Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Today is my last official day in Haiti. Tomorrow I fly at 3 PM.
I'm finding it very difficult to express how I feel.
Haiti has been such a challenge for me. And for some reason Mizak falls hugely into that category. Not because of the lack of electricity or plumbing. It was the calm. It was like taking a deep breath.
For those of you who know me well, you will know that I am an incredibly high intensity person, so Mizak forced me to face myself.
In Port au Prince I could disappear into the chaos. The streets were full, the orphanage buzzing with children, the hostel swimming with volunteers and the noise from the streets. That's how I like it.
In Mizak I felt an overwhelming fear of my own mind that I have rarely felt before. And I believe that to be an incredibly wonderful thing. It reintroduced me to who I am.
I think of every period of my life almost like a dream. When one learning experience ends, another begins; this dream has been especially awakening.
Mizak brought me back to Haiti in the first place. Over my ten days there last spring I knew I'd be back. Why was that? Because somewhere in the crevices of my mind I knew that it was time to begin a new dream.
So I have to thank everyone there. I have to thank Lee and Gabrielle and Jersey. If I listed them all this post would never end. The red dirt, the corn, the quiet.
Dreaming, growing never ends. I am leaving Haiti behind me (for now), and though I feel grateful for everything it showed me, and excited to use these new tools in my life back in the states, my heart is breaking. And I mean that in it's absolute fullest definition. If there even is an adequate definition for such an emotion.
I am in love with Haiti. I am in love with the crazy of Port au Prince, and I am in love with the stillness of Mizak. The sight of raging traffic jams, and the smell of paint in Lee's house.
From red dirt and almond trees, to murals on chalkboards drawn by 23 laughing children.
What a beautiful dream to have lived.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What To Live For

I'm back in internet land again. Can't say I'm particularly happy, I miss Mizak more than ever and it's only been one day. I don't want to imagine what leaving Haiti will feel like.
This isn't going to be an uplifting blog I'm afraid, but this is something I need to wrote about.
In Cite Solei (the slum) several people were killed this week. Several of these murders were very brutal, and that's all of the detail I am willing to go into.
What I will say is that at least three were children.
I was sitting at my computer hanging out in Jason's (director) office when Samuel (ground manager) came by to tell us this. It was only about halfway through their conversation that I really began paying attention. I asked if it was due to elections and Jason said...well not really.
Jason phrased it in a way that I wish I could capture in better detail, but I'll try my best.
Sometimes when people live in such a brutal area, like a slum, it may feel as though there is nothing to be living for. Like actions don't have real consequences.
When you have nothing to live for, you lose your respect for human life. If you don't care about your own life, why would you value someone else's?
You kill because you can.
Maybe it makes you feel something, when everything else feels like nothing.
We, as a western society, do not understand, can not possibly understand this.
I am sitting here at my computer, listening to classical music on my phone, and three miles away people are in a slum being shot at random. And for what? For nothing.
I know where my next meal is coming from, I know that I have enough water to bathe myself, I know that there is a wall surrounding the premises of the hostel I am in, and I know that I am safe.
But everyday I take that for granted.
I don't have to use the street as my toilet, and I don't have to worry if my child is going to be killed by some stranger who needs an adrenaline rush.
I've been living in Haiti for ten weeks, and yet I still have not fully appreciated the life I was given.
Think about it: when was the last time you took your eyes away from your phone, or your textbook, or the clock ticking away the hours left at work? When was the last time you looked out at the world and thought about how amazing it is to be living the life you have, when billions of other people have it so much unfathomably worse?
I'm not trying to sound angry, I'm trying to make a point.
We read the news everyday. We know what goes on in the world (kind of), but does that change the perspective we have on our own lives? It should.
We are so lucky to have what we have. To have been dealt the hand that we were dealt.
We are blessed.
Your potential is endless, and you have everything to live for. So live for something amazing. Don't take anything for granted.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I am sick.
I don't mean heat stroke, dizzy sick. I mean sore throat, running nose, headache, haven't gotten out of bed for 3 days sick. Hence my absence of blogs. Which, unfortunately will continue because today I take the bus back to Mizak, the wonderful land of no electricity. Which I quite enjoy. I don't really have a lot to say seeing as I've been MIA from the world for awhile now. I emailed the director of the orphanage with all of the requests from the kids, and I look forward to helping her more once I am back in internet range.
I'll be in Mizak eight days and Lee and I hope to get quite a few interviews in with different orphanages and parents who gave their children up for adoption. So when I get back I will catch you up on that.
So I hope everyone is doing well, and I apologize that this is such a brief post.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Am Grateful

Yesterday some of my friends who are staying at the hostel this week went out and purchased four live turkeys: Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots, Louis XVI, and Ned Stark. We let them outside for the night and gave them a dinner of apples and corn mush.
This morning four brave men of our group volunteered to behead them. I was the only girl present. I felt that it was respectful to the turkeys. I thanked each one before it was killed, closed my eyes for the actual killing part, and told the guys how brave they were.
Now I'm going to write about what I am grateful for:
I am grateful for the privilege to have traveled to Haiti, and to have met such wonderful, kind, driven people. I am grateful for the sacrifice these turkeys made. This has been a journey out of a dream. It has brought up emotions I didn't know I could feel anymore, and has taught me not only lessons about the world, but lessons about myself. I fully embrace each day, the good and the bad. Each day is another step into the adventure of my life. I choose to find beauty in everything. Today I will appreciate eating turkey in a way that I never have before; I will understand and appreciate the animals. They are no longer and object you buy at your local store, already plucked with their insides pulled out. These are animals, and rather than letting it disgust me, I will embrace this experience. I am grateful for life, and I am grateful for the acceptance of death.
Today I will have Thanksgiving in Haiti.
I Have a challenge for you: sit down, make a list of what you are grateful for. Actually write it and see how much of the paper you fill. I guarantee it will be a lot. I have more that I will record later, but I don't think they all need to be on this blog. It would be a very long post.
Thank you all for being a part of my life. And as always, Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nearing the end

At the moment I am sitting in the shade of a mango tree. It is warm in the sun, but in the shade cool enough to wear a cardigan. There are different colors of flowers blooming around me, and hummingbirds buzz their delicate wings as they attack the centers of hibiscus with spindly beaks. Innumerable butterflies swim through the air like it is liquid. I see the shadows of other birds soaring too high above for me to pick out beneath the leaves. A breeze is gently ruffling my dress and wafting floral scents my way. This is the base of HC (the hostel). How lucky am I?
It's not Mizak, but with my headphones in, playing classical, soft piano music I can find a similar tranquility as that tiny town up in the mountains of Haiti.  
Yesterday I visited CHOAIDS and asked every child what they wanted for Christmas. Each one gets one gift. With Johanne helping me to translate we made the list. I will now send it to the director (Marie) along with any donations I receive.
It was wonderful to see the kids, to see their faces light up as I walked in. Unfortunately I won't be going back to CHOAIDS. I'm doing the work that I can accomplish for them here. It is difficult to try to focus on wiring money and communicating with Marie when I don't have access to internet or my computer. I feel that I can do more good here than I can sitting with the kids some more. Not that I didn't love my time with them, but now I need to buckle down and work.  I need to use the rest of my time in Haiti to do as much as I can to make a lasting impact.
The first month of my trip, I focused on the kids. I focused on being with them, drawing with them, attempting to talk with them. And I do believe that was productive. But there are many aspects to cover, and hard as it may be for me to end my time with them, I see that there is more I can do, and I have to do it. I have to help them experience Christmas.
I'll do what I can, while I can.
On a different note, I am going back to Mizak on Monday for eight days. Lee and I are working on a book project focused on the orphanage system in Haiti. We are visiting orphanages in a neighboring town to Mizak called Jacmel. It is a larger city, don't get me wrong, it's tiny compared to Port au Prince, but their are many orphanages located there. We will do some interviews. Once I am home Lee will begin writing out segments on what we learned, and then email them to me so that I can add my point of view, and edit once I am back in the states. We already kind of started when I was in Mizak before, but we hope to get much more done this round. I know we will.
Then it's back to Port au Prince for 3 days, and then.....*drum role*...home. Oh my goodness. Home? What does that even mean anymore? Port au Prince is my home, Mizak is my home, Haiti. Haiti is my home.
I am so afraid of what it will feel like once I'm walking through that airport and back into Portland, Oregon. This has been such a journey for me, So life changing, as I knew it would. I'll end here because I am sure that before I leave Haiti I will revisit this subject.
Anyway, I'll write again. Tonight or Tomorrow.
Is it cold there???
Hah. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to properly feed you Haiti.

So before I begin I just want to fill you in on the Christmas things for the CHOAIDS kids situation.
It is way easier for me to just buy the gifts down here, rather than hauling them all back from the states with me. So I had an idea: There are 23 kids, each needs a gift. What is we did a sort of sponsor program? Anyone who is interested could donate however much they feel is best for one child. Then you don't feel like you have to empty your pockets, you know? I could write about the gifts I got and maybe make you feel more involved? I can't really get bios of all the kids, but if you're curious, check out our website: CHOAIDS Haiti. That's all you have to google. You could drop the money by my mom and she will deposit into my account dedicated to the volunteer work I am doing on this trip. I do that because I do not want anyone to feel that I am spending their money on things for myself. I assure you that I would never EVER spend any donations on anything except for the kids. I hope that goes without saying. Obviously you can donate to sponsor more than one child if you want, totally up to you. If we don't get them all of them covered I'll just cover it.
So anyway, I just wanted to put that out there. Any donations help, I've got 23 kids to shop for. I'll talk to them about their interests but obviously I'm not going to do anything extravagant, present wise.
Okay, I'll tell a story now.
In Haiti, for families with limited means, food is very expensive. No matter how frugal you are. So when you are presented with food you eat it all. If you don't eat it, someone else will. DO NOT WASTE FOOD.
This goes for kids more than anyone. Don't ever let a child go hungry if you can help it.
One day I walk out of the house to a very interesting sight. Gabrielle had Kerry laying across her lap on his back. The child is screaming as she is virtually waterboarding him with porridge. As she shoves another spoonful into his already full mouth she explains to me that she made the mush, and then he didn't want to eat. So she had no choice. "When your child don't want to eat, you do this." She gestured with the spoon at Kerry. Soon Filo and I were both watching, all of us laughing, them at how ridiculous they thought the child was being, and me in pure shock at the entire situation.
"Sadie, when you have baby you can bring him here and we will help teach you how to make him eat."
And I'm thinking "....Hmm....".
After a few days I became desensitized to this. After all, it is their child, their culture, and I came here to fully embrace Haiti, however different the culture may be.
One day we were readying Jersey for school. She still had to eat breakfast and be bathed (we use buckets with a cup to pour the water over our heads. That's a shower. Quite fun actually.) Anyway, I was given the job to feed her. Her breakfast that morning was boiled potatoes chopped into fairly large chunks. I'm spooning them into her mouth because if she's allowed to eat by herself she goes too slowly. Gabrielle walks by and says "Hurry! Hurry!" in creole. So I'm shoving the food into Jersey's mouth so quickly that she can barely chew. I'd pause and motion for her to chew faster. On the last spoonful I shoved it into her mouth and sent her off to bathe, still with her cheeks bursting with potato.
At home when I am nannying and it's dinner time I say things like "Okay, take one more bite of your PB&J, then you can be excused. Good job! I'm very proud of you."
Here it's "Eat your mush darn it!"
Because like I said, in Haiti, food is expensive, and you have to feed your kids.
Just something I found interesting. I will write again tonight with a story of my day.
Until then...Have a great day everyone. And keep CHOAIDS in your minds for Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Today's story will be based on my newest friend here in Haiti: Gabrielle.
Gabrielle is the daughter of the woman I was staying with, Filo. We were in a two bedroom house, one for me, one for Filo, Gabrielle, and Jersey, and Kerry (Gabrielle's children).
Her children and her sleep all in the same bed together, and yet she kept trying to get me to sleep there too.
Her nickname is Ti Madam, "Little Miss."
She's 25 and has a four year old daughter and a five month old son. Jersey's dad left when Jersey was born, but he brings over the occasional bag of food for her: cornflakes, condensed milk, crackers.
Ti Madam was with Kerry's father for a year before she got pregnant, then for three months this was all very exciting for both of them...until he decided he wanted someone different.
So she's back with her mom now. Kerry's father comes to see his son maybe once a week.
She was the only one in the house who spoke any English, so we tried our best at communication. Here is an example of a typical conversation between us:
At the market looking at some little donut cake things.
G: You want some?
S: Sure, which one is better?
G: They're both made of batter.
S: No I mean which one do you like more?
G: You want more?
S: No...
S: Do. You. Like. Both?
G: Yes we can get both if you want.
Ti Madam took it upon herself to find several suitable men for me to fall madly in love with. They were very persistent. One of them came to the house every evening, always complimenting me on my shirt. Which was usually something like a dirty tank top or sweatshirt. After awhile I would grow weary of the attempted hand holding, and feign a headache, explaining that I simply must  go to bed early.
On top of that, I had been telling Ti Madam that I didn't usually eat a big breakfast or lunch, so she shouldn't worry too much about my food. Her family does not have a lot of money.
She became very concerned, thinking that I was a frail, sickly person in desperate need of nourishment.
When I insisted that I wasn't hungry she settled for making me juice with lots of sugar added instead. When dinner rolled around I was served platter size amounts. Soon I was helping her cook breakfast and dinner everyday.
I was paying them 100 dollars a week for me to stay there (they refused to let me pay more) "You're my sister!" Gabrielle would exclaim. She spent the first 100 in the market with me (which is a story of it's own) stocking up on carb rich foods.
Staples in Haiti: Rice, beans, ground corn, spaghetti, potatoes, hotdogs.
So we got a lot of that.
Ti Madam is a very good cook. She went to a culinary school a few years back. She began teaching me a new recipe each day. Sometimes two. We would wait until filo was finished with the coffee making, and then take over the cookhouse. She would explain things to me like "And NOW we make the water!" Pouring water into the pan, or "Butter, but not so much." Scooping out a spoonful.
I went to bed each night feeling as though I had just experienced thanksgiving. Seriously, they fed me like they were preparing me for surviving the apocalypse.
After I finally explained to her that I didn't actually want a boyfriend, we fell into a different evening routine. We, Filo, the kids, Ti Madam, and I, would all pile into their one bedroom, lit with candles and flashlights propped on various objects. Jersey would sit on my lap while Ti Madam rubbed Vaseline into my hair and braided it into elaborate styles. Filo held the baby, or sat watching as Kerry dozed on the bed. Then Ti Madam and I would lay haphazardly across her bed and cuddle the kids. Me playing tickle games with Jersey, and her bouncing the baby in her arms, cooing at him.
One night we were talking. She was telling me about Kerry's father, how much she had loved him. And how after he left she had cried and cried everyday, for her and for her baby. I told her that when I was sad I sang myself a little song, and it went like this:
Don't worry,
about a thing,
Cause every little thing,
Is gonna be alright.
She loved this so much that she had me recite it with her until she sang it "perfectly". Then I wrote it down, just those four lines, on a piece of paper and tore it from my notebook. I gave it to her. After that she carried it in her pocket everywhere.
The soundtrack to my life in Mizak soon became the crying of a baby and Ti Madam singing "Don worry..bout a ting...cause every little gonna be au right."
Sometimes I had to take a break from this and go to Lee's.
Anyway, now you've met one of my best friends in Haiti. I'll post some pics soon.
P.S. I've chatted with her on the phone everyday since I've been back, starting the night after I left. She called me in a panic to make sure I was alright.