Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who's fault is it then?

Part of why it's been so hard for me to return home after being in Haiti is because I have to leave kids that I love. When I was at GLA, I cared for Berlancia the whole 9 months I was there. Every day, all day for 9 months. She was failure to thrive and had full blown AIDS when I met her. She was weak and behind developmentally. I loved her more than I have loved anyone in my life and when I left it was h.a.r.d. Then, about 2 months after I left, she died. I can't even describe how difficult that was for me. The guilt I felt for leaving was tearing at me and I hated myself for leaving when I didn't even want to. Everyone and their mother said they were sorry and that it wasn't my fault. That made it worse. If it's not my fault, who's was it? No one's? If I would have stayed, would she have lived? Who knows. If she was meant to die anyway then I just prolonged her suffering. She didn't have a mother to fight for her. I had the privilege of getting to fill that role for 9 months... then I left. I know that it wasn't my fault in the sense that i didn't cause her death or give her HIV or anything. But I did leave. Berlancia had a family waiting. An amazing, loving family. She would have had brothers and sisters and parents who would have taught her to walk with God. She was healthy- walking, laughing, starting to talk.

That family since has adopted another beautiful girl from GLA, who I also worked with. I don't have a single doubt in my mind that God planned for that girl to be in this family- they are a perfect match; but I can't help myself from thinking... what if. What if I had stayed and Berlancia hadn't died, and she had made it to the states and gotten the best medical care available. It kills me. So if there's that chance that I could have prevented that outcome by staying until she got home, then why isn't it my fault for leaving? I don't blame myself. But I think too many of us brought up with no doubt that we will have access to anything and everything we will ever need look at others who don't have that luxury, and overwhelmed by the needs, we justify not going above and beyond in helping and truly giving our lives and hearts and money, and whatever we can away because it really isn't our faults. We didn't choose for these kids/people to be suffering. But we CAN help. And when there is a need presented, if we get scared and turn away and say, well is not like we caused it, right?.... but what if we don't prevent something from happening that didn't have to.

When I left RHFH for Christmas, Nickenson (the little boy I had been caring for for 4 months) had a surgery for an abscess. He died on Christmas day. I wasn't there. I could not have done anything to prevent his death, but the person who he recognized and who loved him the most at that time in his life was not there.

I left Haiti yesterday. A little girl who had been living with me for the past couple weeks, Marie-Rose, died this morning. I don't blame myself but I also know that there was a small chance that if I had stayed she might have lived. Even if that chance was .00000000000000000001 percent, I wasn't there.

I have struggled with leaving Haiti every time and I know that me being there doesn't change the big picture. I am not solving the core of Haiti's problems. I am getting more out of my time there than anyone I am working with. But when I leave, and the kid that had been doing so well dies shortly after, how can I not wonder- what if...

Every time I have talked to anyone about trying to decide whether or not I should finish school, there is always the "you will have so much more to give" comment made. I get that. If I become a doctor I will be able to save people that would have for sure died without my expertise. If I became a Physical Therapist I could enrich the lives of people who otherwise might not reach half the potential they could have. But I have a passion for malnourished kids, and when I have lived with them and seen how much a place like RHFH can do for those kids, and that I can be a part of it, school just doesn't seem that important. Tomorrow, 16,000 children will die from hunger. There is plenty of resources to save their lives, but still, they will die. 90% of those kids would get better if someone fed them 3 meals a day and loved on them. There are the kids who need IVs, and more intense care... but malnutrition, despite the epidemic it is in third world countries, has such an easy solution: food. The work of caring for malnourished kids is never ending in Haiti. With all the amazing organizations and causes in the world working to save malnourished kids, how are there still 16,000 kids dying EVERY DAY.

I don't foresee in my lifetime all of Haiti's children having 3 balanced meals a day. Maybe I have lost hope, I think I am just realistic. I feel like God wants me home this year- I don't regret my decision to come back because if I had stayed, even if Marie-Rose had lived I wouldn't have felt like I was following God's plan for me. But imagine how weird that is for me- could it be that if I hadn't followed God's plan for me that Marie-Rose might have lived? It just doesn't seem right. But thats just it- this world is SO wrong, so full of sin and so unfair that there are people suffering as a result of how others live. I want to give God my all- that may include going to school even if it's not the first place I'd rather be. I don't know why, but I am going to give it a shot. I figure if I am home anyways I might as well go to school. I am hoping God gives me either a passion for a major that will allow me to give more of myself or give me peace in not finishing college. I feel like the world sees school as this enriching, enabling thing, and i just can't get on that bandwagon. I think knowledge is necessary to grow, but if we don't learn through Christ with a passion there's no point. Just like giving to others is something that makes us grow, but there is no point if it's not through Christ.

Friday, July 9, 2010


"You've changed." A phrase that has been thrown at me more than once since Haiti came into my life. People change... it happens. Life experiences change who we are, even if we don't recognize it. One of the hardest parts of going back to the states after living at GLA the year after high school was being able to relate to people. I have never been an emotional person or super good at really being able to listen to people, and since I've lived in Haiti that part of me hasn't gotten any better. The truth is, I could care less about so many things that I used to care about or even try to care about. When people complain about how tired they are or how long the line was at the store or the terrible traffic they sat in and so on I have a resentment toward them and toward their complaints. I think about an 11 pound 3 year old still fighting for life, or a 2 year old so dehydrated she barely has the strength to breath in-between vomiting worms and nonstop diarrhea; and 25 year old women with her limbs swollen because she couldn't feed herself and her children so she chose to feed her kids; and people who have lost everything and everyone and still have smiles on their faces to greet you, and the kids who died because they were just too far gone when they finally reached the clinic.

Sometimes I resent the US for all it has and for all other places don't have, and I try to detach myself from the "rich white girl" label because honestly, in my mind, it's embarrassing to me to be that (when I say rich I mean food/clothes/school opportunities/house/necessities have always been available and a constant for me). I hate that I have everything handed to me on a silver platter but at the same time I don't reject any of it. I love that I have options in life but the guilt I feel for falling short makes me defensive toward recognizing that; because I know how much others work and would kill to have what I have. I feel guilty for what I have been given and it's hard for me to adjust back into my privileged life in the states.

The worst part is how hypocritical I am in it all. I complain about stupid things all the time... I do the same things with my time and money that I get bothered by when other people do them. I fight with trying to lead a "normal life" when I go home and feeling guilty for everything "normal" I begin to do after a while. It's hard finding a balance between trying to get back into life in the states and feeling like Haiti is not being forgotten. My point in all this is: yes. I have changed. I will have a hard time adjusting. I will sound and act like I hate the US at times. Really, I just hate myself for not yet figuring out how to use my privileged life to help others. Last year was the hardest year of my life. Truth is, I am out of my comfort zone in the states any more. Socializing and being anywhere without a sick kid to take care of is hard and unrewarding to me. I have a hard time finding purpose outside of Haiti. Long term goals seem so hard to take part in when I have been blessed enough to be a part of the day-by-day fight for the life of some amazing kids. I feel like going to school makes me just another person to check the Successful Education bubble off the American Dream checklist; but I realize that if this is God's plan for me, to finish college, he will be able to use me even more than now. A good attitude is harder said than done.

I know a bad attitude toward life back in the states did nothing for me last year, and after the earthquake I anticipate it being even harder to leave where I feel completely at home. I want to make the best of what God has given me and work in and through Him wherever I am. I leave Haiti on Tuesday and it will not be easy or fun, but a good attitude could make all the difference in this next year. A lot of people think I don't want to share about Haiti or seem to think it is a sensitive subject. Truth is, it's my life- it's all I think about, dream for and love... I wish I could continue to talk the way I do here about things, but the culture and lifestyle in the states is so different that it's hard for me to share with people who have never experienced Haiti. Talking about babies dying as a normal occurrence is not normal in the states... the way I am with kids is different here than with kids in the states. The things I deal with on a daily basis here are things most people in my life have never had to think about... sickness, caring for kids whos limbs are so swollen from kwash that they are splitting open, maintaining IVS, cleaning up who knows how many diapers a day full of diarrhea, teaching(which I have loved), dealing with kids after they die, forcing kids to eat, trying to bond with a kid who has been neglected for years, waking up to feed kids every night and checking to see if they are breathing every time I go by them. These are the things that have become my normal- and I LOVE every minute of this lifestyle because God has given me a huge passion for the kids here.

I want to share that with my friends and family at home but at the same time I feel weird talking about my life here because it makes so many people sad or unomfortable- and then I feel like I am misrepresenting Haiti. Haiti is one of the most beautiful, most rich places I have been and I have been blessed immeasurably by my life here. I want everyone to know and see that but first I have to be comfortable sharing with others when they ask... I was not able to do that last year for many reasons but I am praying that I grow in that area. If you wouldn't mind praying for me as I adjust I would appreciate it so much. I am excited about what next year will bring and don't want a bad attitude to get in the way of whatever God has in store for me. I have changed, and I hope to continue to change as God breaks and molds me... it's just hard going back and being a different person in a life that in many ways is the same as when I left.

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