A Post By Haley
For those of you who don’t know me, I am not really a kid person, especially those I don’t really know and newborns. I like them; they are cute and funny, but I don’t really want to pick them up and cuddle them with their snotty noses and drool. I will never be one to ask a stranger if I can hold their baby or touch their pregnant stomachs – ew.
But, one night everyone was going to the orphanage, I thought, ‘eh- I just worked all day, the last thing I want to do is have a bunch of kids I don’t even know touch me and ask for hugs.’ But everyone was going, so of course, I wasn’t going to be lame, so I went.
When we got there it was just what I expected. Lots of kids and lots of touching. I was overwhelmed as I found myself suddenly surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of children- but turned out to be only about 35.
Little girls tugging on my arms asking what my name was and wanting to show me all their friends; I was thinking, ‘Okay, this is cute, but I’m ready to go.’
Then the kids started singing and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, am I in Annie right now? How cliché is this. American girl goes to Haiti and gets her pictures with a ton of cute kids. Great, I can check this off my Facebook profile picture bucket list.’
So annoyed that I was actually there experiencing something that so many young girls long for, I politely listened to the kids.
I mean, it was cute.
As I stood there listening, all of a sudden I felt 25 pounds heavier –so confused, I looked to my right and a child had appeared on my hip! I thought, “Wait, how did that kid get up here?” He must have shimmied up onto me like I was a tree, because I know I didn’t pick him up. Comfortably situated on my hip, he said, “BonSawh (goodnight).”
‘Oh no! This kid is on me, touching me, touching my hair, I need to get him off of me,’ was my immediate thought.
Then the kids started singing again, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord.” And this kid- oh my goodness, started belting it out as loud as he possibly could.
I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at him, his head bobbing up and down, shouting the words so loudly.
The joy I felt through that child, just being held and enjoying singing together- made me cry happy tears. Hashtag, cliché embarrassing girl moment; hashtag, please don’t judge me for this, I know it’s cliché.
To be honest, I was thinking about how great these kids have it. Living in Haiti, in an orphanage where they are receiving an education, have two meals each day, and a place to sleep; they were so fortunate.
After the singing was finished, we had to go. I tried to tell this kid goodbye. “Ovawah,” I said. He didn’t let go. So I waved, that’s universal in every language, right? He clung on even tighter. So then, being afraid I would be left behind and stampeded by children, I started walking to catch up with the team.
I asked the little boy what his name was; he didn’t know what I said. A little girl came over and told me, “His name is Samuel.” Then she disappeared like a ninja; these kids were everywhere.
So I sat down on the ground and told him “Ovawah Samuel.” I basically pried the child off me and looked at him; he was sad. I was sad and also confused.
I started walking away and turned back to look; he was still standing there, watching me walk, as kids dodged around him running and skipping. Hurrying my walk- I turned around later; he was gone- probably had already forgotten me, playing with his friends.
I left feeling conflicted that night.
First, I actually ‘had a moment’ with a child I didn’t know and couldn’t communicate with. That was weird.
Second, those kids, for being in Haiti, are pretty well off. But is that really well off? How much more could be done to help the other kids who are on the streets?
Third, so many people come down to play with the orphans and leave. Or they come in and provide a care and then go. Personally, I’m learning the value of working with something sustainable.
This whole experience made me so happy that HIS Vision is not short term. We are in for the long haul; we are in Haiti to make a difference and we are determined.
It takes many people with all different talents and abilities to make a difference. If you are interested in Haiti and want to work with something sustainable and long term, let me know! We would love for you to come, have a couple cliché moments and meet some Samuels of your own.