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Communiqué #041


to the PEOPLE of HAITI

July 15, 2007

Another child comes! More questions flow! Such is the case when a new child arrives at the orphanage as happened on Friday, July 13. It was my privilege to escort the mother and her son from the church, down the street to the boys’ orphanage, only a short walk away. The questions instantly start flowing. How is this mother feeling knowing that she is taking this final walk with her son? What is this little 4 ½ year old boy thinking as he walks hand-in-hand with this strange blan (white) lady? Where does he think he is going? Have his parents explained everything to him the night before? As we approach the orphanage and open the gate, the eyes of Jean Winchell stare straight ahead. We enter the courtyard where one sole boy sits near the building. We walk towards him and I introduce Jean Winchell to him as his new friend. We enter the cooking area and find several more boys there, along with the caregivers. They all stand up and stare. Who is this newcomer? Which caregiver will be his? Which bed will be his? Is he a bed wetter? Will he cry tonight? Does he eat a lot? One cannot help to think about what the boys of the orphanage are recalling of their own first night in the orphanage. Jean Winchell is shown which bed will be his. He is given food to eat and a tall glass of cold water to drink. His mama sits down in her son’s new bedroom and discusses matters with the caregiver. No smile appears on Jean Winchell’s face. He sits on the edge of the bed, staring down at the little red truck that he had brought with him from home. The other boys, curious about the truck, politely refrain from asking to play with it, knowing that at this moment Jean Winchell needs it more than they do. As I watch the scene unfold, I start asking myself, “What is an appropriate length of time to allow this mama to spend at the orphanage before she says her final goodbye?” She made the decision easy for me because soon she said it was time for her to go. A short goodbye, with no hugs or kisses, and we left the orphanage campus. On the road back to the church, I give the mother a hug, trying to convey to her that I understand what a big sacrifice she just made for the sake of her child. The mother turns to me. She asks if the older boys will beat up on her son. She asks if he will go to church and how will he get there. I explain to her that the caregivers will be sure that the other boys are good to her son. I explain that all the boys walk together to church, accompanied by a caregiver. They come on Wednesday nights, Friday nights and a morning service and an evening service on Sundays. The mother’s thoughts then turn to the remaining children at home. Would it be possible for us to pay the tuition for her daughter to go to school? She reminds me that she has eight other children at home that she cannot send to school or feed. I explain to her that we will send her son to school, but we are unable to help her other children. What a mixture of emotions she must be feeling right now. Once again, as is the case with so many of the scenarios in this country, I can only imagine the ache in her heart!

Summertime here brings worries of its own. Although the schoolchildren are on vacation and enjoying flying kites or munching on mangos that are plentiful at his time of year or playing with their friends, parents thoughts are already turning to the question, “How am I going to be able to send my children to school?” I have lost count of how many parents have already knocked on my door or stopped me in the streets asking me if I can help pay the tuition for their children for the upcoming school year. Should life have to be filled with so many worries? Every day in Haiti is filled with these types of concerns. It is amazing to me that the people here are still able to find something to smile about! Somehow they find the strength to leave it in God’s hands, a lesson I need to keep learning!

The bulk of my time in Haiti is consumed by three things – helping children who need a home, helping children to attend school and helping children who cannot get the medical treatment needed here in Haiti. You are such an important part of my ministry here in Les Cayes. Your prayers, your encouragement and your financial gifts all help to make the work that I do possible! Thank you for being so prayerful, so faithful!

Nora Léon

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….

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