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A week in Haiti

Haiti August 20th to August 27th

Yvette Connell in HaitiColleen and I went to Haiti for a week to volunteer at a home for 13 HIV positive orphans. Trisha and Ray Comfort are an American couple who after a missionary trip to Haiti felt called to stay there as Missionaries.

At this time they are caring for thirteen orphans and building a new facility at another site in a neighboring town. They are extremely overcrowded at the present home. The kitchen is the size of a Bronx apartment kitchen. The dinning area is so crowded that if someone has to get up from the table a number of children have to get up to open a passageway. They have no open space to play but for a small concrete area. The tiny bedrooms are stacked with bunks. We were on concrete all the time.

Listed below are the children at the Comfort Home

Yvette Connell in HaitiRoodline: 16 year old girl who did not start HIV meds until she was 10 consequently has dementia and falls frequently due to poor balance. Her chores are to scrape the cooking pots clean and to open the gate when someone wants to get in. She is very affectionate and tries to participate in all of the children’s activities.

Nadia: 8 year old, very keen on learning, can read Dick and Jane. Knows her numbers and can do basic adding.  We worked on telling time. Has a great deal of duties, helps with the two year olds, washes dishes, pours water into containers to put in the frig after it is filtered, sweeps out the play area, feeds the dogs.

Jessica:  7 year old, wants to learn but gets very frustrated when things do not go well. We worked at writing “Y” and “K” two letters difficult for her. Her household responsibilities are similar to Nadia’s.  She knows which clothes belongs to whom a feat when you have 12 brothers and sisters and many of the same size.

Christian 7: Not on HIV meds yet but keeps getting his CD4 count checked. He loved to do puzzles. While we were there he slipped on the slippery concrete floor during a rain shower and bumped his head very hard. He started throwing up at supper time and had episodes until midnight. He was up and about the next morning as if nothing had happened. A concussion I am sure. Trisha was up with him and kept watching the size of his pupils. Kids are marvelous. He helps the babies at meal time by cooling their food and tying them into their chairs and putting on their bibs.

Yvette Connell in HaitiWilliam: A tiny 6 year old born without an anus. Has had two surgeries. One more harmful than helpful the second much more helpful but does not have control of his bowel movements. He wears pull ups and takes care of himself very well. He obviously has some absorption problems as he eats but is not growing. He is very quite but has a smile that would melt any ones heart. His duty is to helps the babies at meal times the same as Christian.

Rosy: No front teeth but the biggest smile on a 6-7 year old. He looks like a child suffering from Fetal Alcohol syndrome.  He is a quite sweet child who cried when we left.

Lulu: A six year old boy full of energy. It is hard for him to sit through two pages of a story book. Gets frustrated very easily when things did not go his way. Loved to be held and was continually kissing us. Cleans pots after the meals and cools the food for the babies.

Elda: A five year old who was born in prison with no family to go to. HIV negative. A hyper, hyper active, child who is always getting into trouble. She is frequently on punishment which consists of standing at the wall.

Darlenski: A four year old who has to be encouraged to eat. It seems that he needs his HIV medications adjusted. This is being worked on. He is not as active as the others but as cute as a button.

Marisa Rae: Avery serious three year old. The story is that she was thrown out of a car when her mother found out that she was HIV positive. Parents don’t want to keep their sick HIV babies because that means that the mother is infected also. Marisa is very affectionate and was always coming to get a hug.  If I stared into her eyes she would give me the biggest sweetest smile. She loved to eat and looks healthy.

Yvette Connell in HaitiMichael and Mason: The twins, who do not look alike at all. Mama Trisha thinks they have the same eyes but I do not see it. Mason is the stronger of the two and is very protective of Michael. Among the pictures on facebook you can find Mason feeding Michael.

Romeis: Came to the household on earthquake day. Sharp little girl and just has discovered that biting is an easy way to get a toy away from another child.

Mama Trisha is a Mom, a cook, a nurse, a book keeper, a disciplinarian. Can you imagine keeping 13 children’s meds in order? As soon as the children start to eat she is off to the medicine cabinet dishing out meds for all the children and she does this twice a day. She also prepares special drinks for the children at about 3pm.  She is on the computer every day communicating with donors and paying bills. I hope she gets a well deserved rest.

Papa Ray is off before dawn to work on the new house about 20 minutes away. When he is at home he is the cook. He is hoping to move the family into the new building by Christmas time. At the moment things are progressing well, what a wonderful Christmas that would be.

What did Colleen and I do for the week at the Comfort’s? I feel that I did so little as there is so much to do. At 7:30 we got the babies up Colleen was the diaper changer, she caught on fast to their type of diapers. I would then dress them and put their shoes on.  We helped with breakfast than I would take the little ones and read books or tried to keep them entertained. Colleen took the bigger ones and played games and kept them entertained. After lunch when the babies were napping and the dishes were washed I did a bit of school work with the older ones and Colleen cared for the younger ones.  After supper it was bathing time. We did a lot of hugging and just holding children.

What we saw of the earthquake devastation was very little. The buildings at the airport are cracked and crumbling. There are miles and miles of battered tents along the main highway that we took on the way to Verrettes. We did not get into Port of Prince at all. Maybe on our next trip.

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