Days have passed and I have yet to make a concrete assumption as to what my trip to Haiti meant; to me and to my mission for the betterment of those I feel charged to help.

The details are immense of dissimilarity to the conditions we find as norms in this country, to the landscape of Haiti. But oddly I found myself mere hours into the adventure sympathizing not with the lack-of, which Haiti is victim, but to the access-to that I find so paralyzing, for which the people of this country fall victim.

The children, desperate for love and starved for parents having either died of natural causes, lost in the mix or in the 2010 earthquake, could grasp the heart of any person for which they came in contact. I found myself pitying them, but thankful their conditions are as they have been placed.

Father Andre; a gentle, caring but enthusiastically intelligent man has started two schools, the orphanage of the children I am speaking, is pushing evermore to give back, as he was given as one of Haiti's own lost children. Raised by nuns, educated in Haiti and the United States, Fr. Andre came back to Haiti only to return to the streets, pulling children from the dusty and poorly-paved roads of Cap Haiten and starting an orphanage to house those not much unlike him as a child.

I watched in their eyes as they played, as we gave treats - a single Oreo to each, in one case - and I saw something lost in the eyes of many. While we have found ways to destroy the bonds we are blessed and/or lucky enough to have, depending on your perspective and/or assumption, these children truly hold each other close; brothers and sister's not of birth, but of a common upbringing. One night I watched the oldest, with a plate of the leftover rice and beans from lunch, systematically scoop and allocate even portions to his 19 'brothers' and 'sisters', taking care not to miss anyone. As he did, one of the smallest girls did her best to mouth the scoop of food, while I cupped my hand under her mouth to catch the bits that fell.

The children were not shy, but boisterous and assured in their need to be held, holding our hearts at the same time. The first night, we sat at the picnic-style tables in the living room, watching the fuzzy 12-inch television, as one sat on my knee, his legs rapped around my right leg locking in and holding on, surely to take advantage of closeness of which he is starved.

We would play to exhaustion, while the children became more energized as the mid-80s heat and sun beat down on my back in their small play yard. And then we'd stop, I'd sit and five or six of them would pile on my lap and shoulders and back, pulling my hair rubbing my whiskered face and asking me questions in their native Creole, I'd try best to understand.

I learned to love them without a curriculum of understanding or without trying.

One particular boy, his parents having died in the catastrophic earthquake last year, attached to my hip and every time I'd come down the steps from our quarters, his eyes would lock into mine and his arms would shoot to the sky, begging for me to pick him up, hold him and sometimes toss him in the air. I spent hours watching him, when I didn't hold him as he etched on a magnadoodle, and in my moleskin. "Ecris, Ecris," he say softly to me when I'd bring my notebook to scribble down observations. I'd let him draw and oftentimes, he'd be practicing cursive figures of vowels, i noticed the teacher had left on the broken chalk board in the rudimentary classroom/play area.

Yes, my time in Haiti was not for me, but for the children. But it was a rejuvenation of sorts and a time to see, as I've already assumed, that there are innumerable perspectives to experience.


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