I had thought long and hard about what kind of a child I wanted. Some of you know that Eric and I had lost a child before Tanner. She would have been 7 years old now. Just a year ahead of Tanner in school. So I thought it would be a nice memorial to her to sponsor a child. A 7-yr-old girl going into the first grade. Surely there were plenty to choose from..... or so I thought. :o) There were only two girls this age and going into the first grade. Roberto had told me we could visit both families and see their needs and then I could choose if I wanted. Well, after laying awake talking to Eric in my sleep I discovered my answer. I told Roberto it just wouldn't be right to visit both girls and only pick one. How would that make the other girl feel? I couldn't do that to her. So, I picked Smeralda and that was that. Roberto had told us about Claudia's family too and how poor they were and how much they needed. That was all Kelsey needed to hear. She didn't need to search the many photos, she wanted Claudia. So, off we go.............
On our drive to Smeralda's house we had a little 'car trouble'. The truck just quit right in the middle of the street. Now I know where all the abandoned vehicles come from on the sides of the road and in people's yards. lol All we could do was pull it off the road in an old abandoned Texaco station and start walking. After watching 5 or 6 men stand around and discuss what they thought was wrong with the truck we started our hike. After all, they're certainly not going to take any advice 4 American women could offer up about car trouble. ;o) I told Diane when we left the house something was wrong with the truck.... I could hear it. She laughed when we broke down that I would be able to tell. Too bad I haven't figured out how to fix them yet. I think Taylor's short-lived time on the Ag-Mechanics team should have been on big engines.
So, who cares, we're walking again. Getting to know the village and the people. It's easier to learn and see when you're walking among the people instead of driving through at the speed of light. (maybe not quite that fast but sometimes it feels like it) lol
Our first stop was Smeralda's house. We were only about 10 blocks away when we broke down. Off the beaten path, through a small alley, that became even smaller the farther you walked. We passed lots of kids playing, lots of trash, people urinating on the walls (not an unusual site in Haiti). When we finally reached her house we were greeted by her great aunt who was home. She sent some of the neighborhood kids to find Smeralda and tell her to come home. We were offered the best chairs from the house as they brought them out and set them around the porch for us. When Smeralda came through the gate Roberto interpreted for us telling her why we were there and how much we were looking forward to being her sponsor and how proud and honored we were to be able to help her. We received lots of hugs and took lots of photos. Taylor had made friendship bracelets for Smeralda, herself and me to share. We told her how wearing them would remind us of her everyday and how we couldn't wait to come back to Haiti and see her someday and we looked forward to her letters and hearing her progress in school. I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to have this little 7 yr old climb on my lap and give me a hug and a big smile. How wonderful it must have been in her home that night sharing the good news with her momma when she came home. My children get excited over new video games and movies, Smeralda was excited to be able to go to school and not have to worry about how to pay for it.
Time to go to Claudia's house! Which was quite a walk in the opposite direction. Roberto shared stories with us as we walked along. Listening to the chatter of the people in the street and Roberto told us different times what people were saying. And, other times, told us he couldn't repeat what some of them were saying. It wasn't proper. Yes, they were talking about us and calling us names I'm sure. One woman I greeted even spouted back with an emphatic "SUCKAH!" I told Roberto if I would have been on top of things I would have yelled back, "God Bless You!" But we were laughing too hard. ;o) Lots of kids yelling "blan blan!" White white! Taylor has learned her creole good enough she talks back now.... "My name's not blan! My name is Taylor!" lol She never ceases to amaze me. lol :o)
After a small hike we came to the bottom of a little mountain standing in a dry creek bed. Looking up the hill Roberto explains this is where we're going.... uh, okay. Kelsey headed up with a hand from Roberto, Taylor had her boots on (smartellic kids), I decided to go barefoot. I have better grip with my bare feet than I do with slippery flip flops! Diane brought up the rear making sure none of us came rolling back down! lol
At the top of the mountain Roberto keeps watching the sky just to ask Claudia's mother if we may take shelter under the awning to her house. There was a storm coming and here we are stuck on top of a mountain. The rains came, the children came running up the hill and through the straw dividers of the wall bringing in laundry, tossing in little baby brother, water pails. They move fast and work hard. I was in awe to see little kids not much older than Tanner carrying containers of water up the mountain, older kids about 8-10 carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads. I grumble carrying two buckets by hand to the barn, and here these kids are packing it on their heads! Oiy... I feel so spoiled yet again.
When Claudia arrived home Roberto shared with her why we were there also and she was very shy but grateful as she gave Kelsey a hug and took her picture while Kelsey tied on her friendship bracelet. Roberto laughs at us sometimes for crying. Although he definitely means well and thinks we have big hearts, he just likes to try to make you smile through it all. :o) We could tell Claudia's family was much more poor compared to Smeralda and had lots more brother's and sisters. Smeralda has one younger brother. Claudia has 6 or 7 siblings. What a difference those mouths make when you are trying to feed your family. Some of Claudia's siblings were malnourished and wormy. So we decided to take some medicine back to her family the next day.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. We had to walk through the construction site at the river because the bridge is out. We are so proud of Diane with her fear of bridges that she managed to walk across this little wooden plank bridge to get to the other side. It's been a great day!!! How could it get any better? Maybe an internet connection so I can share with my friends and family?! Like that's going to happen..... lol :o)