sábado, 25 de julio de 2015

Funny Stuff

Today some volunteers planned to come to the school to help paint. We expected them at 4 so I got there at 3 with some helpers. Jameson, Sony, and Jempsley came with me, and then Makenson saw we were working and came to join us as well. Oh, and Ilayas came too. The volunteers ended up not making it, but we got a lot done and then went and got pizza at a food court at a Sunix gas station. They didn't make too much of a mess except for Jempsley. He got desks and floors pretty dirty and I got on him about painting the corner blue of an intersection of a blue and white wall.. putting blue on a white wall, and then he did it again on a second well. So we still have some touch ups to do now but the school is pretty much ready for the new school year! Read here about all of the rennovation work we have done this year, as well as fundraising throughout the course of the past year. 

The funny stuff mainly happened when we went out for pizza afterwards. It was karaoke night and the only available table was right by the mic. They were a little sheepish to go in as it was all Dominicans but we made our way to the table and sat down. Karaoke was to start any time but in the meantime, Dominican music was blasting. Either merengue or bachata, I honestly don't know which is which, which I know is sad. Every other table was full of adults mainly dressed up and drinking beer. I sat down with a group of teenagers and kids covered in paint and we ordered water and pizza. A few minutes after we sat down, people realized it was time to dance. They started getting out of their chairs and pairing off to dance in the skinny walkway between the plastic tables. They know their stuff. Step, twist, step, twist. Move their hips back and forth while taking their baby steps to the music, etc. 

One man probably in his sixties had jean shorts on, a red t-shirt, and a straw hat. He got up to go through the aisle alone (everyone else had a partner) and flat out got down. Jempsley pointed him out and we giggled, although we couldn't hear each other over the super loud music. One song ended, they stopped the music for a second to announce which cars needed to be moved as they were blocking others in, and then started it back up. Our pizza came pretty quickly since we were the only ones ordering food. We each ate our first piece, then our second. There was an extra second piece. I inquired and learned that Jempsley didn't want a second. Strange, I thought.  

As we finished, I squeezed past the dancing people and went to pay at the counter. There were three employees behind the counter. They wore white polo shirts with the name of the business on it. One shook from side to side to the beat of the music as she gave me the bill, took the money, and gave me change. The other two were male and female and they danced just like the couples in the walkways did but from behind the counter, holding each other close, moving their hips, and smiling at me as I paid the check. I found the whole scene to be so funny and adorable. 

We got a take home box to bring the last two pieces to Maraya and Yenilove and went out to the car. The boys got to the car before Ilayas and I. We arrived to find them cracking up. I thought they must've been letting lose about the older guy who was enjoying himself so much. But for the whole car ride home, they continued to laugh about another subject. When they got to the car, Jempsley had said, "Ti fil yo te kenbe nan goj mwen", which means, "The little strings got stuck in my throat". He was talking about the cheese. This is why he had only eaten one piece. After having heard the line repeated about 20 times, I asked him if he had eaten pizza before today. The others howled with laughter. He replied that he had not. They talked about saving up their money to come eat another pizza together. 

Jempsley, Sony, Ilayas, Jameson, Makenson - star painters!

martes, 23 de junio de 2015

Confused, Sad, Relieved, Hopeful

So I guess I had not even written yet that CURE International agreed to do the surgery for Elisenia for free, and they even have funds to support her first prosthetic. The surgery I am talking about is an amputation because she was born without a tibia in one leg.

Adeline went with Elisenia the first time for the surgery. They understood that she has chronic respiratory problems and said they would allow her to stay and be treated for that for a few days before surgery, as she cannot go under anesthesia with any sort of a cough. They did let her stay for a few days, sent her to a pulmonologist, but when they saw that the treatment would last more than a week, sent her back home. 

As the treatment was going on, the secretary contacted us and told us her next surgery date. This trip was a bit frustrating/had some miscommunication as I tried to tell the secretary that her treatment was not done and to confirm that she would be treated there if she had a cough still. Although I was confirmed, they sent her back the same day she arrived for a small cough. 

Well one good thing about that second trip is that Adeline retrieved a perscription from the pulmonologist that she had not come with before and those meds made her stop coughing completely! It was like we had found the magic solution. They told us to send her yesterday morning and we did, sure that this time the surgery would take place. Dr. Glen Rowe has been wonderful in communicating and has really taken the case on. He wrote to me last night to let me know that she looked good and would be operated on this morning (Tuesday). 

Around 7am this morning I got a phone call from Glen who told me that Elisenia's HIV test had come back positive. What!!?? Read here and here where I was medically assured that she was negative, despite the fact that her bio mom is positive. Before I could feel sorry for Elisenia or be frustrated about a third trip to the capital and still no amputation, my heart sank for Adeline, Elisenia's caregiver, and her family, who I knew would be shocked and scared at the news, since they have lived so closely with Elisenia for years now. Glen said that the main reason they could not operate is because Elisenia's white blood cell count was very high.. 1600 or 16000? She was fighting off infection but they didn't know where. She may not heal well if they did the surgery.

Wait, let me back up. We finally got Elisenia's birth certificate last Wednesday!!! It was a bit of a painful day where Zette had to be there and she complained the whole day. It was the first time she had seen Elisenia since she left 3.5 years ago. You would think she would be happy to spend some time with her but instead she complained and apparently spoke negatively about me the whole day. I was up urging things to move along which is why I didn't hear all of what she was saying, but did get my earful of complaints. This was the first time Adeline had met Zette. We took Elisenia to see her one evening in Munoz which I had planned with Zette about and she found something else that was more important that evening and was not there... so this was the first she had seen Elisenia since her return. Yenilove was there too and her birth certificate is in process. But it was a hard day for Yenilove. she reported lots of negativity that was said, and Adeline and I had a heart to heart too after it all. I don't think I wrote in this blog about the years of trouble it has been getting these kids' birth certificates and Elisenia's is the first of 5 to have come through.

Back to today. I asked Glen about Adeline and he said that he hadn't told her yet because he wanted to tell me first. I told him that I should probably call and tell her and he said that would be good. We were rushing out the door to teachers meetings and a construction project in the Padre Granero school, so I planned on calling her in the car. Oh, I got a little 1987 Toyota Camry which is great! Anyway, as I went out to the car, Adeline's partner Ose was at our door looking... the worst I had ever seen him. He simply said, "Adeline says for you to call her." I starting splurring explanations to him as I realized that they must already know. He looked stern and angry but lightened up as I got around to explaining to him what white blood cells are. 

I stepped in the car and the phone rang. It was Adeline. She was crying. We both expressed our confusion as her test had come back negative before. She said that she couldn't care for Elisenia anymore. She cried and talked and I told her that I would ask the doctor to do an HIV test with her and I would go with the rest of her family to do it as well so that they could be able to have peace. She seemed to like that idea and passed me to Glen. Glen said, "I didn't tell her. Someone else must have told her." 

I said, "She said she saw it on a paper."

He said, "Nothing was written on the paper. Someone must have told her." 

Just a few hours ago when Adeline arrived and we sat and talked, she gave me a great account with perfect pauses of, "They put the IV in Elisenia and the operation clothes and then I saw blan receive a paper and did (surprised/confused look). I knew something was going on. I'm not stupid. Then they told me to put her clothes on her and gave me this paper." She pulled out a perscription for more blood tests. Two boxes were checked, one which says HIV. All of the nurses were coming and talking amongst each other and looking at them. A Dominican doctor finally sat down with her and asked if she was Elisenia's mom. She said no, she is more than a mom. He asked about her mom and she told him to contact me. He told her what the results said. Her suspicions were confirmed. She said she stood on one foot and cried and prayed. They calmed her and explained to her the misconceptions and how the disease is and isn't transmitted... 

I will write the rest of what happened soon, but to kill the suspense, Adeline's test came out negative. Her kids, niece, and Yenilove's second test (I tested her the same time when Elisenia came out negative 2 years ago) all came out negative as well. They kill you with suspense at the Ceprosh office... which we walked a few blocks to and then to and from the laboratory with Aniverca who is 12 years old and has cerebral palsy, so she needs lots of assistance. I explained to the lab that there was a potential false negative test result given by them two years ago. Their response was that it must've been during the incubation phase. I didn't argue, but how would a child born with HIV have the virus in incubation stage at 2.5 years of age? 

I wanted to grab the papers away from the guy who opened each paper slowly and wrote out each patient's information before sharing the darn result! He asked me, "Why are you afraid?" As soon as he said that, my head filled with verses of "Do not fear" and the peace that transcends all understanding calmed me instantaneously. When they read Yenilove's result, tears came rushing to my eyes and I fought them off, which took a lot. I used to cry a good bit here due to sad and frustrating stuff and people observing quickly say, "Don't cry. Don't cry." I don't know if it's because I'm older or my heart is harder or stronger but I am much more able to hold back tears now. The guy ended by talking about both oral and anal sex in front of Yenilove, my eight year old, who looked at me at the end of the talk and said, "kapot"? which means condom. This allowed us all to release our bursts of laughter which was building up throughout the talk.

Driving home, relieved for everyone's good news, I was now able to feel for Elisenia. Maybe I did let a tear fall for her. After our talk tonight, Adeline says that she still wants to care for Elisenia (although she wants separate plates and cups for her) and is not convinced yet that she is actually positive. I am joining her in her faith. Please help us pray.


For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 
-Ephesians 6:12

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

-2 Chronicles 20:15

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. - Genesis 26:24

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  - Deuteronomy 1:21


Don't forget, if you want to support me and my work, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. If you want to use this method for gaining your own personal support to enable you to do similar work or to just supplement your family income, please e-mail me at CaitlinMcHale@EsperanzaMeansHope.org. Don't forget to read this book as well, and recommend it to others! If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

sábado, 13 de junio de 2015

Dominican Parenting 101



If you want to keep your 15 year old son from becoming a delinquent, don’t let him lie in bed late into the morning. Get him up early every morning, even if he doesn’t have school. If he doesn’t want to get up, take a large metal spoon used to stir rice and scrape the konkon off of the bottom of the pot. Tap the round bottom firmly on the sleeping boy’s ankles, shins, and knees. This should awake him. If he returns to sleep, repeat. Or, fill up the watering can and go outside the house by the window next to his bed. Open the window and water in the window, sprinkling the sleeping boy on the bed. This, in addition to the spoon, should do the trick and get him out of bed for the morning.

Junior is turning 16 tomorrow. He passed his 8th grade year, as far as the in school portion is concerned. They say he didn’t seem to try and put his head down on the desk a lot. He got 70s and 80s. After 8th grade they have a national exam here. If you don’t pass, you don’t go onto high school. He has been reluctantly going to a clinic for this since March. It starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday. The biggest success of this school year for him as compared to last year is his 92.5% attendance. And at the school he goes to, they send him home if he is 5 minutes late, if he isn’t wearing socks, and little things like that. It is good for him, like military school, as he needs a strong hand, but frustrating a little as well. But the point is, last year we had to really struggle with him to get him to go to school, and this year, he only missed a few days, and they were almost all days where he went to school but was sent home due to one of these regulations. I call that a success!

However, we have one problem. He has started wanting to wander around a lot more to visit other communities and has been breaking the 10 P.M. curfew. This is largely why I started with the spoon tapping and watering can watering. We have tried several different punishments and he still keeps it up. Well, he had almost stopped and then last week someone led him out and so I got very angry at that person.  This July, I hope to send him, Yenilove, and two other boys to a week-long camp at a cacao plantation we visited. I’m hoping they make it through the week without me getting a phone call that one or all of them are insupportable!
Jameson and Junior with cacao facials at the farm.

Yenilove is doing great. She, Ilayas, and Maraya are three loving, playing, competing siblings. Elisenia has a free surgery and then free prosthetic waiting for her at CURE International in Santo Domingo if we can ever get her to stop coughing long enough for their anesthesiologist to agree to administer the anesthesia. We have made two trips so far and been sent back both times. We are trying a new med and are preparing for the third trip.

I have been spending a lot of time in the regularization office, as well organizing trips to PIDIH in Santo Domingo. Deportations are supposed to start Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Please keep us in your prayers. We are all a bit in the dark as to how these times will be for everyone, but I have led everyone I can to get registered and get their paperwork in order.

Thank you and God bless. 

Don't forget, if you want to support me and my work, please consider using this credit card or these awesome gift options. Sign up as a customer here. If you want to use this method for gaining your own personal support to enable you to do similar work or to just supplement your family income, please e-mail me at CaitlinMcHale@EsperanzaMeansHope.org. Don't forget to read this book as well, and recommend it to others! If you want to support Project Esperanza, learn how to do so here. Thank you and God bless! 

jueves, 22 de enero de 2015

Emaz

Facebook photo: 




And caption: I have always found this photo to be the most beautiful product of Krystle Marcelus' photo journalist class she did years ago. Emaz was pregnant in this photo and now has 3 boys. Unfortunately, her husband just passed away after weeks in the hospital. He fell off of a third story building while working construction and the family has found no help from his employer. I am hoping we can sell some prints to help Emaz and family out. Please comment if you are interested in helping with that.

New info: We raised a few hundred pesos at the event where we put up this photo in Cabarete on December 12th. I visited Emaz a week or two later and paid her landlord one month rent, which is 1,500. I also gave her 100 pesos to help her make food. In the past, we (Project Esperanza) have tried to help a widow out when her husband dies with 3 months rent. I talked to her about cooking and cleaning for an upcoming volunteer group, and she said she can do it! So we will give her a chance. Hopefully it goes well. 

Is anyone interested in trying to sell these prints?  Again, this photo has always been my absolute favorite. It was Isuna, our art shop seamstress, who told me about Emaz's husband when he fell, about her struggles caring for him in the hospital, and then when he passed away. She immediately requested that we take in her oldest son, who is 9. This would mean bringing him to live in the group home. Yesterday Isuna mentioned this to me again and said that Emaz is hopeful that we will do that. Does anyone have thoughts? 

I promised Emaz at least two more months rent after paying the first... but she was already backed up 3 months when we paid the first month. 


"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."    - James 1:27


martes, 13 de enero de 2015

I Still Am a Grandmother! Surprise!

So, yesterday I went to the Haitian consulate in Santiago to check up on some documents for some parents in our school.. these are documents needed to make their passports. It has been almost a year since we entrusted a consulate employee who came to the school, to receive the funds, fill out the paperwork, and get the job done. He told me they were all there ready and he would bring them to me on Dec. 11th, 2014 and then did not show up but disappeared to Haiti for his vacation. One parent contacts me at least weekly as he needs his document to enroll in a regularization program here that is very cool and should allow many people to get residency.

Anyway, I did not realize the date until I was leaving the consulate fairly unsuccessfully and waited on the porch for the rain to stop before running to catch the M car back to the bus station. I noticed there on the porch a table with a beautiful bouquet of white flowers. I wondered what they were for and got near to read the card. In memory of January 12, 2010. The earthquake.

That day was so shocking. But ironically, the hardest part for me was not what happened in Port-au-Prince, but a loved one we lost while visiting his mom and family in the mountains of Northern Haiti, unaffected by the earthquake. We had been buying insulin for Anol and giving him donated insulin for over a year at that point. But he still had problems managing his diet and the diabetes. He left for Haiti before Christmas so by January 12th we were expecting for him to come back any day. But even before we heard about the earthquake, we were told that Ti Anol died. This caused us to pack up and go to Haiti for my first time with our six month old. What all went on on that 16 day trip.. well.. I'll publish a second book of journal entries with that in it at some point, and share with PE's monthly sponsors beforehand. But I'll just say I can't believe some stuff I did due to my crazy faith. I think I made quite a reputation for myself at the Grisongarde cemetery. I was taken over by loss but learned to be strong through mourning. Bad things kept on happening in the months to follow, more deaths, and it seemed as though Satan was winning in this part of the world.

Well, that was five years ago yesterday.  As I looked at the flowers, I thought about whether it was a day that would be remembered for God's glory or Satan's. Finally got home around 5pm and sat down with my kids at the table, eating the fruit I brought home. Jeres came in the door with a little girl and led her to me. She looked like Angelina. But I knew Angelina had died. She had been recently buried. "Who is this?" I asked Jeres.

"It's Ewode's daughter," he replied. I refrained from believing what I was seeing and jumping up and hugging her until I understood. Had Ewode just really needed money and made up the story of his daughter dying to request the funds for her burial, while using them for something else? That was a possibility... 

"I thought she died," I said. 

"That was another one," he answered? I questioned. "They had another one." I then believed it was her, jumped out of my chair, hugged her and kissed her, and announced to the kids that Angelina had not died after all. I then remembered that I had never told them, not wanting to break the sad news to them, so they were confused as to what was going on. But I squeezed her and coddled her like a grandmother. I don't think I told all of the details of Ewode and Jilande's time with us. After a number of months, I had to cut them off. Ewode had left the group home voluntarily before his time arrived and made a baby, so I couldn't be rewarding that by caring for him and his family. What example would that set for the others? I was so glad that he brought his girlfriend to me when she was pregnant, came to me when he was nervous at the hospital during the birth, came to me when they had troubles and when her mother rejected him, etc. I was so happy to provide care for Angelina and validate him as her father, when he was being treated like a disposable person because of his difficulties in bringing in an income.. but they grew too dependant and I eventually had to cut them off. After all, they began sending Angelina to spend most of her time with Jilande's mother, so I was not even helping her anymore, but them as a young couple. 

Ewode was a bit ungrateful at this and lashed out. So when he came around after that, I kept a safe distance and was intentional to not speak with him much. So I didn't ever know that Jilande had become pregnant again, or that the baby who passed away was a newborn.. NOT Angelina! I know the life of one child is no more precious than the life of another, but of course it was an amazing surprise to see Angelina alive and well before me when I had thought she had died! And by the way, Jeres didn't realize they had had another baby either when he reported the death to me. 

As I played with Angelina a bit, her daddy stayed outside. Jeres eventually led her back to him and I hugged her and kissed her good-bye. I didn't talk to Ewode for the same reason as before... wanting to keep a safe distance. But Jeres told him that I would give him an antiobiotic cream in a few days. I wish the world for the little girl and will always do what I can to help with her when needed. As for Ewode, it seems like Jilande's family has fully accepted him now and as a couple they have proved themselves. So he is okay. Still struggling like most Haitians tend to do in this country as well as their own, but his family situation is much better. 

So January 12, 2015 was a day of God's glory here. I got a sweet surprise and thank him for that. God's will and human suffering.. is there a harder topic? This is what Gemma, Chantal and I have been looking into in our Saturday morning bible studies. All explanations seem to contradict something about his character, or make him seem flawed... but

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."


Nonetheless, I'll keep trying to understand. 


miércoles, 31 de diciembre de 2014

I Was a Grandmother... RIP Sweet Angelina. :(

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I announce the death of little Angelina.

You Tube doesn't want to show this video but here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A62TBpUmseg

This is the daughter of "Ewode and Jilande" I wrote about previously. They were living in Montellano. They had been through so much but stayed together and were raising their daughter. A few days ago, Ewode showed up asking for help. I spent a lot of the day at a plot of land Project Esperanza has planting cacao trees. When I came back, I saw him on the road but did not speak with him. When I went inside, Jeres asked to talk to me. He told me that their little girl, who was now two and a half, passed away in the night.

The explanation they gave him was that she was fine. She wasn't sick. She woke up for a bit in the night and was playful. Then a bit later they woke up and saw that she had blood running down her chest, coming from her nose. They rushed her to the hospital in Montellano and they were told to take her to Puerto Plata. I'm sure they were traveling on motorcycle. By the time they got to the Puerto Plata hospital, she had passed away.

Ewode was seeking help (2,500 pesos) for the funeral. I gave it to him (on behalf of Project Esperanza) and he rushed off to bury her. I didn't get to talk to him and Jilande yet. I want to tell them that they did a great job and that God has great things in store for them, I know it. My heart is broken for them. May the Lord ease their pain and give them hope. Oh how I saw Ewode make efforts for that little girl and for his family. Rest in peace, sweet little Angelina....

domingo, 28 de diciembre de 2014

Ilayas and Laura Vitale

When Ilayas was about 2 years old, he always wanted to watch Betty Crocker Kitchen videos and Laura Vitale videos. Laura Vitale is a woman in New Jersey who makes fun videos about every dish. We recently started watching her again to learn how to make cookies this Christmas. Last night Ilayas insisted that we make cookies but it got too late. First I should note that we don't have an oven so any baking takes place in the dutch oven, so they don't really look like cookies, but we try. To appease him, I said, why don't we watch Laura Vitale cookie videos and figure out which one we want to make tomorrow. Here he is watching the video and drawing the ingredients. He told me this was so I knew what to do when we make them. I found that too funny and had to take a picture. He started the video to let it progress, then stopped it to draw the mixer, stopped it again to draw the cookie sheet. Love this little guy.