Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas, from our Klinik to yours!

Today, I had the privilege of being Santa Clause or "Tonton Noel" for our staff. Delivering little gifts of fun, plus their end of the year pay and bonus. I have the privilege of working with some fabulous people. 
I have had a fellow nurse & Canandian named Ang work with me these past few months. She has not only worked with us in Klinik, she & her husband are some of our housemates. Her cooking skills are unreal, she's always down for a board game, and going to the market together is a guaranteed adventure. She & Phil are returning home to have their own little bundle of joy early next year. But we will miss her at Klinik Jubilee. It has been amazing to watch people respond to hearing that she is pregnant, plus the change of calls on the street- from "blanc" (white person) to "gwo vant" (pregnant lady). Their sweet baby is going to be one lucky kid.
Meet Vanel- or "J.B." are we tend to call him. He graduated from the nursing assistant program here and began working with us this summer. His smile and response of "no problem" to whatever comes his way makes working with him stress-free.
Samuela has been with us since the very beginning of my working in Klinik. She was a graduate of the very first nursing assistant class. Not only is she insanely smart, but she has a kindness that makes her a favorite of most of our elderly people who come for our blood pressure program. Don't let her soft spoken voice fool you- she has a spunky attitude that is perfect for her work at Klinik.
Joining us in May, Wisline is one of the newer members of our staff. She is the class clown, always having a funny joke or comment. She never fails to keep us smiling and laughing. She is also the only nurse I have met that sat for the national exams and has an actual nursing license in Haiti. One great lady!
Although Oscar has left us during the week, his presence is still felt during rounds in the village of Jubilee on the weekends. He goes to nursing school for 12 hours, 5 days a week, then goes visiting on his days off. We can't wait for Oscar to graduate!
Oscar's buddy for Jubilee home visits in Valmy. Not only was he in our wedding in Haiti, happens to be one of my husband's dearest friends, and loves my dog, but is a huge asset to our Klinik. His gentle spirit is perfect for his visits in Jubilee.
And although she has been gone all fall, we cannot forget Keziah! She was a built-in BFF when I first moved to Haiti. I'm counting down the days until she can come home. It does not matter if we are cooking dinner or stitching up a little kid who stepped on a glass bottle, everything is better when she is around.
So as we finish off another year in Jubilee, we wish you a "Bon Fet Noel" or Merry Christmas from hot, dusty Gonaives. 
Bon Fet Noel, from our Klinik to yours!
"What if Christmas doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
-Dr. Seuss-

Friday, November 15, 2013

Caught in the very act of life

"I believe in a life of celebration. I believe that the world we wake up to every day is filled to the brim with deep, aching love, and also with hatred and sadness. And I know which one of those I want to win in the end. I want to celebrate in the face of despair, dance when all we see on the horizon is doom. I know that Death knocks at our doors and comes far too early for far too many of us, but when he comes for me, I want to be full-tilt, wide-open, caught in the very act of life. I think that's what we're here for, not for a passive, peaceful life, but to stand up in the face of all that lacks peace and demand more."
Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist

Friday, November 8, 2013

Another question in my mind

"Orphan" is a catchphrase that I've heard a lot recently. Online, from the pulpit, & in books. I came upon a blog the other day that did an amazing job of portraying the reality of orphan care in Haiti. It is well thought out, a blog that creates more questions than answers. Just the kind that I like. Click on the link if you're interested.

Here is my favorite exert:
"Since the earthquake Haiti has been inundated with new churches and missions groups and small and large organizations that are seeking to help. Most of them probably have really great hearts and decent intentions. The problem is that many (and I mean many) have come to build their own orphanages. That seems to be the hip thing to do right now. A lot of them probably have no grasp of what is already taking place on the ground. They come without the benefit of years and experience and the understanding of culture. They come thinking that taking in and housing/feeding children can only be good. They want to offer children things their poor families cannot. They come thinking that when someone brings them a child they are hearing the true and accurate story about the reasons the child must be abandoned there. Some come forgetting that starting an orphanage is at least a 20 year project unless you plan to bail-out a bunch of kids mid-stream.  

We should all be asking if this is the best use of funds and energy? We should be asking if this is good for Haiti? Is building new very expensive structures to take in children with families good stewardship? We should be asking if giving people more places to put their children might possibly create more orphans? Seriously. We should. We should be asking if it might be money better spent by investing in existing structures that either do things with integrity and take excellent care of kids or in programs that work to keep families together and help support women to raise their own children. It should be wrestled with constantly. Couldn't we think outside of the box about ways to support families to keep their children at home? Wouldn't that cost less than building giant buildings? With upwards of 400,000 institutionalized children and just a few hundred adoptions, doesn't it make sense to search for better alternatives?"

This week, we entered our sixth infant into the formula program in Klinik Jubilee. Let me say that again: in the past 3 months, we have come into contact with six new "orphans." Five women died during childbirth (we have one set of twins). Six babies whose Dads are not around.
But the story DOES NOT end there. Each week we have the privilege of seeing Aunts & Uncles bring in these babies. They are weighed and given formula. Orphans no more, each one of these sweet children have a home. Their families have absorbed them naturally. Beauty out of sadness, it is so sweet to see. The world might label them as an orphan, but they have become absorbed into their biological families. Hear me loud & clear: if we say we believe so strongly in taking care of the orphans, that should also mean fighting for them to stay with their family if possible. A child in a family structure always does better than in an institution. We all desire to belong to someone. 
I write this to celebrate! Celebrate these families who have taken in these kids. 
I write this to ask. Help us help these families take care of their own. It costs about $15 per week to provide formula for one infant. In Klinik Jubilee, we have seen that these infants who get formula for the first 6 months do not need the supplemental nutrition of Medika Mamba (medicinal peanut butter). They do not even qualify for it! I'm a huge believer in preventative medicine. Help us to prevent the need for more extreme measures such as Medika Mamba. Help us continue to find creative ways of keeping families together. If you are interested in being a part of this, please contact me.
"Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one's life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery?
-Dorothy Day-

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Love You By & By

I'm back! After a few months of being off the grid (& getting married), Grace Deal has returned as Grace Greene. I had the fun of having not one, but TWO weddings. Two ceremonies, two receptions- and I even got to wear my dress twice. While I do not have pictures from the one in Charleston, SC yet, I can share quite a few from the wedding in Gonaives. Beautiful and oh, so much fun!

"Oh, I'll tell you that I
I love you by and by
I don't know if I'd survive
Without a friend with you in my life."
By & By
Brett Dennen