Nov 12, 2011
Thoughts for the month....
Since moving to Haiti I have learned to expect the unexpected because you never know what the day is going to bring. Jeanie and I celebrated 9 months here in Haiti by becoming temporary foster parents to a child that was abandon in our clinic several weeks ago. (Don’t worry the little one has found a home in an orphanage with some caring sisters). Carlos (we later named him) was left on the small couch just outside our clinic with no information just a blanket and extra diaper. He looked to be around 8, did not speak, walk or do much movement at all. He was very thin and somewhat malnourished but could sit on his own and appeared to have some autistic like qualities. It was easy at first to think who could possibly abandon their own child but after more thought I realize that I have never walked a day in a moms shoes. Or was it even his mom that brought him that day?
The more time we spent with Carlos we began to wonder what life was like for him. It took us over an hour to feed him and he could only have somewhat thick liquids. Everything else looked like it was heading straight to the lungs or was coming right back out at us. His mom probably had a much better way of feeding because after all she had kept him alive all these years. Why did Carlos never cry or seem to have difficulty transitioning to a completely new environment and unfamiliar people? Had it just become too overwhelming for his mom? Was she unable to work and provide for the family because she needed to look after Carlos during the day? That is a common struggle we hear from many of our single moms with children with disabilities. I often wonder what would I do in that situation. You are a single mom with several kids including one with significant disabilities living in a place that has absolutely no support for people with disabilities and no Medicaid or government help. In fact children with disabilities are often hidden away from society out of fear that they can give what they have to other children or that a curse has been placed on them. There are no disability protection acts and nothing in society is wheelchair accessible or made for people with a disability. No form of public transportation that someone in a wheelchair can access, and only the really wealthy have access to cars. What kind of future do they really have??
There is only one special needs school that I am aware of in the whole country. After all less then 50% of all children get to go to school here. I think of in my own country where everyone gets to go to school including the disabled and yet we have many that skip school or throw away the opportunity without putting forth any kind of effort to learn. Here there are kids that can only hope for the opportunity to go to school. Some families only have the ability to send one child so often it is the boys that get to go to school. I have also spoken to some children that were going to school and then had to stop when they could no longer afford it.
We did celebrate a victory this past month when Beetlove a child I previously blogged about got to go to the school on the compound. A child going to school in a wheelchair here is a rare thing but that she did. It took a team effort and a very passionate caring Haitian teacher to allow this little miracle to happen. Beetlove finally has a purpose to her day and it has carried over into her motivation for therapy. She is now transferring herself in and out of her wheelchair and independent in most mat mobility and transitions. She even attempts to push her own wheelchair short distances and stood for the first time in a walker with support and knee immobilizers the other day. This is the first time she has stood outside a stander since her hip dislocation and cast placement. You certainly have to celebrate the small victories or you can be overwhelmed at times by the challenges of life here.
My whole life I have been around children with disabilities My mom at a young age would take us to work with her or help watch children when families needed a little respite care. I have always been drawn to working with these special children and God has given me the ability to see past the disability and see a child or person that has so much to offer. Some of the greatest lessons I have learned in life have been from individuals that can’t necessary walk, talk or even move as I do. I love that everyday we get to work with individuals that have some form of a disability but there families are willing to bring them out into society and come to therapy. Which here in Haiti is a big deal. Together we get to celebrate the small victories as they learn to hold their head up or use their hand again or even for the first time. Often the progress is slow and the challenges are big without the outcomes that some families want to see but together we are learning so much from each other. It is all part of the journey. I do pray there will be a day that people with disabilities here in Haiti will be seen as the people they were created to be, not cursed or outcasts and all will get to experience the love they have to offer.
As always I continue to thank you for all your love, prayers and continued support. It has in a lot of ways been a challenging month but God continues to show me He has an even greater plan for each and every one of us. Blessings!!!!