First let me say, I still want to write about little Ebo and I plan to. Another family that has come into my path is a woman named Flavi, her son Wendel, and her good friend Mari. I'll tell about them quickly and then tell about Chinaider. I saw Claudion one day as I headed home from one of the first days of summer English camp and volunteer activities. He said he had just left our house looking for me. There is a woman in Padre Granero with a little handicapped boy. People are telling her to throw him out. He's not that bad off except he doesn't walk and he has a big head. I told him to bring him to the school there and let him know when we would be there.
He showed up with her at the time and date that I said. I quickly learned their story. Her husband had recently passed away in their home town of Gonaives... a few hours up the dusty road from Port-au-Prince... very far from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. He had been sick. She was about 5 months pregnant. She had no place of her own but was staying at a friend's house. She and her son faced hunger daily. They were just in a terrible situation. I gave her 50 pesos to get something for the little boy. He chugged a little carton of milk. His head is big but not huge as I had seen in pictures of other children. I explained to her what I knew of hydrocephalus, which I assumed he had, and told her that I would write to a friend whose husband ran a clinic in Sosua. He happens to be a neuro-surgeon and has done these operations for free for people before. There are still costs for materials and things, but he is able to do his part free, get some donated materials, etc. She listened but didn't seem completely satisfied, as she didn't know what the future held. She followed me as I went to the colmado to get a daiper for Maraya and sat with me as I changed her. "I don't know if you understood," she said. "If you'll take him, I'll give him to you." I listened to her and just tried to talk to her in a way that let her know that maybe that things would be okay without making a direct promise. I asked her what her will was for the baby in her stomach and she said the same. If God made her find someone, she would give the baby to that person, because she could not take care of herself, let alone kids. She has two more in Haiti. We have done training to teach women to make jewelry and other art items, and we do have fair trade art shops to sell these items. This helps mothers, but it does not, at this point, create enough income for everyone invovled to sustain themselves and their families. She was especially in a low spot having just come from Haiti. Again, she has two older kids in Haiti but no real family other than that. She left them with people but is anxious to get back to them as she didn't know how the people are treating them. I asked more about Wendel. He can crawl but not walk. His head became enlarged when he was about 4 months old.
|Mother Flavi with her son Wendel and friend Mari.|
So let me move forward. We're taking things one step at a time. I have been able to give them some food donated by this organization who I was blessed to meet the director of, have been able continue to provide them with some milk for Wendel and food, paid for her ultrasound, and took Wendel to a consultation with the neurosurgeon. They did a CT scan which I used 1,500 pesos of Project Esperanza funds to pay for.. (I actually still owe half of that and they gave half the normal price plus didn't make him get put to sleep because he was already asleep, which lowered the price as well). They showed me the CT scan of a normal brain and a scan of Wendel's brain. The ventricles appear to be black spots in the center of the brain. Wendel's are a few times larger than that of the normal brain because they are filled with fluid. If this continues, it will cause his brain to deteriorate and could be fatal. They should put in a shunt that drains the fluid from his brain to his.. abdomen was it? And this should be checked up on throughout his life, the length of the tube changed as he grows, etc. So what is the next step? A spinal tap to make sure that he does not have any infections before he is operated on. What will this cost? With the clinic foundation's help, between 2,500 and 3,000 pesos. The current exchange rate is 39 pesos to the US dollar. If he does have an infection, treat that before surgery. If he doesn't, go on with surgery. But with all of the donated supplies and services, surgery will still cost over $1,000 US. Does anyone want to help save this boy's life by donating for this cause? His mom and friend made the journey to the Dominican Republic for his sake so I do think that they will continue to make sure he gets the proper care in the future. That's all I'll say about that for now.
|Three of the other first boys - Alin, Alex, and Louis.|
I was at the basketball court with a group of the boys and something had upset Chinaider, who was among the smallest and most unkempt of the boys. He was sitting outside the gate of the court mouthing off and eventually threw a glass bottle in where the rest of us were, which shattered, scattering pieces of glass at the doorway where everyone, most being barefoot, passed. At this point my Creole skills were limited as were Chinaider’s Spanish skills so our verbal communication was therefore limited. I grabbed his hand and pulled him inside to get the broom and dust pan. When we arrived back at the basketball courts it started raining and he cried loudly as he swept up the glass. I walked with him back to the house to put the glass in the trash and return the broom and dust pan. As we walked back, I realized how many times I had seen him cry and become upset in this way over the past two weeks. However, still angry with him and disciplining him, I led him firmly by the wrist and composed a few sentences in Creole, saying, ¨I’m going to learn Creole so I can talk to you more because I see that you’re unhappy and I want you to be happy.¨ I knew that that didn't mean much to him at the time but was filled with determination to follow through on my words.
|Chinaider in 2007. He just now (while visiting) took |
this off as his facebook profile picture.
I asked him if he had been living with his mother. He told me that he had and that he had gone to a year of school. This is a HUGE success that warms my heart. I asked if she knew that he had come back to the Dominican Republic. He said that he had come without her knowing but called her from Santiago, where he had already spent about a week with old friends from the streets who were now living there. I told him that he would have to go back. He told me that I could call her right away if I wanted and if I could give him transportation money, he would go right away. He had realized his mistake. We visited the next day (Sunday) and then planned on sending him back the next day (Monday). We called his mom before sending him off. We didn't get an answer. I bought him a new pair of sandals as his were completely worn through. I gave him money to get there, a little for food, and a little to have in his pocket upon arrival. He left Monday morning, planned to sleep on the bus at its station in Cap Haitian, and then arrive at his house in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening he wrote on my facebook wall. I was shocked and so saddened to read what he wrote. He arrived home to find that his mother had passed away three days before. He went to his father's house. He had explained to me through the years that his father had left his mother for another woman and that his brothers had gone to live with his father and step mom. His mother was naturally heartbroken. Now when he visited, he told me that his brothers had returned with his mother and his father did nothing to support the family. His mother didn't like them spending the night at their father's. She said that they may be poor but it is better that they stick together and work hard than to submit to him as he created division in their family and did not give them value. This strikes my heart because of how I have seen this boy grow up, how little boys are so affected by their fathers, how I have seen him do a few selfish and unloving things that I had attributed to him following his father but I had seen him do such loving and sacrificial things as well. I always tell boys that they have to think critically about their fathers (mothers are not perfect but Haitian fathers definitely struggle, in general, to give the proper example that their sons need), follow what is good in them, and throw out what is bad. On many occasions, even though he was very young and did not have a family, I had tried to persuade Chinaider to know that family separating practices are not good and everything that leads to them are not good. To hear that this was the stage that his family had arrived to, I felt that it was a road to victory. I was so encouraged to hear of his mother's strength and victory over her children.
Chinaider also wrote that upon finding his mother had passed away, he went to his father's house. His father told him that he was not his son. I of course don't know whether or not this is true, but it seems untrue but that his father did not want to take responsibility over him. He said that he did not want to leave and his father ended up running after him with a machete to force him to leave. He now had nowhere to go and thought of killing himself. I wrote back telling him to come back. We would, of course, take him in.
When I first wrote this, I had not heard back from Chinaider but was troubled by the agony I knew he was experiencing. He since wrote me back and said he would come, but was just waiting until he felt up for the trip. He has a family waiting for him here. Although he has made some bad decisions in the past, he has literally been a part of our family in the past and although I grieve the circumstances, I am happy to have him back in the family again. Bondye kenbe'l sivouple. Lord hold him please.