Thursday, April 4, 2013

One Stop

Yesterday Erin and I took Stephenson our oldest boy in the Miriam Center who is 25 years old down to the one stop to teach him how to use his hard-earned money.  Stephenson’s main disability is seizures and mild MR. He is such a hard-worker and has recently started working in the new central kitchen at the mission and receiving a salary.  He always has eyes open to anyway he can help ANYONE. His #1 characteristic is hardworking.  We realized that He is making all this money but had no idea how to spend it. Yesterday was our first attempt at teaching him. He loves to eat and eats BIG portions…so yesterday afternoon Stephanie explained to him in Creole before we left that “you work hard for your money and you are gong to go into town and if you want a drink you buy 1….if you want some food., you buy some.” He was so EXCITED. And thus we headed downtown. Stephenson bought Erin and I ice cream and himself 4 Pate and a drink. We could not believe he ate ALL that food after he had just eaten a humungous plate of beans and rice for lunch 2 hours before. We had a nice meal sitting at the “tiki bar” at the one stop. It was a wonderful experience. We then took him inside to help us buy catch-up for dinner. We got the idea of setting up a small store at the mission and teaching him how to buy the items he needs like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. (but actually putting the $ back in his folder after) This would help teach him $ management. Stephenson has been requesting his own room stating “I can’t live with those boys anymore…they don’t respect me or my stuff.” He is growing up & we need to start considering more seriously his future. Yesterday was another step forward in helping him! I feel blessed to have gotten the opportunity to be apart of it.

I went from an AMAZING experience yesterday at the one-stop to being in a place where my heart hurts after just returning from an ice cream outing to the One Stop. Erin & I got the idea yesterday on the way back up the hill yesterday with Stephenson that is would be so much fun to bring the severe and profound children down 1:1 to get ice cream & spoil them for an hour. Today we took Chamma & Rachel. After nap-time we dressed the girls super cute, packed a backpack with spoons/baby wipes and headed downtown. As we were leaving the gates Chamma mumbled “bye” to the momma’s. This is the first time I have heard her say any other words other than “ka-ka” and “Hi”. The girls were so EXCITED! As soon as we left the mission gates I would say 95% of the people we passed starred…stopped in their tracks and turned around to look at us. We enthusiastically said “Bonsua!” which means “good-afternoon” to each as many people as we could. The girls smiled at them and a few we even lifted the girls arms to wave. When we got the one-stop we immediately drew a crowd of people starring at us (mostly the one-stop workers…particularly the security guard). I left both girls with Erin as I walked into the one-stop to buy 3 little containers of ice cream (the girls shared).  Chamma loved her ice cream she tried chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla! Rachel had a hard time eating it as it became liquid to quick & she was aspirating BUT she enjoyed the 1:1 time. I purposely ate off of the same spoon as Chamma to make an even bolder statement that these kids are not a curse and we can’t catch anything from them even eating after them as is believed.  Before leaving I needed to run back into the store to pick up a few items for Stephanie. I decided to take Chamma in with me. I was surprised that the security guard ran in after me and watched me intently the entire time…along with the rest of the staff.  This was so unusual…since moving here I have been to the one-stop over a dozen times and they have always been so friendly & nice.

On the way back to the mission Erin and I were talking about our feelings of what just happened…we came to the conclusion that though our hearts hurt deeply on how the Haitian society views children with disabilities that this activity is a great way to raise disability awareness and to practically do disability advocacy. We plan on going tomorrow again with 2 different kids! Since disabled children are hidden away…they are viewed so horribly/incorrectly…you are shunned from your community for having a disabled child…you are looked down upon…there is a severe lack of exposure. They need to see that the beliefs they have are not justifiable…they need to see us loving on these children…they need to see us being Christ’s hands and feet…They need to be shown the worth/value these kids have!

As I have been sitting here reflecting more I began to think what my parents must face 1x a week when they bring their children to outreach…how many looks do they get?...How many mean things are said to them or about their child?... How many are truly ostracized from their families and/or their communities?...How many feel no other choice then to keep their child inside other than 1 day a week?

The past 3 or 4 weeks God has really been laying on my heart the importance of doing more outside the gates as far as disability care and advocacy. A few things we are praying over include home visits to outreach families homes, in the summer doing VBS combined with disability advocacy in my outreach families area & bringing the disabled child/family and integrating them into all the activities, and now doing little outings to the one-stop. The thought of trying to change the view of disabilities in Haiti can seem so overwhelming BUT God is constantly reminding me that just like I say that I want to change Haiti 1 child at a time that the only way I am going to change the mindset/view of disabilities in Haiti is by helping 1 person at a time see the TRUTH!

Today we took Berto and Niaka down to the onestop for ice cream "their first date." We always joke that these 2 are boyfriend and girlfriend because they always sit next to each other. The other day I went downstairs and found them in the stroller with interlocking arms AND Berto does not like when anyone else sits next to him ;-) The security guard did not hang as close to us today and did not stare as much. We still had people stop and stare but the people who were there the day before did not. We realized this is a great way to do disability advocacy. Berto loved his ice cream but Niaka was not such a fan. It was a fun trip!


Thoughts as I laid in bed last night....
I admire my kids so much & the way they live EVERYDAY despite their disability. It challenges me to grow more into who Christ created me to be. I see Christ in each of them...the following are just a few ways I to be like my kids in Haiti & thus more Christ like...
1. Be HARDWORKING like Stephenson and Lovejinnie

2.Have JOY like Isaac, Minushe, &  Chamma

3.Have STUBBORN DETERMINATION like Den-Den, Walden, Steven

4. Have a CALM/PEACEFUL Spirit like Jean, Emma, & Ti-Stevenson

5. Have ENERGY like Marckinely & Carlos

6. LOVE like Steven and Ju-Ju

7. Have PATIENCE like Cherlinda, Rosalie, & Kem

8. DANCE like Isaac, Jenny, & 

9. SMILE CONTAGEOUSLY like Joshua & Rachel

10. LAUGH like Emma, Lounide, & Jessica


12. REST like Gildine

13. GO WITH THE FLOW like Niaka

14. ENJOY THE SUNLIGHT like Thamara

15. ROCK-OUT TO DAILLY LIFE SITUATIONS like John-Kerry and T-Willy


17. WORSHIP GOD WITH FAITH LIKE A CHILD like all my kids!!!!!