jueves, 22 de enero de 2015


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. 

sábado, 27 de diciembre de 2014

Grreeat Christmas..

This was a very nice Christmas. I was so busy leading up to it and then extra relieved to have the family time. I am so sad that it is coming to an end with volunteers starting to come for the winter break trip, but happy for volunteers to come as well.

I downloaded Windows Movie Maker on Christmas Eve, I believe, and made two videos on the 25th, then another on the 26th. Here are those. And then below are photos of kids painting a table I got them.

Our Christmas morning:

Munoz project:

New building for the school in Padre Granero:

Pictures from the table painting:

lunes, 22 de diciembre de 2014

The Newbie is Gone!

So, the newbie, Jemps, didn't last very long. Good thing no one responded to the request for help in warding and educating him. We started questioning his story within the first few days of his stay. His Spanish actually was pretty good. This is never the case with people who have just come from Haiti for the first time as he said he did. When I asked him how he spoke Spanish so well, he said that his brother used to go to the capital and he would ask his brother how to say words and write them in his notebook to learn. I didn't buy it. He spoke like someone who had learned Spanish from living in the country, hearing it, interacting, etc. 

The other boys then reported that a woman asked him, in front of them, if he wasn't selling peanuts anymore. He replied back to her in Spanish that he didn't do that anymore and now lived with them. I spoke to the people he was staying with before us and it was true that he had just showed up and only been with them for a few days, but he had obviously been on the streets of Puerto Plata for an extended period of time prior. Sony and Loren encouraged him to tell the truth. He refused to share any more information or admit that he had lied about anything previously, and laughed it off. He did have a suitcase, which made it look like he had come from Haiti, but it looked like a brand new suitcase, not something a struggling mom in Haiti would send her son with. When I mentioned that, Sony and Loren figured that a foreigner bought that for him on the streets wanting to help him.

Also, within the first few days, he proved to be very... well... annoying! The boys kept reporting him eating meals with them, then waiting for them to leave, and stealing food, giving food to Chinaider who is not included in those food rations because of his older age, and then he would come and tell me he was hungry. He sold his suitcase right away as well. One afternoon he came to our living room window and told me he was hungry, that they had not given him food. Enelbi had been at the window about one minute before him. I said, "Call Enelbi for me". I was going to ask if it was true that he had not eaten with them. He said, "He left". I said, "He just now left, go call him." He left the window for maybe 15 seconds and came back and said, "He left". I told him I wasn't giving him any money or any food. I had a babysitter that week as it was exam week and I spent the full days out of the house, so I needed the extra help. He called the babysitter who was sitting in the living room and told her to give him some food.

If he was 11 or 12, we could've put up with this sort of behavior and disciplined him, but he reported being 16 years old. Unacceptable. The straw that broke the camel's back was that he apparently kept annoying an elderly neighbor and Jeres said that she wanted to or attempted to physically fight with him... something about him using her water spicket. This was at night, so he told him that there had been too many complaints about him and the next morning he needed to take his things and leave. I didn't find out until after he had left about any of this as I was so busy. The boys said that he reported to them that he had 3,000 pesos stored with someone somewhere and was going to retrieve it and go to the capital. Maybe he did know where his aunt's house was after all, if he did have an aunt in the capital. Or maybe he was going to live a life of grapiyay. Grapiyay is a word that basically means a person who lives on the streets. Sometimes it is not someone's fault that they live on the streets. Sometimes, as even happens in the US I believe, kids choose the lifestyle and get some high out of it. Not that they don't have big family needs, but they may have other siblings who, despite the family's needs, live at home with the family.


I have often asked boys not to call each other grapiyay. It has a very negative connotation. But I will admit that when one of them makes me really mad by doing something blatantly rude, like, for example, spitting on the floor inside of the house, I have started using it on occasion. It just has a strong effect and gets the point across. I guess I could also say, "You are inside, not outside. We don't spit on the floor inside," in a more patient way... but I think I lost my head a bit these last few months as I had never been so busy in my life, and didn't have the patience to spare. I really can't believe how much law school I covered in the past few months. I was so very far behind and had to give it all I possibly had to get through the year. We'll see if I passed.

I also recently invented a new word with the root of grapiyay. The word for ungrateful in Creole is engra. So when a boy is being especially rude and also ungrateful, like Jemps who asked the babysitter to give him food after I had told him that I would not be giving him money or food, one could use the word "engrapiyay". An ungrateful grapiyay. And by the way, when I caught up with Enelbi, he said that they did, of course, give him food, so Jemps was lying and scheming. Some people just cannot control themselves. He was probably on the streets prior, struggling to get meals. He found a spot in a home where he received meals, and he needed more? And he needed to scheme? Perfect example of how sometimes it is not just the physical needs that brings someone down, but their lack of education and principles! I will say that no one who acts this way normally lasts long in the home and everyone who is there permanently has not acted this way. You have to have a certain amount of humility, patience, and self control to live in a group and extreme poverty and hardships doesn't automatically create humility in some people.

However, I was impressed by Loren and Sony talking to him about telling the truth. One day, Ilayas was crying because he had lost his toy watch. I was trying to console him and told him I was sorry he lost his watch but he had other cool toys. Jemps told me to tell him I would get him another one. Sony said, "She can't lie to him." Ilayas kept crying a bit and Jemps told him that he himself would get him a new one. Sony got upset with him for lying to him and told him that things would only be worse if he lied about things, in reference to him lying about his background, time in the Dominican Republic, etc.

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!

lunes, 8 de diciembre de 2014

A Newbie!

So I don't remember when something has been this confirmed by God before. A house opened up next to ours, the boys begged for us to rent it for them. Within the same week or two, a man moved in a few doors down and happens to have more experience and education in this area than anyone else I've ever met around these parts. I posted about it, shared the post on FB, and got a very large monthly commitment. Immediately. That never happens. I posted again to share the success and tell about the remainder. That request got met immediately as well! Actually, it was met with a little excess.

Okay, those were good confirmations of the next steps to take - rent the house and hire the man whose name is Pastor Eustach. The house is rented, they are moved in, and Pastor Eustach is waiting until Dec. 11th when my final exam is done to talk about his position and get started. I told the boys in the meeting on Saturday that with the size of this house, we have room for two housemates. I also said that I was thinking of how to arrange Pastor Eustach's schedule, since I think for him to have a full schedule, it makes sense to have a few more kids in there. I had received the keys from the landlady just about an hour before our weekly Saturday meetings. Right after the meeting, they began moving in. 

Enelbi and Sony moving in.
That very same night, a friend was visited by a boy on the streets she has helped for at least a year. She does not want him to live where he is living, but he has been reluctant to make the change for various reasons. (Feel like maybe I should keep this anonymous at this point.) They had a bit of a hold out going on about the issue. Anyway, that same evening, he went to her and broke down about some things and... well anyways, I don't know if he will come live here or not, but it was another sign to me of, "Glad we have a little more space just in case!" I read her Facebook message with the news the following morning and it just was another confirmation.

Today is Monday. Just two days after we got the keys. And wouldn't you know. Jeres came walking home with a boy who he said needed to talk to me. The boy's mom was sending him to his aunt's in Santo Domingo. He is from an area outside of Cap Haitian. She paid a moto concho to take him from Ouanaminthe, Haiti to Santo Domingo. That is a VERY LONG motorcycle ride! He said that somewhere close to here, the moto concho pulled a gun on him and ditched him. His mom doesn't have a phone. He doesn't have a number to reach her. Or his aunt. This is his first time in the country. The moto concho knew where his aunt lives and was supposed to take him here. It sounds like he is a passer, who takes people and items back and forth from Haiti on a weekly basis for a living. 

Through pleading his case to other Haitians around, he found a man who has let him stay with him these past few days in Los Dominguez, our neighborhood. But the man wants him to smoke and he doesn't want to smoke. The man also wants to take his little suitcase with his belongings. I said, okay, okay, you can stay. But I need to find help ASAP for your food, or else others will complain of smaller portions because you are here, (I didn't say that last part but thought it), and for your transportation money to go to school because you can't be hanging out without doing anything! He said no, no, I like to work. I'll do whatever you ask me to do.

I said, "Why was your mom sending you to Santo Domingo?"

"My aunt lives there." 

"But if you were going to school in Haiti, why was she sending you to your aunt?" (I pretty much already knew the answer.)

"She doesn't have money to send me to school anymore." He told me he made it to 4th grade and is 16 years old, although he is tiny and looks younger. I asked about his dad and he said his dad had died. He has older siblings but he is the youngest. 

I told him I'll take his picture tomorrow in the daylight because my camera doesn't have very good flash. (done)

Those that are under 18 get 90 pesos a day for food, each, which they get together on Sunday mornings and collectively buy food rations to last the week. I feel like it should be upped to 105 so they can have a little something in the morning. Enelbi at least can't seem to manage without it. Anyway, let's say 90, so 2,790 pesos a month, which is $63.41 US per month for food. Then his school transportation will be 60 pesos a day, about 20 days a month. 1,200 pesos, which is $27.27 a month. $90.68 a month to cover his meals and transportation to school. Of course his sandals will break and he'll want deodorant and to wash his clothes on Saturdays and such. But food and going to school are the most, most essentials. Actually, with the excess commitment from the last requests, we can put the number at $80 US.

Why doesn't he get a job to buy those other things he will need? Well, at this point, he doesn't speak a lick of Spanish, even if there was work for him, which maybe there is. We have had a few kids find jobs that actually pay. The Nintendo business went well enough while it lasted but that is another blog post. When I am done with exams I plan on leading some serious gardening efforts on the plot of land we have.

Oh, I forgot to tell you his name! And I almost forgot to ask him as well. He said "Junior". 

I said, "We already have a Junior so you'll have to be called something else." 

He smiled and said, "Jemps". Sometimes this pronunciation is spelled James. But they say Jemps. I said, I'll take your picture and show others to say, "Look who God brought to us." He smiled and went to get his suitcase.

Alright, I need to get to sleep because I have Real Property and Criminal Procedure exams tomorrow! Please consider helping us to help Jemps! I'll post his picture tomorrow.. or it might actual not be until Friday because my last exams end 8:30pm on Thursday.(done)

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!