Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti, Haiti, Haiti . . .

Remember Noah? He is often the star of this blog and if you've read more than a few posts on here you are undoubtedly familiar with him. He's 4 and he's from Haiti.

Noah is amazingly happy and funny and s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n. He still wets his pants practically every day. In fact, at this exact moment he is in the bathtub once again rinsing urine off of himself. I'm 100% convinced that he pees his pants simply because he can. Even though I know that, I still react more strongly than I should each time it happens. And after I react, I can pretty much guarantee that he will pee his pants even more tomorrow. I am trying to learn some patience and some appreciation for his determination. I like to believe that my little Noah is learning something from all of this too.

When I took him to the pediatric urologist a few months ago to make sure that there was nothing physically wrong that was causing his pee issues, I was relieved to find out that there wasn't. The doctor told me that he appears to be completely fine, but she had a hypothesis. We talked for a bit about Noah's history and his rough beginning in this world. She theorized that Noah has decided that controlling when and where and how he urinates is his way of exercising his strong will. She guessed that Noah has a stronger than usual survival instinct that served him well during his first couple of years when some days that is all he had. Even though his stubborn resolve causes some tense moments in our house, I am grateful that Noah is a survivor. If he weren't, I most likely wouldn't be his mom today.

When I visited Haiti before we brought Noah home, I saw some pretty horrible conditions. Most of the people that I saw on the street had nothing. Nothing, that is, except for their own stubborn resolve to keep putting one foot in front of the other. In spite of their living conditions I remember thinking that they held their heads high and seemed to smile easily while dealing with really hard stuff. Haiti does not willingly give her citizens much of anything. Haitians have had to fight their country's tough history, a severe lack of resources, and government corruption that would make guys like Rod Blagojevich shudder. After reading a thorough history of Haiti I remember exhaling and thinking that Steven King couldn't have made up horrors worse than what that country has seen and the best soap writers that our country has to offer couldn't come up with the drama that has enveloped Haiti since before she was even called Haiti. Even still, the people keep moving forward as best they can.

This was my first view of Port au Prince as we were flying in. Much of this area has pretty much been destroyed.
Then January 12, 2010 arrives. Haiti, like a starving man crawling through the block-long potholes simply hoping to survive until tomorrow, was kicked in the head by mother nature. I'm not sure how Haiti or her citizens will move forward after this. A friend of mine mentioned the horror of 9/11 while trying to understand the gravity of what just happened in Haiti. While never wanting to minimize what happened on that sickening day, the thought that came to my mind was that all of the people who emerged from that nightmare had a place to go. In Haiti, there is no place else. I have seen images of naked children walking around in the rubble, stepping over bodies. Can you imagine a child being allowed within 500 yards of that kind of destruction where you live?

I've been trying to imagine what Haiti might look like in 5 or 10 years from now. The island isn't going anywhere and there are survivors who are left to once again pick up the pieces, so I know that Haiti will still be. But what does a nation that already had nothing do now with less than nothing? Imagine a pool of muddy water. Nobody wants to drink muddy water, but if muddy water is all you have you will drink it. Haitians sometimes feed their starving children mud-cakes. Clearly there is no nutritional value to eating dirt, but the moms will tell you that at least their kids might not feel the starvation so much after filling their bellies with mud. Now imagine the muddy water and the mud-cakes buried under tons of rubble. Not even the muddy water and dirt for dinner is an option anymore. I seriously don't know how they are going to keep going. And I don't know how I am going to explain to the grown-up Noah that I will someday know that his dad and I didn't do more to help Haiti. Haiti is part of my son and we owe her for giving him his strong will to survive - even if today that strong will is manifest in another pair of wet pants.

I didn't take this picture, but I saw this scene multiple times as I was being driven through the tangled streets of Port au Prince. Putting some salt with the dirt and water, and then letting it dry in the sun, magically turns what we would call mudpies into food for starving Haitians.
Clearly this post was all about me getting a few thoughts out of my head and into black and white. It's my blog, so I guess I get to do that. If you are still reading and feel like you can do something to help, here are a few links to check out:

The container of food and supplies that was sent down in December was sitting in customs when the earthquake hit. The contents were intended to provide resources to the children for the next 6 months. It's now gone.

American Red Cross:
Text HAITI to 90999 to give a $10 donation to the Red Cross. I heard on CNN that the Visa, MC, and American Express are waiving their processing fees so that the entire donation goes to the Red Cross for Haiti relief efforts.

Doctors without Borders:
The next days and weeks will be critical to ensure that disease doesn't take over. Doctors without borders lost all three of their hospitals. They aren't leaving Haiti though and they need help so that they can keep helping.


Nathan said...

This post is powerful, not just because of the subject matter, but because you have been able to place a personal touch on an already horrific situation.

I appreciate you taking the time to tie your son's personality to his homeland and describing some of the difficult conditions there, even before it was buried under all that rubble.

Sarah said...

Wow, thanks Julie for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You brought tears to my eyes. We have made a donation the the Red Cross, but it's so hard to feel like I PESONALLY myself cannot go over there and do something to help. It really makes me step back and look at my life and how good I have it. And then I just feel guilt and shame for all the things I take advantage of and don't appreciate each and every day.

Julie said...

Thanks guys.

I have come to realize that guilt and shame aren't feelings that any of us should be burdened with. I don't know many people who manage a positive response to such negative motivators. I know what you mean though, because I go there myself sometimes. Instead, just keep doing the best you can do and feel good about the contribution you are making, whatever it is, because it all matters. I know the Red Cross is doing amazing things in Haiti and throughout the world, and now you are a part of that. Cool, don't you think?

Lisa said...

Julie, this is incredibly well said, and brought tears to my eyes. I've been completely engrossed in reading everything about Haiti this last week and my heart just breaks for the people there.