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Waking Up to Bright Sunshine at OI Haiti

The sun rises early in Haiti, casting its golden rays over the landscape as the day begins anew. By 5:30 a.m., the sounds of laughter and chatter fill the air, signaling the start of another day at OI Haiti, home to Orphans International children.

Jacmel, Haiti. As I slowly awaken, greeted by the eager faces of a dozen children peering through the doors and window of my room, I can’t help but smile. To them, I’m the “white guy” who has been a part of their lives for what feels like an eternity – a comforting presence in a world marked by uncertainty and hardship.

The aftermath of the hurricanes has left its mark on this resilient community, with challenges ranging from water shortages to the absence of electricity. Yet, amidst the adversity, there is a sense of resilience and hope that permeates through the air.

Breakfast is a simple yet satisfying affair, featuring fresh avocado, bananas, and toast, accompanied by the comforting aroma of hot coffee. Despite the lack of formal schooling, the children eagerly engage in household chores, their laughter echoing through the halls as they go about their day.

As I attempt to write a report amidst the chaos of small hands tugging at my sleeves and curious eyes watching my every move, I am reminded of the profound bond that exists between us. Despite the language barrier, their laughter is a universal language that transcends words.

Parenthood, albeit unconventional, is a journey marked by moments of laughter, frustration, and unconditional love. My simple command of “Stop!” may seem insignificant, but it signifies a boundary that is respected and understood by all.

As I watch the bustling activity around me, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and pride. These twelve Haitian orphaned children have become a part of my extended family, their resilience and spirit serving as a constant source of inspiration.

In the midst of rough conditions and daily challenges, there is an undeniable sense of joy and fulfillment that comes from being a part of something greater than oneself. At OI Haiti, we have not only changed the lives of these twelve wonderful children – we have changed the entire universe for them, one moment at a time.

As I try to write a report, I am amazed at the number of small hands touching my ‘strange’ body – combing my funny hair, rubbing my arms. In the sweltering heat my patience finally wanes and I use the one word I am training our kids to know while I struggle to remember words in Creole or French. But they get me every time when pressed I yell, “Stop!”

Of course they howl in laughter, as they do for almost anything I try to say or do. I admit I exaggerate my abilities to dance ad sing, but I sadly do no exaggerate my insufficiency with their native languages. Part of me yearns to stay for six months, being tutored daily in French and Creole.

But there is too much development work to be done in New York – raising money to pay for it all – I must return shortly to take charge. So at the moment I have no time to really learn their language and my English “Stop!” must suffice. It works – they stop eating my peanuts, using my deodorant, and not shaving their heads with my electric razor!

I am waking up at OI Haiti where we have helped to change the entire universe for our kids and it is a sensation that trumps almost any other feeling I have ever had. The noisy roosters outside mirror the shouting in my heart of pure joy. Rough conditions or not, we have twelve incredibly wonderful children.

Waking Up to Bright Sunshine at OI Haiti. Published originally in OIW Blogspot, Sept. 21, 2008.

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