners.

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The kitchen

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One of the 15 year olds and the 6 year old

The 3rd one is a 6 year old girl – and she is my challenge. At first she would have nothing to do with me however I kind of won her over for now. She had to do her laundry - I am back to bucket washing with cold water – I am becoming a pro at this. By the time we finished I was ready to put her in the bucket but I didn’t. So it was all good. Later in the day her mother and her two younger brothers came to do laundry which is another storyin itself. Things were going alright until the mother started yelling at her for no reason – she wanted her to kneel down for some reason – well she wouldn’t and the mother was ready to slap her across the face – she grabbed my leg and hid behind me which really got the mother even more out of control. Thank goodness another woman stepped in and basicly said that she may be the mother but she doesn’t care for the child – she pointed at me and I really don’t know what she said but I thought the mother was going to slap me but she didn’t. I just walked away with the girl. The next day first thing she comes to me with a whole bunch more “lavee” – oh what fun that was. We appear to be in a honeymoon phase which I think will change soon.

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The 6 year old - helping making lunch

The other person that is here is Yvette – she is a midwife from the States. She is an experience midwife who has been to Haiti a number of times. She is a very good teacher and let’s others become involved if they are willing to learn. So the other night a baby was born very quickly – like within 20 minutes of arriving at the clinic. I saw the baby within a few hours of its birth – Yvette went through all the steps for a newborn physical exam. She also told me that they do not cut the umbilical cord but burn it off. So I was able to assist with that – I know this is not for everyone but I thought it was rather interesting and for sure a learning experience. Hopefully when the next baby is born I will be present for the birth. That is not for everyone either but I just think it is amazing !

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Picture of Yvette with a little one

So that would be the current household – I should tell you there is a lot more people that come and go all day long. They are also part of the extended household that assist with various things or they just need a place to stay during the day in order to get fed. Lunch time the main meal of the day is very interesting and I am still confused about who is who. But I am sure I will learn their names at some point.

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Children at the clinic

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New born baby I helped with

So that is my new home !!

Posted by LiseD 07:27 Archived in Haiti Comments (0)

Do you know what sound cockroaches make?

Quick blog – next one I will actually talk about what I am doing and where I am living. What really is on my mind is bugs !! So the first night I am here I keep hearing this sound in my room – I am not sure what it is however every time I put the light on the noise stops. I thought I was hearing things – power goes out at 3 a.m. and the sound is a little louder – nothing I can do. Well the next day I am thinking I need to cool off so I will take a shower – not like a shower at home but it is cold water that kind of sort of comes out of the shower head. I look down and staring back at me is a cockroach – if you would have asked me at the time I would have said it was a least a foot long – actually the body was only about 2 inches. So I grabbed this little thing of soap and poured in on the little sucker. I didn’t what else to do – anyway I can say it had a clean death if nothing else. My concern is not that cockroach but I always thought they have a lot of friends – a very social creature as I recall. Well last night the noise was back – I wonder where his friends are ???

My next bug issue is ants – thousands upon thousands of little itty bitty ants. They crawl on you – I am always shaking my legs. It is not too bad if you don’t have food. They appear to be able to smell food that is sealed up as I learnt. I had an Aktins bar in my carryon which I had forgotten about. Well I see this little trail of ants going into my clothes – I didn’t freak out or anything – yes I did as I start shaking everything. Then I realized where they were going – right for the bar. It was not a pretty sight – bar and ants left my room through the window – everything is good now.

My only other concern and it has nothing to do about bugs – but my luggage has not arrived as we need to go to Port au Prince to pick it up. So the only thing I have as far as deodorant goes is perfume I bought at the duty free story - Acqua di Gioia – great smell however it doesn’t work so well as a deodorant – helpful travel tip. Any way I will get it tomorrow so hopefully things will improve !!

Until next time.

Posted by LiseD 12:22 Comments (1)

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