People always ask what we do when we come to the children’s home at HATS, and it’s not an answer I could sum up in a sentence or two; I can tell you this–it’s one of the busiest, and definitely the hottest, “sweatiest” times of the summer for me, and now for Mackenzie, too.
Probably, my most favourite part of the day is morning devotions, which start at 730a.m. It’s a time of singing and giving thanks for everything, and everyone, and every single person, including all Karen’s employees, take time from their work to be there. The morning celebration breaks up with hugs all around, handshakes, and exchanges of “have a good day!”
For the summer, some of the children are going to school for extra lessons in writing and math. They have been going for a few hours every morning around 7:30, so that they will be prepared for September.
Yesterday and today have been devoted to chalk drawings in the yard, with an occasional game of “chase” breaking out in between. The concrete yard is filled with bright pink, yellow, blue, and orange chalk outlines of the kids, along with some beautifully coloured Haitian chalk flowers. Sandra did 2 chalk “photos” of me today, and she even copied the “Ct3 Make a difference” text from my shirt to my chalk outline! I think we almost have a HATS family album of kids’ photos all done in chalk!
Things get a little quieter from 1-3, most times, because the children, and some of us big people, take some time out from the incredibly hot, humid Haitian weather to “recharge” and give our sweaty clothes a chance to dry out!
Later in the day, we all put on our sneakers and make the usual walk up the canal to the mango tree. I have lost count of the goats and cows, and occasional horses, that we see tied up along the banks. During the day, they are left to graze there, or in the water and grass of the harvested parts of the rice fields. I’m guessing the cows like it there because they get cooled off in the water, while they enjoy a good feed of grass. The walk to the mango tree is always an adventure, because it’s not always easy to keep track of that many excited little people who like throwing rocks in the water and climbing trees!
Haiti is always hot, but it is unlike any temperatures I have ever experienced. This year, I have really minded the heat, but that may also be partly due to the lack of sleep during the 6 nights of deafening noise of the nearby “fet”! Last night, it actually took some time to adjust to the quiet of just the crowing roosters and barking dogs when I got into my bed tent!
There is no shortage of things to do here, because it is just like home, but with 18 children instead of my 3! We spend time with the children playing cards, soccer, tag, basketball, or decorating the yard with chalk. The girls love to do braids, and there are always at least 4 pairs of hands working on my hair when I have “an appointment.” Mackenzie’s hair is also just long enough for the boys to put a few braids in his bangs–he’s been very patient, but he also loves it! This is no quick process for me, however, as the girls are always very determined to comb through every little piece of my long hair. In temperatures above 40°, though, this is very sweaty work!
Yesterday was pay day for the employees, so Karen entrusted me with that task. (Being a mom of 18 comes with an unimaginably busy schedule, so this was one thing I was happy to be able to take off her list.) There is an organized system of employees coming to the office for their envelopes, counting their money, and signing for it. Just like home on pay day, everyone was especially cheerful, and it was a real chance for me to test my ability to match everyone’s faces to the name on the envelope…I passed!
I love the peace that comes with the simplicity of life here. We have everything we need, and I love listening to the giggles of the children, or even the normal little sibling disagreements that break out on occasion. So maybe it is easy to answer that question of what we do when we come to Haiti– we live like we are at home, taking care of all the things that matter, like this wonderful, loving family of children! Hugs from us in Haiti