Sunday, June 04, 2006

Getting to Know a Haitian Family

This blog entry is about the descendents of Dieusina Saincilus, Maternal Grandmother, 70 years old. Our interest in (and concern for) this family began in mid-May... when Dieusina brought her grandaughter, a malnourished 11 month old baby named Sophia, to Lifeline for help.

Photo from the top. (Mountain village called Petit Bwa or Bois) It rained twice last week so things are starting to look less brown.

These kids thought we were hilarious. They especially giggled once we greeted them and asked them how they were and what was happening in Creole. Apparently, that is really funny stuff.

Remember that seven children are still living in Sophia's family. She is number seven. Sophia's mom, Adancile, lived in Petit Bwa her whole life. She had all ten kids there. This is Adancile's oldest child, Alex. Alex is 26 and is photographed with his wife and 10month old baby girl in front of their home. Alex works, a two hour walk from his home, as a teacher. He only returns home on the weekends. Monday morning he walks down the mountain at 5am and Friday he heads back up after school lets out. (See Matt, you are not the only teacher with a miserable commute.) ;)

After we visited with Alex's wife and squeezed his chubby baby for a few minutes, Alex walked us about two blocks (American blocks ... there would be no useful measurement here) to the home where all ten kids had been born, the home where his mother died, five days after Sophia's birth, last June 26.

The girl to the left is 16, her name is Suliette. She seems as unenthusiastic as anyone we have met here. If I were in her shoes I would probably feel the same way. She had to quit school to take care of her 11 year old brother Ruben and her almost 7 year old sister Widelaine. They are photographed in front of their house where they live alone. (Alex behind them.) Suliette does the cooking and laundry and care for her two younger siblings.

We stood in their yard and talked a while. We had a notebook to take notes and remember names and ages. The 20 year old turned out to be a brother, he was not in Petit Bwa when we visited, his name is Smith. The 14 year old lives in St.Aird as a servant, her name is Maude.

We were able to ask a few questions about where they stand with Christ. Alex said they were blessed to be born into a Christian family and they know that Jesus died on a cross for them and to save them from their sins. Christianity here is very well understood by most, living your life to match what you say you believe is the hard part ... but that is the hard part for us Americans too. Here, it is just magnified and more generally the case.

There is a Haitian saying that says "It is not a sin if it gets you by." That is the commonly held belief that needs to be undone here. Many, if not most, Haitians who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ would agree with the aforementioned saying. Haiti lacks discipleship ... what they need more than anything is for someone to come along side them and SHOW them what it means to live day-to-day as a Christian.

While this family's story is heartbreaking to us, there is nothing extraordinary about their situation. It is pretty average in the Haitian experience. Ten kids is a lot, but the average Haitian woman has six. It is common for kids to die of simple things, it is common for mom's to die due to childbirth complications.

I have more photos to share, but blogger stopped loading photos (ANNOYING!) ... I will try again later. In the meantime please keep the Saincilus family in your prayers.