Monday, September 30, 2013

Extreme Makeover Miriam Center Edition

The end of August and the first few weeks of September has been super busy working on the Miriam Center Makeover. We are not even close to being done because it is a HUGE project. It consists of 3 phases…

Repainting the entire inside of the Miriam Center and the courtyard area. The Miriam Center has not been painted in a longtime and was in need a makeover.  I decided that It was logical to repaint before we tiled. We did not have funding for this so after some prayer I decided to fund this project. It has ended up costing triple what I expected but so worth it! We decided to get good oil based paint from PAP and are using bright, vibrant colors. It is so much more cheery around her :-) I never realized how BIG the Miriam Center was till you try to start painting the entire thing!

Phase 1 is about 75% done. We have been painting for tirelessly. Some days 8 hours a day working our way through the Miriam Center for over 3 weeks.  It has truly became a team project in which so many have helped…all the missionaries on campus helped, some of the MC staff & even family members, some of the Miriam Home kids as well as the orphans, as well as Alcana & Salandue. It has been awesome to work with so many to better the Miriam Center!!!  IT is challenging because when you run out of paint you can’t just jump in the car & go to the store as the paint store is an 8-10 hour bus trip 1 way away. We have run out of paint 2 times already…Also because we are using oil base paint & the cost of gas we are having to buy new brushes and roller heads everyday that we paint. So many challenges & roadblocks BUT we are jumping every hurdle slowly but surely!

Getting an inverter, hooking it up, running new wires to each room so that when we do not have power we can run lights and fans throughout the Miriam Center is the next big project. We have purchased fans from PAP for each room to have 3-4 fans to help increase airflow inside the Miriam Center. Many of our children have seizures which are increased with the heat. Our hope is that the fans will help decrease seizure activity in the hottest months, increase amount of sleep/quality of sleep the kids get and just provide overall increase comfort. An extra blessing is the fans came with lights attached for little night lights for the kids. The inverter is also HUGE in being able to run the oxygen machine when children are sick & need to be on oxygen throughout the night when there is not power.

Phase 2 is about 50% complete…We have 6 batteries so far on the inverter and it gives us ~5 hours of power when the power is off when running the oxygen machine and when not running the oxygen machine we can run fans throughout the night. We have realized we need 6 more batteries to be able to run the oxygen machine through the entire night. We need ~ $1,000 more to buy 6 more batteries. The inverter has already been a huge blessing in providing oxygen to Rachel & Derson when they were sick & needed oxygen. The children in the little guys room are also enjoying their fans & night lights. We are so thankful for Justin who is rewiring the entire Miriam Center and hooking up the fans/lights. What a HUGE blessing!!!!! This is a BIG project with A LOT of rewiring for Justin!

Phase 3- TILING
Tiling the entire Miriam Center that is not tiled already (which is the majority). This has been a dream of mine for years. Tile will increase sanitation so much. It will make it easier to keep the floors bleached & clean, It will also decrease sores on the children’s knees/legs while crawling, and overall be a HUGE asset to the Miriam Center.  We are still a few thousand dollars short for this project but we are trusting God will provide.

Phase 3- We are about 10% done with this project. Nahum & Stephanie shopped for tile in PAP. It is delicate as we want textured tile so not slippery but it can’t be too textured as we have so many kids who crawl. They brought 2 options back with prices. We then decided to check in PdP to see what tile they had & prices (although usually much more expensive). We were surprised that tile was cheaper in PdP and we were able to find 1 of the tiles we liked in PAP there. We have ordered the stone looking tile for the hallways, birdcage & kitchen as it is coming from DR and will take a few weeks. We have talked to the guys who will be installing the tile and are ready to start any day. We are going to start in the classroom so that we will have a transition room to use when other areas are being tiled!!! We are all so EXCITED!!!!







Hand Braces

I have been wanting to make Hand Braces for all the children who would benefit from them since I moved to Haiti in February. Hand Braces are huge for the kids as they help prevent skin breakdown in the palms of the kids hands who have spasticity, they promote appropriate position and they prevent further contractures & deformities from forming.  I had been putting it off  for multiple reasons including
1.     I knew it would be challenging for me as it is not my specialty
2.     I knew it would be extra challenging because I would be using old splinting material that does not mold as well
3.     I knew I had a limited amount of supplies & that does not leave room for mess-ups
4.     I knew I would need extra hands to help hold kids still while I molded & let dry
5.     I could only work for a few hours at a time while we had power

iI  I am so thankful for Presidue and the many people from the August summer teams that helped me by carrying kids upstairs for me, helped hold children & entertain them while I worked,  and helped cut Velcro for strapping. 

     All the braces are now made. I have decided that the older kids will wear them in the morning & the little guys will wear them in the afternoon during birdcage time. I have just finished making wearing schedules and plan on training 2 Haitians to donn & doff the braces. As to donn & doff all the kids braces (hands & feet) takes about an hour & half of my day and I want to make it sustainable when I am not here). The older kids Love helping handing out braces and collecting them!!!!

Many of the children here NEED to be stretched daily…they need daily massage…Unfortunately this is not possible 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Boppy Pillows Adventures

The other day one of my outreach mom’s approached me that she needed a new phone. Recently I have been convicted to not just give $ or even to just go buy what my families need for them but to finds ways to have them be apart in working for what they need. With the help of Presidue we came up with the idea of having her work for 4 mornings for me sewing & helping with projects to earn the $ she needed to buy a new phone.

This mother came for 3 days (1 day she stayed 8 hours instead of ) in a row & helped me make 20 new boppy pillows (Actually 40 as each had an inside pillow with a waterproof cover on the outside).  I thought I could just set her up and have her work but I quickly realized that there were portions I would have to complete like sewing on the sewing machine ;-) I wanted to teach her how to use the sewing machine but did not have a translator available and since it was my first time sewing on a sewing machine did not think I was a good one to teach ;-)

This mother helped me accomplish a lot in 16 hours of work. She helped fix boppy pillows we already had by hand sewing the places they had wripped open, she helped me cut out patterns for small, medium and large boppy pillows out of regular & waterproof fabric, to helped cut up old clothing to stuff the pillows with and sew the tops of the pillows shut, and on the last day she helped put snaps on the cloth diapers that still needed snaps.

It was such a blessing to work alongside this mother. She was such a hardworker. I do wish I knew more English and could have talked to her more. I did play Christian creole music while we worked ;-)

Rachel Memorial Video Miriam Center Haiti 2013

The past week has been extremely difficult and one of the BIG reasons is that God took Our Sweet Princess Rachel HOME to HEAVEN to be with Him. I know she is in a better place, she is whole, she is free of pain/suffering, she can breath easily, she walk, run, dance, play...Her body no longer restricts her. I praise God for that.

Rachel was born with Cerebral Palsy, Torticollis, Scoliosis, and a small airway. She had the sweetest spirit & demeanor that just drew others to her. She was full of the Joy of the Lord and had a smile that would light up a room. Her entire life she has struggled with breathing secondary to small airway which caused difficulty with  eating & drinking secondary to aspiration. She was such a fighter & fought through aspiration pneumonia so many times. She never was able to walk or stand but was working on sitting. She loved learning new skills & was such a hardworker. I remember when she first started being able to hold her head up, when she started to be able to lift her head during tummy-time...So many milestones I was blessed to see her meet!!!!

Rachel had just got done fighting a bad round of aspiration pneumonia about a week before she passed aways. She was hospitalized at La Pointe hospital as she required more care than we were able to provide for her at the mission. Verzilla (on of the night moms) stayed with her all 4 days she was at the hospital & took amazing care of her! When Rachel got back to the Miriam Center she was doing great. She was smiling, laughing, eating well, & back to her sweet self. The following picture was taken 2 nights before she passed away.

Teusday Morning I did my normal morning routine lately of checking on Derson in the nurses station & making sure He is alright. I went around and said Bonsure to all the momma's feeding the kids. All the kids were doing well including Rachel who had finished eating breakfast. I then went into the classroom to start  painting. I was trying to finish up the touchup paint to be ready to start laying tile. It was about 10:30AM when Presidue came into the classroom and said "Rachel is sick, we need you." In my mind I thought...oh she must have a fever or must need to be put on the oxygen machine & since Derson is already on there I must need to go see if I can borrow Maternity's...all while I was taking off my painting gloves carefully trying to be able to reuse them as I am running out of rubber gloves for painting. Presidue pops his head back in "NOW" So I go running with him. They already had her in the clinic area on a table surrounded by nurses and the doctors. She was not breathing; her heart was not pumping. The nurses & doctors did everything they could to help Rachel but God had called her home.

Rachel does have a Biological Mother who came to visit on numerous occasions over the years. We contacted her family to inform them of the passing & to see if they would be able to come to funeral. They have moved to PAP & were unable to come to attend but did send extended family to come (2 uncles). The pictures below are Rachel with her mom and brother. Rachel's 2 uncles were able to attend the funeral & burial.

The day after the funeral Rachel's Grandma & uncle showed up & I was able to bless them with about 8-10 pictures of Rachel from over the years. Since I do not speak Creole well I just hugged & held her grandma as she mourned the loss of her grandaughter. Her extended family over the 2 days multiple times thanked me & the miriam center for loving her so much & taking such good care of her. Rachel's 2 uncles were able to attend the funeral & burial. The day after the funeral Rachel's Grandma & uncle showed up & I was able to bless them with about 8-10 pictures of Rachel from over the years. Since I do not speak Creole well I just hugged & held her grandma as she mourned the loss of her grandaughter. Her extended family over the 2 days multiple times thanked me & the miriam center for loving her so much & taking such good care of her. 

So here we are a week later...The longest week of my life. Every time I walk downstairs I just expect to see her in the preschool, in her chair during meal-times, in bed next to Chamma (her best friend)...I expect to see that smile that lights up a room...We are all still greiving. Please continue to cover us in prayers myself, the momma's, and the children for comfort, healing, strength/courage to move on. Pray that we can all cry & grieve with HOPE knowing that we will see her face again! 

Please pray extra hard for Two of the Momma's who were super close to Rachel & had a special bond with her. Over the years she became one of their "favorites" Madam Gilbert and Madam Salidia.

Also please keep Mary-Julia in your prayers as God has gifted her with such a motherly spirit & tender compassionate heart. She has been helping take care of sweet Rachel since she came to the Miriam Center. She loves holding her, rocking her, helping feed her, & playing with her. Please pray that God will help comfort Mary-Julie as she mourns the loss of her sister & dear friend. 

Sweet Princess Rachel...You are have touched countless lives in your short life. You will be forever in our hearts...on our minds...and be our angel watching our for us from heaven. Can't wait to see you again in Heaven my sweet baby girl. I can't wait to hear your voice for the first time, to see you walk, run & dance and to hug and kiss you again!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Anastacia, Sabrina, Caleb

I write this blogpost with a BIG SMILE and a little sad as a small part of my heart  is missing at the same time. I am so EXCITED to inform you that 3 of our precious Miriam Home children have been moved to different environments that better meet their specific needs. My heart is sad because I love them & will miss seeing their smiling faces on a daily basis!!!!

Sweet Anastasia came to the Miriam Center from the baby orphanage. She was normally developing but needed cleft lip & cleft palate surgeries. Over the last year she has been able to get 2 separate surgeries to repair her lip & palate. She did GREAT with both surgeries!!! During her 2 years at the Miriam Center she stole MANY MANY hearts! She has quite the personality. The plan was for her to move out the Mole Campus with children her age (many of who she grew up with the baby orphanage) after her surgery. When we were making the preperations for her to move one of the Miriam Center “Momma’s” Vernicia who absolutely loves her asked if she could adopt Anastacia. After discussion it was decided that this would be the best environment & option for her!!! She will be in our outreach program soley for medical as she will continue to have some medical needs that will need to be met. She is doing GREAT in her new HOME! She loves her siblings & mom. She recently started preschool at the nutrition program preschool. She looks so cute in her uniform & loves school! She stops by before & after school to say hi! She has a FOREVER family & we are so EXCITED for what God has in store for her!

The Following Are Pictures With Anastacia's new Mom Vernicia...She sure adores her!!!

Caleb was always just a temporary family member of the Miriam Center. Some of you may remember the little boy back in April who was abandoned outside the mission gates one morning. He was severely malnourished. I remember the day well is it was the day I had just started not feeling well & so I snuggled with him on the couch most of the morning while they decided what needed to be done. Caleb spent a week in the hospital being treated for severe malnourishment. When he returned He needed somewhere to stay until he was able to move out to the Mole. Caleb ended up staying at the Miriam Center for about 6 months. He stole many of our hearts with his smile. He has gained A LOT of strength over those months and is able to walk with hand held or cruising holding on to furniture or toys. We are all EXCITED for him to be around children closer to his age who will challenge him & encourage him to walk & talk more. God has BIG plans for Caleb. We are so happy for him and the opportunities he will receive at the Mole.

The following are pictures of the day Caleb was Abandoned at the Mission

Sabrina came to the Miriam Center from the Baby Orphanage a little of 2 years ago when it was noticed that she had Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Speech Delays and Developmental Delays. Since coming to the Miriam Center she has gained the ability to walk & run, is able to complete a variety of Fine Motor Skills and is talking more. She has come so far at the Miriam Center and we love her dearly!!! Her sweet spirit is surely missed. We realized that it would be better for her to be around children her age that challenged her to talk more and do more age appropriate skills. The Miriam Center is a wonderful place for children who need extra help to grow & develop but it can also be a hindrence when to children who are above the level that we can offer. Sabrina was at that level. She needed to be around children who talked creole to challenge her to talk. Children who are going to school at her level to challenge her. The Mole Campus better suits her needs. From Miss Beth’s pictures it seems that Anastacia is doing well at her new home in the Mole!!! The MC will sure miss her but we are so happy about the opportunities this will open for her!

The Following Pictures were taken at the Kids going away party