Saturday, January 29, 2011

Following Andreas, Talien and Elines

Saturday morning 5 am - The rain is letting up, voodoo drums now have competition only from the roosters and the hum of electricity. With 'kouran' comes an internet signal and news that Andreas (FrostBike) has successfully completed his ride from Kingston to Toronto. WELL DONE, Andreas and team.

Many of our young people are close in age to Andreas and those who supported his challenge. How wise of the universal energy to bring them to-gether.

Andreas initially contacted us via email. Many of our young people here arrive with letters in hand, often from other NGO's unable to continue support. Sometimes the kids outgrow an organization, or it folds or leaves the area. That is how Talien arrived at our portay. After speaking with the referring agent and checking papers, Talien became a weekly visitor - quiet, shy, never asking for anything just using the facilities, eating and leaving. Then came kolera, and in November while I was stranded in Providenciales, his support system, his grandmother, died in the street trying to get past the fiery protest barricades to the cholera treatment centre.

He started to talk. Could we help with the rent as his grandmother paid until month end? Last Friday we visited. Our webadmin Daniel has posted a portion of that visit. I have the privilege of going where many etranje yo have never been. When I asked where he lived, he responded that his tikay was behind the gas station on Airport Road. Sounds uncomplicated. Take a look at the walk to his place (Click here to view video). Seems I have two modes of operation in Haiti, leading or following. I'm always following to get to a home visit. Interestingly, there is always a staff member following me.

Talien (school casual uniform) sits beside his possessions, cooking supplies

Only reading material -prized,tattered copy of Evangelists (French)

The squalor in which we often find ourselves always shakes me. His home is approximately 6 by 8 feet. That's it. No communal toilet, no water except raw sewage outside the door, no space to cook his meager meals, no furniture - infested with cockroaches (ravat-yo) and fire ants (foumi). His younger brother, with obvious signs of eye infection, shares the space. I asked how long he had experienced eye trouble. 8 years, since he fell out of a mango tree. He has been unable to continue school.
Younger brother Lusmond shares the space. Grandmother lived there also.
As we will pick up Talien's rent for the next 6 months,  I suggested looking for a place closer to school, preferably one with a window and a latrine. Not an easy matter. In the meantime, plans were made to send a team Saturday to work with him to clean and paint. The day prior to clean up, Talien arrived after school with a group of others. He presented Malaria symptoms so we started treatment, as clinics and hospital were closed. He said he needed to speak to me about an urgent matter. Obviously ill, he slowly made his way into the office, put his head on the desk and began. As the organization which sent him to school is unable to continue, how does he find help to attend university? He wants to study agriculture to help his country. I suggested we deal with Malaria first, cleaning his house next, getting him through the next 2 years of high school, then we'll talk university. This is a poignant example of the focus and drive which propel these young people. Life and school are about what you can do for your family, community and country.

In contrast to following Talien through the concrete jungle to his home, we've also posted a look at a home visit in Sen Rafayel - following Elines through the literal jungle (Click here to view video). His home is shared by sister Lunda (on our waiting list), brother Djohn (one of our staff) and father, disabled due to an accident which injured his leg. Broken bones are never set if you're poor. You either die of complications or live with the consequences. Mom died 10 years ago. Having watched his mother die and living with a disabled father, Elines wants to be a doctor.

School books (Elines) hang out of harm's way.

Following these young people to their homes is always humbling. Talien and Elines and their lives are representative of every young person we serve. For Talien in the city, there is a minimum 2 hour walk to school after leaving the concrete jungle. Two hours home again, usually on an empty stomach. How does one thrive eating once or twice a week? Elines as well has a long walk, hungry. Would I have made the same effort at that age? He also has an eye infection so we're making arrangements to get him down the mountain to the Opthalmology department at Justinien Hospital.

So many challenges just to go to school. Thank you again, Andreas for making a difference.
(Daniel here: Andreas's fundraiser raised $2,800)

More later.


Anonymous said...

I am so hurt for them. Bless you and your work-- I am speechless.

Peg said...

Well done, Andreas! And heaven bless Talien, Elides, and all the rest of your starfish. You all remain in my prayers.


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