Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Confusion Abounds

Tuesday is Early Childhood Development day. This week, it was also a day to solve mysteries.

For whatever reason (that I do not understand) lots of people in Haiti have names, nicknames, and other names that they go by - and then their real name might or might not be known and/or used.

It is not uncommon for one person to answer to three names. This is very confusing to the expats who are used to: first name - last name - and only one possible spelling. The spelling of a name changes week to week ... and if I wanted to fully embrace my current culture and fit in I might go by Tara one week, Rachelle another week, spell it Terra sometimes for fun and then another time when asked my name I might just say "T." or maybe Livesay or even some other nickname like "Fifi" and let everyone else figure out what that is all about.

Today a very thin woman walked in. I knew right away that she was not a regular in our program. She was so tall and thin you would not easily forget her. She explained that her friend sent her with her (the friend's) baby because she was too sick to come herself.

We asked the obvious question "who is your friend?"

This is the rest of our conversation:

Tall Girl - Rose Marie Devalier

Me- Rose Marie Devalier? Huh? (not recognized as a name in our program)

Tall Girl - Yes

Me- We have a lady with that last name in pre-natal but her baby is not due for months.

Me- How old is that baby?

Tall Girl- It was born October 1st

Me- What? Okay. What is the Mom's name again?

Tall Girl - Rose Marie

Me- Does she go by any other name?

Tall Girl- I don't know. yes. I think. Maybe.

Me- Okay then - what is the baby's name?

Tall Girl- I don't know. I forget.

Me- You don't know the name of the baby you're caring for? Well, is it a boy or a girl?

(baby is dressed in white and pink frilly clothing)

Tall Girl- long pause ... thinking .. "A little boy"

Paige- So he was born in October?

Tall Girl- No I said he was born in August.

Me- Does the Mom go by the name "Rethly?" (I guessed this because the last name almost matched up right with a Mom named Rethly who had a baby in August.)

Tall Girl- Yes Yes she does.

We weigh the baby. The baby weighs the total wrong weight to be Rethly's baby. If it were her baby it had lost 5 pounds in a couple of weeks.

Me- Still digging through files, taking a wild guess, "Is that baby Judens?"

Tall Girl - (with enthusiasm this time) YES YES --- I FORGOT - YES THAT IS THE NAME OF THE BABY!!

Me- Okay, good ... so, is the mom RoseManie Charles?

Tall Girl- Yes!

(Never mind that the name Charles had never been given.)

At that point we were ten minutes in and searching files frantically trying to figure out who the baby belonged to ... still not exactly sure why the friend gave all goofy information at first ... but it felt like a major victory to identify the baby and figure out who his Mama was. Oh, and the baby was actually born Sept 16 ... details-schmetails.

Basically, the tall girl knew this: She had a baby - in her arms - that someone she is aware of - gave birth to - sometime in the past. What more is there?

We sent the tall girl into class after she told us that the baby was ill and needed to see the Doctor and that she was also pregnant and wanted to join the program. We told her we would see both of them after the lesson.

During class we observed her taking a baby bottle out of her purse for the baby. That was when we also noticed her Bible and her bottle of Barbancourt Rum. Finding that combination of items entertaining, Beth snapped a few photos.

After class John Ackerman saw the baby boy, named Judens, while we did a pregnancy test and made sure that the pregnant mom was not sipping on the Barbancourt. (She said it was not for her, but for a friend.)

If the process of identifying the baby she was caring for was any indicator, I would have to say she'd had a giant glass of rum on her tap-tap ride over.

Case closed.