Monday, July 30, 2012


July 30, 1972

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.

Lydia: Happy Birthday Momma!

Tara: Thanks baby. I am kind of old now.

Lydia: (looking her up and down) Momma, you still look like the same girl. (pausing, thinking...) You can still walk good! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Meet Winifred

Wini and Emmanuel (one of her patients after the earthquake)
Wini helping Jeronie and Walnise labor

Today I want to introduce you to one of our co-workers. She just celebrated her birthday this week which has me thinking about how special she is and all that she's accomplished in her life. 

Winifred (Wini) is one of the gifts we all received from the earthquake.  Before I explain that and how we met, let me back up a bit.

Winifred is one of three daughters born to her mother; she is the oldest of the three girls. Wini grew up just outside of Port au Prince. She loves to learn, worked hard at school and did well.  

Wini has a love for people and an unusual tenderness toward others.  When a woman in her neighborhood died giving birth, Wini adopted the baby. Daphne is a spunky little girl that clearly exhibits the characteristics of a well-loved child. Wini is a great single mom. 

After getting through primary and secondary school Wini started nursing school. She had to save the first two years tuition because they required that she pay for the first half all in one lump sum.  When she excelled in nursing school they were able to see her great potential and offered to help with the second half of her tuition.  

Wini lives with her mother and daughter and carries a heavy responsibility as one of the main providers for her family. 

After the 2010 earthquake Wini wanted to put her nursing skills to work immediately. She lived very nearby but was not aware of Heartline or the programs being offered. One day, as she was passing by the road that two of the Heartline houses are located on, she noticed the large truck with patients being transported and she followed it down the street. She knocked on the gate and offered her help at the field hospital.  In the immediate chaos following the earthquake she was told that it would be a volunteer position to start and that there wasn't time to interview or make job offers.  John and Beth's daughter Morgan, an E.R. nurse herself, quickly noticed Wini's excellence and told her dad that he should do his best to offer Wini a permanent job. Dr. Jen has reiterated time and again what a high-quality nurse Wini is and how much she appreciates working with someone of her caliber. 

When I work with Wini I always learn from her and enjoy watching the way she genuinely loves and cares for people. Wini plays a KEY role in Heartline's Maternity Program and Early Childhood Development Program - she acts as a teacher, a translator, a nurse, a midwife, and more.  Wini is smart, capable, loving, and hard-working. We're all so grateful that we get to work with her. I feel like she extends us a ton of grace when we don't get cultural things and we mess up her language. 

Stories are written about expats and how they are attempting to lift up Haiti  -  that's nice and all - but the fact is - Haitians are doing a ton of great work and it too often goes unnoticed.

All that to say - today I want you all to notice that Wini is working hard and loving people and she is simply amazing at what she does. 

Wini being silly (and intense!) at self-defense class 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

kenbe kè l ' Seyè ~ hold her heart Lord

For the past several months a beautiful young lady has been coming each Thursday to the prenatal program.  Every so often she needs to miss class due to appointments with a counselor. We're normally very strict about attendance but in this case we understand the importance of counseling.  It is so rare for someone in Haiti to have the great benefit and gift of caring for their mental health; we'd never want to stop anyone from seeking that.

A little more than nine months ago her next door neighbor, an adult man with a wife and children, began to force himself on this precious young woman, just a teenager.  When the family of the young woman found out, they had the courage to press the police (in a broken system) to intervene. When the police questioned him, the man took his opportunity to avoid the possible consequences. He left Haiti and fled to another nearby island.  

The family made every effort to love and support their daughter and when they found out she was pregnant they enrolled her in the Heartline Prenatal Program.

A few weeks ago I asked her, "Do you think you'll raise your child, or have you been thinking about adoption?"  The brave young woman looked me directly in the eyes and said, "The baby is not at fault for what he did. I am going to care for this baby."  

"You have a lot of courage." I said. 

"Wi" was her solemn and resolved reply. 

This young woman, just a girl herself, is laboring today.  

Will you pray for her?  

She's about to do something that will require every last ounce of her physical and mental strength and courage. She's about to attempt to love her baby unconditionally in spite of this very unfair and unkind circumstance. She's about to show us all what love looks like. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Strong

The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
-Thomas Carlyle

Photos from the last seven days ... 
LamiGuerline's son, born 7:55pm Thursday night

Quindra, due late this year

six healthy six month olds graduated on Tuesday from EarlyChildhood Dev.
L to R - Yvline, Michlene, Fifi, Stephanie, Alline, Beatrice

Bianca & her Momma Mirlene, graduating from Harbor House

laughs at ECD class on Tuesday

future midwife? Hope holding Lami Guerline's hour old son - he weighed 7lbs even

Olguine delivered on Sunday night
Edline, one of the most extraordinary women we've met, teaches Braille - expecting this fall

Harbor House advancement ceremony 

Thursday Prenatal Class - a room full of expectant mommas

Leoni and Judler 

happy Bianca 

Thank you for supporting the work of Heartline Ministries in Haiti.  Here are some of the lives your dollars and prayers are touching. For more information on our programs please comment here or write livesayfamily @

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: Barber Shop

I'm short on both time and words lately. 
Since Isaac needs a haircut and we've been nagging him to choose whom he wants to cut it; we're remembering and reposting this Troy train-wreck... hope you enjoy it.
Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: Barber Shop: (Written by Troy)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

an adoption reunion story

Tina & Matt in Haiti 
The archives of a seven year old blog are overwhelming to search.  I wish I could link to past posts wherein the multiple stories of how adoption has impacted my family have been told.

Obviously as the adoptive parents of three amazing Haitian sensations we've been immeasurably blessed by adoption. Our open relationship with Isaac and Hope/Phoebe's first families is something we once feared. We've come to cherish those developing relationships. The gift of our adoption has grown exponentially as we have become family with the tenacious women that gave life to our three children.

In the past I know I have written about my little sister Tina and her husband Matt. These are two strong people that Troy and I deeply admire. We had a chance to spend 8 days with them when they visited here earlier this month. It was good to be able to look them in the eyes and tell them how their growth and healing has been a witness to us - how we've seen Jesus in them.

Tina and Matt are unique as the adoptive parents of Annie (adopted from Haiti in 2010) because they have lived the other two roles as well.  The "adoption triad" as it is called in fancy adoption vernacular is totally represented by these two people.  They are the birth/first mother (Tina), the adoptive parent (Tina/Matt), and the (adult) adoptee (Matt).  

They understand the loss of every angle, they undersand the joy of every angle, they understand the pain of every angle, they understand the redemption of every angle. They understand the gift of grace in ways most others cannot. I feel like I am a better momma because of the things they've taught me about adoption.  

As many long time readers know, my niece Whitney was placed for adoption. She was born in between my oldest two girls, Britt (in 90') and Paige (in 94'). Those three births and the situations Tina and I landed ourselves in with the choices we made were all part of a five year period none of us would ever choose to relive.  (Especially not our poor parents.)   God is always reliable to redeem these things and He has done exactly that with all three of our unplanned baby girls.

Everything I have ever written about adoption, I've written with the stories of my own children's adoptions and the individual stories of Matt, Tina, and Whitney on my mind.

I quickly searched and can find one post written in 2006 on the 13th birthday of my niece, Whitney.  Each year we have celebrated the life that Tina carried into this world, the gift of the baby she placed into the loving care of a chosen family, the beauty of the sacrifice Tina made ... And of course each year we also mourned with Tina over what she'd lost.  

Adoption is beautiful and redemptive but those of us anywhere in the middle of the triad know it is not without pain.

For 19 years we prayed faithfully for the amazing family that Whitney became wholly a part of and we prayed for Whitney.  I regularly stood in awe of Tina's strength and grace over the 19 years.  She has always hoped to one day meet Whitney but also lived in the knowledge that that decision wasn't necessarily up to her.  She prayed and hoped and hoped and prayed. As her family that loves her dearly, we all did the same. 

Friday night the most joyful amazing thing took place.  

Tina & Whitney reunited after 19 years 

Troy and I on Skype getting to meet our niece 
(and also we got to watch Paige meet her cousin)

Paige, Whitney, Tina, Proud Grandma Carolyn

Paige, Tina, Grandpa looking on as Whitney and my Mom meet 

Nineteen years is a long time to wait for an answered prayer but I think Tina (and Grandma and Grandpa and cousins and siblings and Aunt Tara) would tell you it was totally worth the wait.

Whitney is a gorgeous, happy, intelligent, joy-filled college student that grew up with a loving Mom and Dad.  She and Tina trust God to help them navigate their future relationship ... Seeing all that He has already done for them makes that a pretty safe plan.

We want to share our joy. We want to share God's faithfulness and Tina's answered prayers. We want to introduce you to our precious niece, Whitney.  :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Honoring the change

An important post for adoptive parents (applies even more to international adoption and older-child adoption) welcome to my brain . net: Honoring the change: On Friday I was camped in a coffee shop for awhile.  This is what was stirring in my head: Yesterday I had the privilege of soaking up...

Friday, July 20, 2012

yo avanse ~ they are advancing

Left to Right:
Fedline/Michlanda ~Sergeline/Jobens ~ Leoni/Judler ~ Alloune/Ashline ~
Mirlene/Bianca ~Joanne/Ricardo ~ Faphane/Rebecca

Today Heartline Ministries had a short ceremony and "send out" party for the seven young women living at the Harbor House.  We all hope and plan to remain in contact and relationship with them as they re-establish themselves in their real world. These seven ladies have already seen so much more in their short lives than most of us can even imagine.  

Today they stand together as young mothers that have made a decision to love and raise their children. They have more conquering and healing and growing to do  - but they are advancing in that day by day and bit by bit. 

We so want to honor them and their accomplishments and also speak (write) honestly about the struggles.  Each young woman comes with her own important story to tell. Each young woman has overcome in one way or another. We admit that in our own poverty we have not always been as patient with them as we would have liked. We hope to share more about their lives, more about today and about their future plans, but right now we feel the heavy weight of the importance of God's love and guidance in their lives so we're simply praying this...

We thank you for your love for all. We thank you that the hurts of these young women are your hurts too. We thank you that you've not abandoned them or forgotten them.  Lord we struggle with the hard things they've faced in their short lives and we struggle with injustice. We thank you that you are not a God that looks away or leaves us to face hardship alone. We wait impatiently Lord for your Kingdom to come and for all wrongs to be made right.  In the meantime Lord, we pray for your Hand of protection on these seven young women and their seven precious little ones.  We pray they continue to love their little ones and daily be freed from the chains that attempt to tie them to their past. We pray God that no harm would come to them. We pray Lord that you will draw them close to you and that in drawing close to you they will find comfort, peace, joy, and an unconditional love like  We pray Lord that you show us how to support and love them in healthy ways as they make this huge transition. We ask that you provide for their needs. We pray that they look to You as their only true source of hope.  Amen. 

**Thank you to the staff at the Harbor House. Thank you to all members of the larger body that have supported this adventure in the last 18 months. Heartline Ministries wants to thank those that have loved and invested in these women.  The list is long and we probably have no idea how many of you have been praying and giving. We'll be spending about six weeks in prayer and planning before we determine how to move forward. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Today's photo: An ode to Orthodontia  - a privilege of the rich  ...  A first world privilege available to us; even in this not-so-first-world. 

All of us typing and reading this are "the rich", are we not?

I remember a Haitian friend from a mountain village marveling that Americans have doctors for their dogs  -  he just kept repeating it over and over again, "Dogs go to the doctor. DOGS!!"  I couldn't defend us. It's true, we're so rich we are able to buy our dogs longer lives.

Here in Haiti, that's not a thing.

As you can see, there is some room for improvement in that ^ there mouth. We're about to embark upon the next round of orthodontic work in our family. Three more children are ready to be assessed and then possibly wired and adjusted depending on what the expert tells us. 

I feel a little bit about this (orthodontics) like my Haitian friend feels about dog doctors.   It is kind of hard to reconcile using real money to make these teeth straight; when all around me people don't have access to sufficient clean water or electricity or basic healthcare that meets the needs of the majority of the population. In fact, many times a year someone tells me about their toothache and that the cost for extracting the tooth is too steep for them to cover. 

straight teeth vs clean water
straight teeth vs access to healthcare
straight teeth vs ability to eat dinner every night

I am glad it makes me uncomfortable. I am glad it feels obnoxious, because it is. I don't want to get to a place where these vast disparities don't bother me. They SHOULD bother me. It NEEDS to bother us that we can easily send our dogs to the doctor and we can straighten our teeth and some of us can even fix our wrinkles and give ourselves a facelift .... Meanwhile all around the world there is a struggle going on that the likes of us and our straight teeth cannot.possibly.comprehend.

We should try to comprehend -
Especially if we claim to follow Jesus.
We need to be uncomfortable with what we see.

Britt and Paige have already been given the gift of straight teeth. My Mom and Dad gave me this gift many moons ago. We value straight teeth in this family, generations have handed down this value.  

My wish today is that in addition to our desire to have straight teeth we also have a desire to be "champions of equality" to whatever degree we have the power and ability to be that.
I believe that followers of Jesus are to be champions of equality, and that it is our calling, as imitators of Christ, to reflect God’s new vision for the world, initiated through Jesus Christ, in which there is no hierarchy or power struggle between slave and free, Jew and Greek, male and female, for all are one in the family of God. -Rachel Held Evans
Here is to straight teeth and total discomfort with the injustice of this world.  Let's all do something generous today for those that cannot fathom spending money on dog doctors or straight teeth.

I want justice to be so pervasive that it will be taken for granted, just as injustice is taken for granted today. 
-Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

head space

The last few months have both Troy and I trapped in our heads a bit.  We can sit and talk to one another at the end of the day and not measure or weigh our words with one another, but trying to write in this public space about some of the recent confusion and struggles feels daunting. That is why there have not been very many words of substance printed here lately.

Hopefully at some point the word block will end and the words will be released like doves from their prison inside my head.

I intentionally ran a bunch of miles in June and then got too busy to run much in the first half of July.  That always changes how I cope and how I process and find my peace with whatever is troubling me.

I ran twice recently and found myself processing things more effectively as a result of just a couple of short neighborhood runs. Hopefully now that things might slow down a bit and there will be time to log some miles - the discouragement we've been flirting with will quickly separate itself into neat little categories that we can reconcile easily somehow.

Unfortunately Isaac, Noah, and I waited too long to start our run today. The little men and I could only pull off a couple miles in the beating hot noon sun. Our conversations took us from machetes to "kissing that one sick way where you twist your tongues together" and then back to machetes. 

We covered much more distance in our conversations than with our feet today.  

The good news is this:  Tomorrow is new day to run, and to reason, and to listen, and to pray.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Short Documentary

Marathoning for Mamba from mk smith on Vimeo.

This video shows the city and the countryside of Haiti so well; two very different parts of the country.

[See THIS blog post for MK's full explanation of this (her Master's degree) project and how it came about originally.]

MK came to shoot this story on Tara and RHFH in late 2009, shortly before the earthquake. It was done to promote Real Hope for Haiti and their awesome program that helps malnourished children in the mountains of Haiti. It focuses on a peanut butter product called Medika Mamba that is being produced in the northern part of Haiti.

Her resume:

M.K. Smith is an award-winning multimedia photographer and producer. Trained in non-linear editing and photojournalism she has an equal love for shooting and editing stories. Freelance clients include Runner’s World, Star Tribune, Northwestern College and Dream Reality Films, in various roles of Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor. 

M.K.‘s work can be seen on her website, , and be contacted at Available for freelance work and seeking collaborative humanitarian filmmaking and journalism opportunities. M.K. has a Master of Arts in Visual Communication from Ohio University, lives in Minneapolis, MN, and hopes to one day be a proud dog owner. 

MK is finished with her education and is seeking employment.  If you are able to share this piece and have connections to pass along to MK please do so. We are thankful for her talent, heart, and friendship - and know that she would be a blessing to anyone fortunate enough to work with her.


Monday, July 16, 2012

9 pics from last 9 days

sometimes one lounging chair just isn't sufficient ~ the pinnacle of relaxation

MN lard-friends visiting  
Tess & kids

Family from MN visiting us!!!! 

Mike Healy teaching self defense at Heartline
Port au Prince Fellowship, Hope singing with Troy
Walnise doing well
Kick-Ball Championship Tournament July 2012 with Matt & Tina & Aidan Cleary

Holy cow the last six weeks have been insane.  Thank you to that stopped in to encourage and love on us and give us strawberries and bacon. (all 21 of you!) We're able to be here because you help us be here.  Thank you for that. 

This morning the third birth of July took place at Heartline Ministries. We're anxious to welcome some more new little ones into the world this month. The guys are looking toward the future as the Men's Bakery Program continues to be developed. The Harbor House gals graduate and transition into the next phase of their lives late this week. We'll be praying about the next group of residents at Harbor House and would appreciate if you'd join us in that. 

Random Haitian Proverb of the day: "Kote y’ap plimen kòdenn, poul pa ri.Where they pluck turkeys, chickens do not laugh.

new life

Elienne is an adorable, coy, 29 year old woman. She has been coming to Prenatal program faithfully for many months. She missed only one Thursday in all of her months of pregnancy.

Elienne had an amazingly normal and uneventful pregnancy.

Sunday morning around 8am her water broke. She labored throughout the day Sunday and into Monday morning.  This morning right around 8am she welcomed her first-born into the world. He is 7 pounds even, 100% perfect, and is a champion breast-feeder already.  We're grateful to share their joy and thankful for the way your support and prayers help make our programs possible.

Mesi Jezi pou tout bagay ou te fe, e' ou pral fe. Thank you Jesus for everything you did and will do. Amen.

Haiti medical relief: GIving blood in Haiti

Written by Dr. Jen:
Haiti medical relief: GIving blood in Haiti:

(please read link for great way to tangibly help here)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cross-Posting Dr. Carroll

Below is an article written by one my personal heroes. I have followed his work and his opinions and thoughts for the entire six and a half years I've lived in Haiti and I always respect what he says and how he cares for Haiti and her people.  

When we have a chance to visit the homes of the women we serve after their babies come, we always, always leave humbled.  
Dr. John shares about his most recent house visit here
Jean-Ronel and Manaika
(Photo by John Carroll, MD--July 14, 2012)

Many years ago while working in a free clinic in Peoria, I came to realize how a house call could teach much more about a patient than seeing the patient in the office. Office visits are artificial and don’t tell you near as much about the patient.

I remember visiting a 90 year old patient of mine in Peoria who weighed 350 pounds. During my visit she showed me where a raccoon fell through the ceiling of her closet in her bedroom and then was shot dead by a family member. I also noticed how far away her medication was kept from her and how dificult it was for her to access it. Her handicapped son George, replete with tuxedo, sang beautiful songs, but didn’t help much with his mom's health care. I couldn’t have learned this information with a simple office visit.

Yesterday in clinic in Soleil a father brought his three year old daughter to clinic. It is not often that fathers bring their children to pediatric clinic in Haiti. He seemed to be a very caring father. The little girl had orange hair, a congested cough, and impetigo on her arms.

They seemed to be quite poor--I would say close to the bottom of Haiti’s poor class.

The father’s name is Jean-Ronel and his daughter is Manaika.

I asked the father where Manaika’s mother was. Frequently when the father brings the child to the doctor the mother is selling goods on the street, has sick kids at home, just had a baby, or is sick herself.  However, Jean-Ronel told me that his wife had died suddenly on December 17, 2010. He told me that she had died due to a spell cast by the houngan.

I treated Manaika yesterday with medication for impetigo and institued empiric treatment for worms and iron deficiency. However, I wanted to see Jean-Ronel’s and Manaika’s living conditions and I wanted to talk to him more about their lives.  

I needed to make a Haitian house call. 

I got Jean-Ronel’s cell phone number before he left and told him I would call him today to arrange a visit to his house and talk to him about his life. He agreed.

So today I met Jean-Ronel on a street corner here in Sarthe, a huge northern section of Port-au-Prince. 
It was a typical Saturday morning in Port-au-Prince. Temperature in the sun today had to be about 100 F. We inched slowly in traffic about four miles north along very congested Route National 1 to Jean-Ronel's neighborhood called Lizon.

Forty-five minutes later we arrived at the place Jean-Ronel calls home. The front door to the very unfinished cinderblock house was a piece of plywood that Jean-Rinol removed to let us enter the house. Looking to the north one can see mountains in the distance.

Jean-Ronel’s brother Nazair, the owner of the house, proudly showed me each room. He named the rooms as the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, etc. This all seemed normal conversation except all the rooms were empty and most had no roof. Nazair told me that he had been building this house for 10 years now assembling it block by block. Cement is not cheap in Haiti. Nazair lives here with his wife Vela, their three children, Jean-Ronel and Manaika.

So after the brief house tour, I sat down in a plastic white chair in a roofless hall and listened while Jean-Ronel spoke.
Jean-Ronel is 31 years old and very thin. He wears a baseball cap.

He was born and raised in Mirebalais, a village just 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince over the mountains in the distance.  He completed 10 years of education but had no money to finish his secondary school.  And because he had Nazair and his wife Vela here in Lizon he decided to move here a few years before the earthquake. There just were not any opportunites for him in Mirebalais.

Jean-Ronel says that he can read and write some. He said he has been to southern Haiti only once and has never been north. Mirebalais and Port-au-Prince are almost all he knows.

After arriving in Port-au-Prince he and his wife produced Manaika in 2008. His wife was about 15 years older than Jean-Ronel.

The earthquake occured on January 12, 2010 and the three of them were living in a rented house. And it was not damaged in the quake and none of them were hurt. So they stayed there.

I asked Jean-Ronel what happened to his wife.  He told me that she had an argument with a woman in December 2010. Some bad words were exchanged. Jean-Ronel left the house one day shortly after the argument to run some errands on the streets.  When he arrived back at the house later in the day his wife was gone. His wife's family told them that she laid down during the day and died. Her family insisted that she died because an illness was sent to her by the houngan because of her argument with the lady a few days before. And they had already transported her body to the morgue.

I asked Jean-Ronel if he believed in the houngan and he said no that he did not but his wife’s family did. I asked Jean-Ronel what religion he is and he said Catholic. But when I asked him what church he goes to he said the “The Church of God” locally in Lizon. I told him that was not a Catholic church. He looked surprised and just shrugged. He also volunteered that he has never been baptized.

So after his wife’s death, he and baby Manaika, unable to pay rent any longer, moved to a tent city in Sarthe, and stayed there for four months. But the living conditions in the tent were so bad that Nazair accepted them into his house in Lizon which is where they remain today.

Jean-Ronel and Manaika sleep on a mat on the floor of the bathroom which is just an empty room with a rocky uneven floor and a blue tarp for a roof.

I asked Jean-Ronel if he had ever heard of cholera. He said yes he had heard of it on the radio but did not know what it was. Incredibly, after almost two years of cholera ravaging Haiti, Jean-Ronel didn’t know what cholera was.

I explained to him that cholera is an illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea.  I asked Jean-Ronel where he would take his daughter if she got ill from cholera and he shook his head and said he did not know where to take her. However, Vela, his sister in law who was listening to our conversation, commented that cholera causes diarrhea, vomiting and death and she would take any ill family member to Foyer St. Camille if they became ill. (This is a hospital set up by an Italian order of Catholic priests and nuns several miles from their house in Lizon. It no longer has an active Cholera Treatment Unit, but Vela does not know that.)

When I asked Jean-Ronel where they get their drinking water, he replied that they buy it from a truck which has treated water inside it. But I saw no cistern to store the water.  I saw no Culligan water bottles. And so I asked them again where they get their drinking water and Vela pointed down the road. She said they get it from a hand pump which pumps up water from the water table (anba woch).  Vela said that they purify that water only when they have AquaTabs which she buys at the boutique. And this depends on whether she has a few extra cents for the AquaTabs.

I asked Jean-Ronel how often the family eats and he said twice each day. But Vela overruled him again and said that they only eat once a day. And that is rice covered with red bean sauce. No eggs, meat, milk for anyone.

I asked Jean-Ronel if he was happy with his life. He said yes right away because he still has “souf”. ..which means he is still breathing.

I asked him what he wishes for. He said he wishes for a job and that his Manaika is cleared of her illness.

I asked him if he knows the population size of Haiti. He said he had no idea. I asked him to try and guess and he said that he couldn’t.

I asked Jean-Ronel what he thought of President Martelly. He answered that he is a good president. I asked him why and he said that President Martelly is putting kids in school around Haiti.  

Many Haitians have strong ideas regarding US politics and our president. Over the years President Clinton was well liked and President George W. Bush was not so well liked by Haitians in my very informal surveys.  

When I asked Jean-Ronel what he thought of President Obama he said that he does not know because he (Jean-Ronel) “does not live in Miami”. (Poor Haitians refer to the entire United States as “Miami”.)

I asked Jean-Ronel what he thought of me. He said that I was “not a bad person”.

I asked Jean-Ronel what he thought of MINUSTAH. He said they were good because they enforced security in Haiti. (I don’t think he knows that MINUSTAH costs 2 million dollars each day to have them here occupying Haiti. But I doubt that fact would change his mind at all. Big sums of money mean absolutely nothing to dirt poor Haitians who have only a couple of cents in their pocket.)

When I asked Jean-Ronel if he had any questions for me, he asked me what would my questions and photos do to solve his own problems. I told him "probably nothing" but this information could make people aware of Haitian problems like his and maybe it could help Haitians “collectively” in the future.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

Lets face it, Haiti is a broken place. The situation here is inhumane, terrible, outrageous, unthinkable, and embarrassing. ( I worked last week with an American dentist who described her experience here as embarrassing....she meant that her Haitian patients’ teeth were so bad, she was having a very difficult time extracting them. And it was embarrasing for her to exctact teeth rather than restore them.)

In my opinion Jean-Ronel has no good chance at having a better life at least by our Western definition. He lacks the basics to survive with any dignity.

His daughter Manaika has a chance if the system could be fashioned to work for her over the next twenty years. She doesn’t need an i-Phone, an i-Pad, or an i-Pod. She needs i-Basics. She needs security, clean water, nutritious food, a good education, and a chance at a good job when she is 23 years old. Manaika does not need to be in an orphanage. She needs to be with her father and her cousins in Lizon. And she needs to be hugged.

Would Jean-Ronel and Manaika survive a bad case of cholera today if left to their own devices? Probably not unless his sister-in-law Vela intevened quickly. And right now she made it clear that she would take them to the wrong place for hydration. Thus, education has to occur from the ground up if we really want to help Jean-Ronel, Manaika, and their extended family.

So can Haiti change?

I don’t understand words and phrases like "neoliberal economic policies" or "globalization" very well.  But I do understand what Jesus said. He said to take care of the poor. And if all the emphasis in Haiti with the billions of dollars that was pledged to Haiti since the earthquake was focused on the poor, everyone's life in Haiti would improve...even the 1% of the people who own 50% of Haiti’s wealth. Jesus would have been a good economist.

The poor Haitian community, about 10 million of them, need to be put first. And alleviating Haiti's misery could begin. The poor should be our preference.

House calls can be sobering events. One may hear stories of fallen raccoons or even worse.  But house calls can teach much about people we care for and want to help.

John A. Carroll, MD

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7 Healthy Graduates

Graduating from Early Childhood Development Program today ... (babies have passed the six month mark)

Mommas Left to Right: Igemene, Djennie, Kerline, Marjorie, Samide, Dieumatha, Lovely & Agathe (teacher) in pink on the far right

(All baby boys graduating today except for Kerline. She has the only baby girl in this group of graduates.)

Monday, July 09, 2012

Jesus is here, difficult

Jesula D.
Meet Jesula Difficile. She is 31 and has one five year old. She has also lost two children during pregnancy. She's currently expecting again. 

Her life is filled with challenges we cannot even begin to imagine. She lives close to the edge. 

In spite of that she carries herself with dignity and courage. She experiences joy in the midst of her struggles. Her story is just one of many women in Haiti that bear incredibly heavy loads.

Recent stories told in daily interaction and relationship:

  • A pregnant woman is being abused by her husband. She has no one to go live with and she understands that reporting him won't accomplish anything that will result in improvements in her life.
  • A family of eight informs us that it is a 'non-dinner night'. They eat dinner every other night. On Friday at four p.m. they know that their next meal will be Saturday night. They're not fasting on purpose, they're fasting because their family budget allows for meals to be made and consumed approximately every-other day.  
  • A newborn baby comes down with a high fever and no hospital with room can be found to admit the baby.
It has been a few months since Jesula joined the Prenatal program.  From the day I wrote her name on her file it has become a regular part of our vernacular.  Jesula translates: "Jesus is here".  Difficile (difisil) translates: "difficult".

When Troy and I have our nightly debriefing and discuss the joys and sorrows from the day we tend to go round and round and round. Sometimes the best way to sum it all up is to simply add in one quick statement.  "Jesula Difficile, wi?" 

Jesus is here. 

We see that. 

Life is difficult. 

We see that. 

Pray for Haiti. 
Pray for the justice of Jesus to come quickly.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Saturday Stuff

Anicia with her new son, her friend that helped her deliver, and Beth

Anicia and her husband with their fourth child 

Anicia called to tell Beth she gave birth at home earlier this morning. Beth and I made a visit to see how things were looking. Anicia said she delivered about 30 minutes after the contractions started and that she could tell the head was there so she didn't try to get the four miles to the Maternity Center. Her friend helped her with the delivery and everything appears to be great for Anicia and her little guy. Anicia and her husband now have three boys and one daughter and they tell us their family is complete. :) We're thankful all is well. 

We had a very fun (double) date night last night in Petionville.  We went to a great place with live music and had a blast.

Sunday Tina and Matt and Aidan leave. (sad) Our friends the Ericksons come for a night early next week and then Tara's Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and second cousin all arrive mid week for a five day visit.  (happy)

2012 has been the year of visitors (2006 was the last time we had so many people come see us).  We're touched that our families spent money and gave up vacation time to come be with us here. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Link to Isaac's post about making friends and the challenges with that. 

What is a Third Culture Kid?
“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
TCK Paige still having zero fun in Cali ....

Thursday, July 05, 2012

happily occupied

Working Talking Guitar Talking Swimming Talking Hiking Talking Working Talking Eating Talking Kick-Ball Talking ...

Between regular stuff and having our family here we're very happily occupied.

Tina with Noah, Aidan, Isaac, Kevin
WorldCup KickBall 2012
Concert in Central Park Do-Over

Troy's love of all things Simon and Garfunkel is well documented and proven. The other night Matt and Troy channeled the 1968 version (you know, seven years before their births) of S & G and then pretty much played every song ever written and recorded between 1965 and 1972 over the period of the next many hours.  

The days are full, the evenings have been silly and entertaining.  
We've only got a few days left, we're making the most of every minute. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

of cousins & new babies

L to R: Phoebe, Lydia, Noah, Hope, Aidan, Isaac at Wahoo Bay

After the all day Saturday and Sunday dueling labors and deliveries, we headed to the beach to be total lards on Monday.  The day was lovely and restful. Isaac had someone ask him if he was Isaac of "Ask Isaac" ? - he was totally incredulous to have a real live person tell him they read what he writes. :) 

  • Jeronie gave birth to a 6 pound 10 ounce baby girl at 5pm Saturday. Everything went well with her delivery.
  • Sunday at hour 33 of Walnise's labor it was determined that something was preventing her from dialating to 10cm (she stalled at 9cm for 9 hours) and we had to make the sad/hard decision to transport her for a C/Section. Walnise made us teary with her short speech telling us that we were all very patient and that it was not our fault and it was not her fault and that we all did what we could.  
  • Jeronie went home late day Sunday.
  • Monday Jeronie's baby quickly became very ill with a high fever.  Beth, Wini and a visiting nurse (Lise) got the baby on an IV and eventually they were able to get Medishare (Bernard Mevs Hospital) to accept the baby (after two strike outs at other hospitals). We're grateful Medishare is caring of Jeronie's baby girl.
  • Walnise was released from the hospital around noon today. She had a baby boy via C-Section Sunday night. She told us that the hospital also tried using Pitocin and she could not advance to 10 cm.  (thus the c-sec) Her son is beautiful and is 6lbs 14 ounces, he is yet to be named. 
Jeronie & Grandma and new baby girl

Walnise, Joseph and their new son

Please hold these moms and their new little ones in your prayers in the coming days and weeks. It is quite humbling to see the homes they return to with their precious, tiny newborns.  These are incredibly brave & strong women. We pray God provides and protects in miraculous ways.