First thing first, the video of the Citadel is taking forever to upload! I am going to try to let it finish over night tonight!
Ok, now that you kind of have a an idea of what Haiti is like let me give you a picture of the orphanage. It is down a street that is well paved and lined with cement walls, which adds to the post-war feeling. Behind the wall is another gate further protecting the kids. The house is big and there is plenty of room for the kids. There are about 18 kids total; a baby girl and baby boy and the rest under the age of 10. Four of the kids get to go to first grade. One of the house moms walks them to protect them from moto-concho drivers and to make sure they arrive. Father Andre the Priest who started and runs the orphanage says they get so excited to go to school or to go to mass outside the walls of the orphanage. There isn’t a park or civic center or anything for the kids to do outside the walls so leaving for any reason is a big treat.
In the courtyard of the house is a play set with swings and a slide for the kids to play on all day. There are two bedrooms with bunk beds one room for girls and one for boys. A house mother sleeps in the room with them at night so if they need anything there is someone there. I know this for a fact because I was very concerned my first night there and Father Andre assured me there were taken care of in the night. There’s a kitchen that goes unused because the mothers cook outside over a fire. Let me just say while we are on the subject that it is very hard to introduce change to the people on the island of Hispaniola. There is a stove and oven and they cook outside. There is a washer and dryer and they still wash by hand. Part of it has to do with power outages that happen often but as a rule change is not a welcome guest. The house also has an upstairs for visitors with a kitchen, two bathrooms and bedrooms, chapel and meeting room. The kids aren’t allowed up there to give people a break from endless swing pushing and games of ring around the rosie.
Every other day the litte kids have preschool. The day starts with morning prayers and then breakfast. After breakfast it is time to learn reading, math and all other kinds of wonderful pre-k things! Snack at 10, more school, then done at lunch at 12. They then get to play for the rest of the day. There are house mothers working all day cooking and doing laundry. There is also a care taker and his assistants. They all love the kids and help to watch them, but there is so much work to do don’t always have time to play. This is why having volunteers come to play with them is so great. We get to hug on and play with adorable little kids the whole time! It is wonderful and yet a little overwhelming, which makes the upstairs room great for a quick break.
You can’t adopt Father Andre’s kids. He has a great plan for the future of these children. Right now there is only the house, but eventually there will be a school and more children. They will help to give back to Haiti and grow the economy and be good members of society. This is an amazing idea becuase if there is one thing I learned it’s that Haiti has to help Haiti.
Father Andre is Haitian himself. This all started when he was a young boy going into middle school and his parents didn’t have enough money to send him to school. He wrote a letter to the Canadian nuns to find out if there was a way he could still go to school. They all had a meeting and the nuns paid for him to go to school. While in school he asked if he could become a priest, he didn’t know because he had never seen a black priest. They started him as an alter boy and when he was 15 told the priest he was ready to be ordained because he knew all of the prayers. He finished school, went to seminary, undergrad in Canada in Psychology and masters degree at Ball state. When he finished he came back to Haiti and opened the orphanage.
So there you are next stop Citadel!