This was a very different trip for us. One of our good friends came with us and she ended up being just the little TLC that another little sick child at the orphanage needed. There were a few "extra" kids at the orphanage that all needed various forms of nursing to get over whatever sickness they were fighting at the moment. Our friend volunteered to nurse little "Olly" so they let us take him back to our hotel room for the week. We had 3 adults, and 3 children under the age of 2 in 1 room for the week. There are 2 "queen" size beds in the room and T and I shared one with Olly and Nathan and Brent and Jessica the Aerobic Sleeper took the other.
Olly had a fever and a cough and he wasn't eating and was very lethargic. I think he slept 16 hours that first day we had him with us. By the end of the trip, he felt well enough to play a bit and he was eating a bit and we got him to smile and laugh so T's time was well spent, I think.
In some ways it was like we were on a trip by ourselves this time. Our group was so large that dinners at the small hotel cafe were beyond chaotic. With three toddlers, it just wasn't worth the fight to try to keep them happy while you wait on "Haiti time" for your meal to arrive (the one night we did brave the cafe, we waited 1.5 hours for 2 ham and cheese sandwiches. Did I mention they weren't even HOT sandwiches?? I get the whole European "go slowly and enjoy the experience" thing about eating and ordering. I've experienced it many times on business trips overseas. But trust me... this is just ridiculous!) We ordered a lot of our meals via room service (I'd packed a little broom and dustpan, just in case) and it made meals much more peaceful and enjoyable for everyone. Plus we were able to keep better track of who was eating what which is always a good idea with sick little kids.
The big reason we spent a lot of time in our room this trip was so the kids could run at will and we were able to play with them uninterrupted. I think, in that respect, it was a better trip. We had more quality family time. They were able to toddle and do what they wanted and Mama didn't have to worry about anyone falling in the pool again this trip. Our kids weren't too keen on the pool anyway, although Jess did enjoy the one time that Papa wasn't busy being the human jungle gym for all the other kids.
There were political demonstrations all week long in the Presidential Plaza which is right outside our hotel. That's the other reason we didn't venture out much. One afternoon the hotel manager came around and told everyone that they needed to go back to their rooms immediately because the Haitian police had used tear gas on the demonstrators outside and we needed to wait inside until the air cleared. Another afternoon some of the parents wanted to go see the little market across the street in the plaza. One of the coordinators on the trip went to check things out and make sure it was safe. She asked a Haitian man on the street if it was safe to be out right then. He responded with "There's been a small bit of shooting. Maybe you wait a bit..."
Small bit of shooting? Isn't that like being "sort of pregnant"?? We found out later that the police had shot and killed someone in the plaza so it was a good thing we didn't go out.
Our kids were pretty healthy over all, but I'm really, really worried about our friends' daughter, Avrie. She's really struggling right now and is super tiny for a 2 yr old. Please keep Avrie in your prayers. The hot season is just starting and we haven't even hit the hurricanes yet. Sickness always gets worse when you add those factors.
The one point of good news is that the water filters are FINALLY hooked up and working. It only took 6 months because they don't have access to a Home Depot or Lowe's or the like down there. Brent brought down every part he could think of that might be what they needed to hook them up and somewhere in that he hit the mark. So at least they'll have access to clean water during the coming hot months.
Brent also got the solar panels hooked up, but given that everything needed to charge, we weren't able to validate everything was working before we left. We did get a couple of fans down there so hopefully the hot months will be a bit more bearable this year.
On the donation front, we were able to give the orphanage several thousand dollars from everyone's combined efforts. Those of you who donated or raised money for a generator, please rest assured that those funds are still set aside for that purpose. We found out in recent weeks that there is a very high rate of theft with conventional gas powered generators in Haiti. Another orphanage we know of had 3 stolen in the last year. Given that we don't have or want armed guards at our orphanage, we're trying the solar panel route to see if we can give them SILENT power. Solar cells are new enough down there that we believe they should be very secure as the general population wouldn't know what they were anyway.
We took down about 1400 lbs of Feed My Starving Children rice/soy mixture which should last the orphanage for a few months. We were also able to take down about 200 lbs of clothing, which is hard to come by in Haiti. Between the financial, food and clothing donations, along with finally having clean water, hopefully some of the stress will be eased for the next few months.
And us? We're already counting down to our next trip.... this whole process can't end soon enough for our tastes!
Oh, and congratulations to my blog friends who have been able to go to Haiti to bring their children home! Several people have finally finished the process over the last few weeks! Congratulations!
Here are a few pictures of our sweet kids: