Its been one year since the worst day of my life, last year on September 29th Berlancia passed away, about 2 and a half months after I left Haiti from my 9 month trip there. Its been the best and the worst year of my life since then. SO much has happened in this past year and all of it changed my life for the better.
Berlancia had full blown AIDS and I worked with her all 9 months at GLA. She wasn't on my initial list of kids when I got there the first day, but my second day there, the volunteer coordinator asked me to take her all day as well as still taking my other kids for an hour each. He told me she was a failure to thrive child, and wasn't developing. Every day with her was a challenge, one that I found myself wanting the night to go quicker for so I could have another day with her. She was sick at least every two weeks with a high fever, constipation, and an ongoing ear infection which she had for her whole life. Berlancia's spirit was indescribable. I found myself missing her if I went out on the weekends, and wanting to stay as late as I could after dinner with her until we went up to the house where we slept. I can't imagine where I would be in life right now if God hadn't brought Berlancia and I together for those 9 months, and I also don't understand His timing in taking her. I don't think I ever will. She had an adoptive family, loving parents and siblings waiting for the day they got to see their daughter and sister face-to-face. They never did.
She changed my life more than anyone will ever understand, and my whole passion for Haiti is in memory of her. She was perfect in every way- the way she laughed, looked at me, reached for me, smiled, got jealous when i spent time with other kids. I will never forget her first time standing up by herself, her first steps, the way she yelled at me, the way I went around the corner and waited for a while and would peek back, and there she sat smiling- knowing I would come back. Even when she was sick, I loved how she would just lay on me, and be able to get completely relaxed in my arms. I miss the Haitian staff knowing me as "mama Berlancia" and handing her to me every morning when I walked in, her diaper full and then handing me a clean diaper for after her bath in the wagon. I miss everything about her.
I have no doubt in my mond that Berlancia would have grown up to be a strong, loving and loved person in this world. She fought with spirit and spunk until the end and I will never forget her. She is the reason I am go back to Haiti and has opened my heart to serving others, despite the pain it can cause. In the long-run having 9 months with Berlancia was worth the hurt and sadness it caused me when she died, and still causes me. People ask me if it's hard working in Haiti, its a hard question to answer... only having been there less than a year I've gone through the hardest things I've ever had to, but I've also gotten to experience the most amazing things ever. So I guess it is hard, but after having been there it would be harder living here and not being able to experience those things.
Theres a movie I love called beyond borders, and I would recommend it just for this quote- it sums up my life in a way that is hard to express in words. A man whos life is devoted to working on bettering lives in a thirdworld country is responding to someone's concern about pain in a surgery without painkillers... his response to the woman:
"We drown it. Kill it. Numb it, anything not to feel. You know, when I was a doctor in London, no one ever said 'medahani'. They don't thank you like they thank you here. Cos here they feel everything, straight from God. There's no drugs, no painkillers. It's the weirdest, purest thing - suffering. And when you've seen that kind of courage in a li... - (pauses, tears well up) -... in a child... How could you ever want to do anything but just hold him in your arms?"
That is exactly what has happened to me... and now all I want to do is be in Haiti...
Thank you Berlancia for showing me that courage and loving me. Thank you for teaching me more than any course in school could teach and showing me more about life just through your spirit, I will never forget you.
This is a poem a good friend Rhyan wrote and sent me right after Berlancia died:
Although I was not her mother
I cared for her each day,
I cuddled, sang and read to her
And watched her as she played.
I saw each new accomplishment,
I helped her grow and learn.
I understood her language,
I listened with concern.
She came to me for comfort,
And I kissed away her tears.
She proudly showed her work to me,
I gave the loudest cheers!
No, I was not her mother,
But my role wass just as strong.
I nurtured her and kept her safe,
Though maybe not for long.
And now this time has come,
When we will have to part.
But I know this child I cared for,
Is forever in my heart!
Here is a link to a video Rhyan made for Berlancia... who is now dancing in heaven