Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nothing is impossible

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Nothing is impossible
Imagine this....a mobile learning center.  What do you think of? A large van painted with cartoon characters blaring fun music and carrying books? Well, think again. For the past two days, we have been the mobile learning center. Both mornings we have packed the pickup truck with three fold up tables, four boxes of laptops and another box of other computer accessories. With this in the bed and at least six people on top of it, we have travelled to three orphanages. 
Each orphanage has had a different personality. Jimmy bonos (the one I mentioned in my last post) is crazy, wild, and a frenzy of activity. The foundation for promising children of Haiti is much quieter, smaller and a little more reserved. And pascals is an orphanage for children with special needs.
We brought the mobile learning center to all of these homes. We set up tables with laptops and a crazy amount of extension cords hooked to a traveling generator and also hooked up to some kind of network. Each child then has a log in name and gets to sign on to a fun imagine program. They each have a little set of headphones and watch and play games designed to help them learn to read and speak English! They learn capital letters and are asked to sing if you're happy and you know it in English. The computer even records them singing and plays it back to them. All the children from itty bitty to 13 or 15 are captivated by this.
At the foundation for promising children, it was our first time bringing computers. To see the sheer amazement in the children's eyes was incredible. Grins stretched across their faces as they watched children in America play soccer and say hello and goodbye. As volunteers we got to work along side them teaching them how to use a mouse and what it meant to click something. I got to work with a little boy named blackson. He couldn't have been older than three and he had somehow not been paired up with a volunteer so when I found him he was just sitting at the computer, head phones on, but not quite tall enough to reach the mouse. He was also the last one on our list for the morning. I went over scooped him up and put him on my lap and we started learning the letters A and M. Blackson was enthralled by it. My mouse teaching skills were not too great since he didn't really get the idea of moving the mouse side to side and up and down, but he sure as heck mastered the art of clicking. He clicked away like no man’s business. He also sweetly and incredibly repeated back everything that was said in the program. He sounded out letters and said apple and mask. And of course a huge smile crossed his face when he got to build his own monster! 
The mobile learning center is incredible. It’s on a weekly schedule so that the kids have a set time when they know to expect it and it's set up everywhere from the front porch of houses to underneath a tent outside.
I loved teaching and helping these kids. Some of them are phenomenally quick on these computers and fly right through it. Richie, one of my little guys, was so so fast and it made me wonder where he will end up in the future. I hope that incredible potential finds opportunity. The sheer delight in learning was another brilliant moment. How often do I take my education for granted? How often do i take the education my children will one day get for granted? These children do not get to go to school so they literally yearn to learn. And lastly, who would have thought that any of this would have been possible? We had over 12 computer stations set up in the middle of poverty stricken orphanages and we are teaching reading and English in Haiti. Another reminder that the resourcefulness of Haiti is beyond anything I have experienced and another slap in the face reminder that nothing is impossible. 

To die alone

Posted by Alice Thursday, August 11, 2011

To die alone

I wonder if any of us have ever worried about dying alone. I think it's a fear for some that we may die and no one would know or no one notice, but have you ever worried that you might struggle with a disease and die slowly by yourself? I know, morbid, and especially this early in the am (it's 7 here) but this what we encountered yesterday.  

We spent our morning at Mother Theresa's Home for the Dying. I'm sure many of you know of Mother Theresa's work in Calcutta with the dying and sick. Well, she has came to Haiti to start a similar home in port au prince. She reportedly was at this home on her hands and knees scrubbing the floors in preparation for the people to come.  

The home is home to more than 100 people of all ages. They have a men's section and a women's section with rooms with about 25 people. The rooms are small with metal beds closely lined up together. It is warm and muggy, but for the most part there is not a feeling of sorrow or sadness that surrounds it. It's not old's people my age, younger, and only a handful older than my parents..and they are dying with no family, no friends, no loved ones to take care of them.  

Our visit started with Rebecca the director prepping us for what to expect. As she talked to us, her boys both said mom and pointed behind us. A person was being carried out on a stretcher, sheet atop their body, dead. A sobering sign of what this home was really about. It was our task, we were told, to give dignity to the dying. And so with a couple of tools in hand, we stepped into there lives.  

We knelt on the floor and cut finger nails and toe nails and painted them a beautiful pink. We sat in beds and gave massages gently rubbing their backs, their feet, their hands. We handed out cool baby wipes for them to wipe their faces down and cool off just a little. We hoped to be a source of love, comfort, and care to these women.  

Many of the women had children and many were younger than me. It was sobering and completely saddening. Many have illnesses that could easily be cured or life sustained in the US but here they cannot. With no family, no one, they come here. They are gentle and they smile and they are kind, but it  saddened me deeply.

My morning ended meeting an elderly emaciated woman and having a chance to comfort her in what I am sure was one of her last days in this world. Nothing can prepare you for the emotion that comes with such an act. A humbling, privileged act of love that I was able to share because she allowed me to and God brought me to.  

It was a morning that will go down in the history books of my life as full of moments that I had no choice but to rely on God, to believe that my tears were prayers and signs of grace, and to take a hold of the love that I can give as transformational and sustained by the spirit.