Day 5 - 2/22/12 My Friend Louis
He is 14 years old and he is not a part of the Danita's Children orphanage, but he seems to make an emotional connection to every visitor that comes to the orphanage. Louis is a young boy that is deaf in both ears and blind in one eye. Although his home is in Haiti he befriends many of the Americans that enter the doors of the local motel. He is kind, loving and I just lost my train of thought because he knocked on my motel door to borrow my iPad as I was typing this sentence.
During our last visit our hearts broke because we all felt so bad for him. Where are his parents? Do they abuse him? Why is he afraid to go home? From what we had heard he did not get along with his family, but why? We see him with his shirt from the local school for the deaf and his folder full of school work, but why does he never seem to go? After spending more time with him, things seem to fall into place, especially today when I had a chance to visit his home.
He lives in a two room shack with 6 other family members. His life in Haiti, like that of others is rough. There seems to be a lot of tension between he and his mother. His young teenage sister is pregnant and there is no stable father figure at home. His house is crammed with pots, clothes and everything that supports the very basics of living. When he crosses the border and comes in contact with visitors it is an escape. He gets to leave his family environment and eat as much free food as he likes and is also showered with gifts. At the end of the day, by not attending school and leaving his family he makes more financially than most of his family members combined. It is such a tough situation because you feel for him, you give to him and in the end you leave with a little bit of guilt because you know you are enabling him and in turn taking him away from his family.
Well, today was about Luis and a few other special people. We left Dajabon, DR with two goals: #1 to meet Luis' family and #2 to take him to a special event 90 minutes away that I will write about in a moment.
Luis hopped on the back of Pastor Dan's truck and he guided through the town of Ounaminthe to his very humble home. We asked his mother if he had been spending the night at home and to our surprise she said yes. We also asked if everything was ok at home and if there was anything that we could do to help. The meeting itself was uneventful but in the end we asked if they would eat together as a family one night for dinner if we were to provide the food and she agreed. This is something that they are in great need of because when we were there his little sister was cooking about a 1/2 cup of rice for the entire group. His other little sister posed for this picture.
We then took a family picture of them and agreed that we would send it to her as soon as we had it printed. Although we did not accomplish much, we were comforted to know that he did have a mom and a home to go to when times got tough. That feeling alone was worth the trip.
Now comes the exciting part. This monday our friend Bill Waterman heard that a Catholic Church in Cap-Haitian was holding an event offering local patients free hearing aids.
Automatically Luis and three other locals came to mind. With FortybyForty.org donation money we were able to pay Pastor Daniel for the transportation needed to get us there. Thank you all for providing this special gift. When we arrived I noticed that the name of the organization providing the funding for the event was the Starkey Hearing Foundation. If you watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition, founder Bill Austin has been featured on several episodes that focus on the deaf. Louis was fitted for his hearing aid by Bill Austin himself.
It was such a blessing. We were sad to find out that his left ear is completely blown out but he was able to hear some sound with his new hearing aid on his right ear. I can hear him outside my door right now, yelling and clapping, as he adjusts the volume of his hearing aid. We are so happy for him and I just want to thank you for providing the money to get him there. Three others including a young girl from Danita's orphanage were also fitted for free hearing aids totalling close to $1200.
And best of all while we were waiting hundreds of other young Haitians experienced the gift of hearing.
God is good. Please pray for Luis and his family, we will be back to visit them with food, but their battle is much greater than just one meal. We worry about what will happen to him as he gets older and as the cuteness of being a kid fades away he will have to resort to other means to get the same financial results. We are so blessed to live in a country where our children do not have to make these types of decisions. I feel for her mom, not knowing where your son is at any given moment. But that is the reality of Haiti.
On the lighter side we had some other interesting events occur throughout the day. While driving to the hearing aid event we experienced a flat tire. The entire valve blew out of the tire, but luckily Pastor Dan's spare was in great shape.
While we were waiting at the event two of the girls decided to give Erin an extreme makeover hair edition and gave her corn rows.
On the way back there was a sad reminder of what the locals face on a daily basis. Our truck was stopped as we saw hundreds of people following a truck with a child's casket.
The childs mom stopped the truck, and a lady from the crowd helped her by pushing her onto the back. All she wanted to do was lay her head on the white casket. We could feel her pain and grief as we drove by.
The night ended well. Louis had a local church group meeting for the deaf and my parents treated the whole group to dessert at the local ice cream shop. It was amazing to see them interact with each other and it was special to see Louis in an environment where he felt totally at ease.
While we were having dessert a little boy came up to me and mentioned that he was hungry. I asked him if he wanted ice cream and he said "No, I need something to eat". I purchased him two pieces of chicken and some salad at a local diner and then I asked him his age. He was only 10 years old, the same age as my son. I looked at him and I pictured my own son Caleb. I gave him a hug and he went on his way. I took this picture of him before he walked off and his eyes say more than his words did. He not only looked hungry, he looked hopeless, and I don't know which is worse. You just want to fix it all, but you know that you can't. But this week has shown me that when you and your friends gather together, you can make a difference in a few lives with the hope that those kids will do the same one day. Thank you for giving me the present of being able to provide things that I could never do on my own. Thank you for letting me help this little boy and the kids at the orphanages we have visited so far. I am truly blessed!