How Haiti Stole My Heart; A Mother’s Day Story

Posted by on Jan 21, 2013 in Blog, Educate, History | 0 comments

IMG_0073We marked the third anniversary of the Haiti earthquake recently and it is time to get this blog going again and share with you all the amazing experiences that our G.A.P. kids bring to the world.  I think about how I naively stepped off the plane on January 27, 2010 and had no idea how deeply Haiti would touch me. I remember being struck by the warmth and humility of the people we were working with on that first trip as they stood in line for hours at a time, wounded and sick amid the dust and rubble. Every single person I spoke with on that first trip had lost an immediate family member to the quake.  Yet, when I asked if they had a message for me to carry back to the States, the response was unanimous; Mesi Anpil thank you very much…for caring about us and coming all this way to help us. (Huff Post reference)

That experience would lead to more than a dozen trips in the next three years where I would find myself overtaken by compassion for the plight of two young girls who had been orphaned by the earthquake and were struggling to survive under a tarp on a muddy hillside.  They scrambled for food and water in the days and huddled together in the nights as they heard the sounds of rape and other violence just outside their shelter unsure if they would survive.  The courage of Joselyne and Josianne to tell their stories and ask for help is unimaginable in the midst of a camp of 50,000 displaced desperate people.

When I first heard their story, a chill ran through my body and I knew that I had to do something and that I could not un-know their plight and hope that someone else would help.  Fortunately,I was not alone.  There were other relief workers with big hearts who wanted to help.  Other volunteers were already looking for resources for the girls.  A group of Irish midwives pooled all their remaining cash at the end of their relief mission and asked that it be used to help the kids.   A local employee of the camp where we were working had a sister with a small apartment that coincidentally was available for the exact amount the mid-wives had left.  It was the first of many miracles/coincidences that showed us we were on the right track.

Soon after the girls moved in to the apartment, it became apparent that there were five more siblings in this family.  The girls had been reluctant to tell us because they thought the assistance would be limited.  Within a few months, we met more kids needing the same kind of help and the apartment became more crowded.  I knew that we had to formalize our organization so that we could generate tax deductible contributions and get enough support to feed, clothe and pay for schools.  I was aware that although we were starting in Haiti, there were adolescents all over the developing world who were too young for adult  services and too old for children’s assistance.  We returned to the United States and Global Adolescent Project was born.

On a recent trip, I was in the car on the way to the aeroport in Port Au Prince at the end of another action packed visit.  We rounded the corner of the statue of Les Trois Mains, a sign that we were getting close to my drop off.  The kids often argue about who will accompany me to the airport and it was Shaba on this trip. I put my arm around his shoulder and said, “Oh I hate when I see that statue because it means that I will soon say goodbye to you again.  He puffed out his chest anddismissed my comment,saying, “Don’t be sad, Mom…you’ll be back soon..you always come back…and anyway you have to go back so that you can hunt for us!”

Couldn’t say it any better, Shaba. I am a hunter and each of you who reads this can help me gather resources to help our kids learn, grow and work.

On this Mother’s Day, honor your mother by clicking the donate button at www.globaladolescentproject.org

Mesi anpil!Tamara (housemother) with Marie Mika, Geraldine and Francisyou