Here's a bit of a profile (if you will) on my boys:
The daily routine for my boys goes something like this. They wake up nice and early, generally around 5:30 I'm guessing and either hang out at their tent or come by my door to say hello and tell me good morning. After that they either go to school or hang out for a while. Most go to school in the mornings, but some go in the afternoon. All kids in Haiti go for either the morning or afternoon, though. I believe it's generally from 8-12 or 1-4. Some schools (the nicer, more expensive ones) are longer. The vast majority of my boys do not go to these schools. After that they start coming around the Guest House by 2, 3, or 4 p.m. It's very rare if we don't see them before dinner. Some boys aren't around that often, and other boys are around all the time - I think this depends a great amount on family life. I think it also depends on the type of relationship they've built with me, Paste Mike, and Bryan.
Some are fairly rich (by Haitian standards) and some are definitely poor. Stanley and his sister Carly are among the fairly rich ones. They always have nicer clothes, nothing with rips or holes, they've received a noticeably better education than the others, and he's never hungry when the others are starving. It is also obvious that Stanley's mom has a fairly large role in his life and works hard to take good care of him.
Most of my boys are on the poorer spectrum, though. They all go to school, but a good portion of them have holes in their uniforms - which tells me they don't go to a very nice school. The nicer schools won't allow you to attend class if your uniform is dirty or messed up. Also, the others are always asking for things - money, food, water, new shoes, etc. This is (rather obviously) because their parent(s) cannot afford most of these things.
Most of their family lives seem fairly unstable. I found out from Robenson yesterday that he, his brother Peter, and his sister Amanda, have three different last names. Amanda is a baby and I have never seen her father around. I've met Robenson's mother several times, though. I've also been in their tent... there isn't much in there. Just a few pots and pans, some blankets to sleep on, and some clothes. I don't know what Robenson's mom does for a living, but she provides what she can somehow. Actually, she seems to be one of the better mothers. Her two boys are always sweet, joyful, and don't ask for anything unless they really need it. It is obvious that they have been given a lot of love and attention.
The others, though, probably do not get much love or attention at home at all. I think that's why they like hanging around the Guest House so much. We pay attention to them, we give them hugs, we provide for them when we can, and we laugh with them. I know that they receive much joy from their relationship with us. I often reflect on how lucky they are to be in our tent city. I don't imagine that many other tent cities have a Paste Mike or a Beth. I am equally lucky, though. I am so blessed to have many bright, bubbly, loving, lovable boys in my life. I just wish some of their parents would recognize them for the true gems that they are.
That's what's so difficult in Haiti. There is no social security here (as far as I can tell) and so adults almost need to have children so there will be people to look after them when they get older. However, until they become adults, children are often times a great burden for parents. They can be quite expensive to care for, especially if you send them to school. Peterson was telling me today that his secondary school costs approximately $1000 US per year. (And he doesn't even go to one of the really nice schools.)
It's just sad in general how Haiti tends to view kids. In America, we totally revere and respect our children - recognizing that they're the future leaders, and recognizing a need to protect their innocence and childhood. For us, childhood is precious. I think some parents feel that way in Haiti, but others just view their children as an investment. It's very sad.
I don't know... they live such unstable lives. I know I keep on writing about instability... but I think that's what haunts me the most. They live in tents, many do not know their fathers, food and water are scarce, they sleep on blankets on the ground, they have to shower while standing in buckets in open spaces, they go to school now but don't know if their parent(s) will be able to afford it next year, etc. I think if I were in their situations I would be terrified. I would feel like my privacy was completely gone. I would feel alone. I would be angry at God.
I suppose that's also why I'm constantly inspired by these kids. They're still able to find joy. They don't feel alone but instead have formed a new community amongst themselves. The privacy issue doesn't seem to bother them that much. And as for being angry with God... well, two Sunday's ago when I went to Freres Church Stanley, Robenson, and Son-Son all came on their own. Without parents, and after the music just to hear the sermon. I was so... blessed to see that. They were building a relationship with God, on their own initiative, when (in my opinion) they should be mad at God. How amazing!
For now, though, I'm going to sign off and head to bed. I've been running things by myself because both Mike and Doug are on vacation back in the States so I'm one tired lady! Luckily, though, Mike comes back tomorrow so hopefully things will be less stressful/crazy. I hope you're all well!
P.S. I have a video of my boys here. It's a birthday message to Bryan, but you still get to see them and hear their voices.
P.P.S. In the midst of writing this blog I received a phone call telling me that I have enough funds pledged to move forward with plans to stay in Haiti. However, I'm still raising some funds for plane ticket, (maybe) health insurance, stipend, and a fund to help provide for specific needs that I see - new shoes for the boys, food, a new uniform, etc. If you would like to be a part of this, please let me know! :)