So I don't usually update two days in a row, but today I hit a tough moment.
The day started off wonderfully. Peterson and I went to his school and I met another English class. The principal of the school was very excited to see me and sat down to talk to me for a long time. They made me promise to come back again next Saturday to help students. They weren't planning on me coming today so there wasn't much I could help with today, but next Saturday is bound to be an experience. However, it was hilarious that I was asked twice if I was married and once if I had a boyfriend. When I responded "no" to the boyfriend question one of the men in the class responded, "I will be your boyfriend." Too funny.
After that we went to the Epid'or for lunch and apparently a famous person was sitting right next to us. He was a white guy with long hair and Peterson told me that he's a singer in a band that performs Voodoo songs. He's a well-known guy in Haiti I suppose. Weird.
Around 3 Johnny (our driver) and I departed for the airport to pick up the COR team. We arrived early so we just hung out in the tap-tap as we awaited the team's arrival. This is when the "moment" happened.
I remember that on the first night I was in Haiti I was talking to my mom online. I was crying remarking on how difficult the next two months would probably be. (Now, I realize I was crazy for worrying - but that's how I was feeling at the time.) During that conversation my mom said, "Well, Beth, you may feel the need to just sit down and cry every night. There may be things that you see and experience that you won't have any other response to but to sit and weep. And that's okay." Although I haven't had many times where I had no other response but tears, today I did.
At the airport, you are constantly accosted by people for money. Many people beg outside the gate of the airport asking for just a little bit of lajan (money.) I don't even bring money to the airport anymore because then I'm not lying when I say "M pa gen lajan." (I don't have any money.) I'm just so used to responding in that way that I often don't even pay attention to the people asking anymore.
Today a boy, around age 14, came to my window while I was sitting in the tap-tap and said, "Madam, please read this." He then put a piece of paper on the window for me to read. I read the first three sentences, "I am an orphan. My mom died in the earthquake. I sleep on the street." I didn't even finish the piece of paper before responding with "M pa gen lajan." It may sound heartless, but like I have explained so many times - the kids begging for money are often trafficked kids. The trafficker will have them tell any story to get white people to donate money and then the money doesn't even go towards the child but helps the trafficker to continue his profession. If I have water available or food on me, I always give that - but I never give money.
However, as soon as I said, "M pa gen lajan," the boy looked sad and a confused. He shook his head, "No money, madam. Read." That threw me off - a child telling me their sad story but not wanting money? I looked at the bottom of his sheet. It read: Please adopt me.
"Ohh," I replied, "You want adoption?" He shook his head excitedly and proceeded to pull out his birth certificate and a photo page of his kindergarten graduation. He had the birth certificate to show that he had documentation. I think he had the graduation photos to show what his life once was and probably also to illustrate how he would like to continue his education.
Johnny asked him a few more questions and found out that his dad had died before the earthquake and his mother died during the earthquake. Now he lives on the street and does not go to school. More than anything he'd like to be adopted and cared for. He did not want a temporary solution (money) but a permanent one.
I told Johnny that I would love to help - but I'm too young to be a full time caretaker of a 14 year old boy. Besides that, I don't have the money and it would still probably take me 2 years to fully adopt him. Johnny explained all of this to the boy and he looked crushed, but just responded with, "Okay. Mesi, madam." After that he retreated to a median nearby, sat down, and started weeping.
There are so many reasons why I wanted to help this boy. First of all, to be 14 and alone is heartbreaking. No brothers or sisters even. It's just him. Second of all, I really sympathized for his deep desire for his life of inconsistency and tough situations to end. He just wants some stability, comfort, and love. Third, he is an at-risk boy. If a good family does not get a hold of him - someone else will. He could become a victim of sex trafficking, labor trafficking, or he could easily end up a restavek. It broke my heart that he was trying so desperately to not end up a victim and get on the road to a healthy, full life - but there was nothing I could do.
When he walked away and started weeping I started to become more desperate - raking my brain trying to think of an orphanage or other safe place the boy could stay and would be cared for. Unfortunately, though, every orphanage that I could think of is full and would not have the resources or space to take him in. Instead of helping, I had to sit and watch as he lost hope, once again.
I couldn't help it. My eyes welled up. They well up now just thinking about it. I so hate these moments when you feel so compelled to do something - anything - and yet you cannot. This situation was the worst I have encountered yet, though. I think mostly because I know that tonight I will get a full meal, sleep in a comfortable bed, and I will continue to lead a fairly comfortable life until I die most likely. He, however, will go to the streets, not eat, sleep on concrete, and continue to lead a life that is one big question mark.
Please say a special prayer for this young man tonight. Pray that he may find someone to give him the proper care, love, and attention that he needs. After that, thank God for stability. It is more of a luxury than we often care to realize.
Sending love your way,