This has by far been one of the hardest transitions back to Haiti.
I’ve been trying to go at the same 100 mph pace I’ve been living at the last four years but trying to also slow down and treasure this sweet time with Rubie Jo.
I’ve been whispering to myself “slow down” but at the same time I feel this new sense of urgency to keep going 100 mph in order to help all the mamas around me.
This past week ten women showed up at the Tytoo gate asking for me. I had planned a meeting with three of them, so when ten walked through the gate you can imagine how surprised I was. I had no idea what I was going to say to them. I knew exactly what they were going to ask for: jobs and help. And, I knew I really had nothing to offer.
The women filled a small wooden bench, each of them touching shoulder-to-shoulder. I sat down in a plastic chair before them with Mami Sarah (our head Haitian mami at the orphanage, who also helps me and Lindsay with the Starfish Program) feeling a sense of defeat settling down deep.
One by one they told me their name. One by one they told me how many children they had. One by one they told me they have no hope because they have no way to provide for their children. One by one they told me how desperately they needed jobs. One by one they told me about the tents they and their children live in. One by one I looked them right in their eyes.
The last woman answered all my questions; I closed my notebook and closed my eyes. And this…this is what the Holy Spirit led me to tell them:
“I have two things to tell you today: First, you all know I just recently had a baby. Having this baby has changed my life. I’ve lived in Haiti for over four and a half years and I’ve seen and learned how hard life is here. I look at my baby and I cannot fathom how any mother would ever be able to abandon her child at an orphanage gate because she couldn’t take care of him or her. I know how much I love my baby girl and I know you all love your children the same.”
They all nodded in agreement. Judelande, a mother to three, sat in the middle of the bench and locked eyes with me with a shy smile on her face. I don’t now anything about her past and she knows nothing about mine, but I felt this deep understanding between the both of us in that moment because we both knew how much we love our babies.
I continued, “I want to be able to do everything I can to help you all take care of your children, because I never want to see a mom have to leave her child at an orphanage. Nothing breaks my heart more than this reality. Thinking about having to leave Rubie at an orphanage because I couldn’t take care of her is so unfathomable…”
I talked about God’s justice and how I don’t understand it sometimes. I talked about how I wanted to stay in America with my baby and not come back to Haiti because I knew it was going to be really hard for me. I told them the only reason I was sitting in that plastic chair before them was because I want nothing more than for them to be able to take care of their babies.
Tears welled in my eyes and they stayed quiet as I felt all of our mama hearts take a big ol’ sigh together, because, let’s be honest, the beautiful burden of motherhood is not always easy. And on this day all I could do was look these brave women in the eyes and share this burden with them, all the while having absolutely no idea how we would move forward!
I ended by saying this:
“I’m sorry I don’t have anything to offer to you today, but I have seen and I have looked all of you in the eyes. I will not forget you as I have seen you and have heard your struggles. I will continue to fight for you and your families every day to the best of my abilities.”
And while they may have been disappointed I couldn’t offer them anything physically, I did see a sense of relief in some of their eyes as I believe that sometimes all they really need is for someone to really see them. I felt like the Holy Spirit needed me to reassure them that they are seen and heard and never forgotten.
I say all of this because it’s Thanksgiving day and while we all count our blessings, I’m choosing to see the burden of these women needs as a blessing instead of an actual burden. I felt blessed as the Holy Spirit led me to share very honestly with them this past week, hoping that at least one of them, if not all of them, felt seen and heard by our Father.
People, it’s that time of year where I struggle so much. I miss celebrating the holidays in America, but I also despise our society for the amount of abundance we have around this time of year. The abundance of food. The abundance of gifts. The abundance of spending money on things we don’t really need.
Really, I just want to be a part of something bigger this holiday season…I want to be a part of something that involves these women who feel lost and unseen. Women who have to scramble each and every day to fill their babies’ stomachs. Women who live in fear each time it rains because a single rain could devastate all of their belongings in their tattered tents they call home. Women who are equally as blessed as I am with the beautiful burden of motherhood.
I want to be a part of something that changes the world. Something that brings that hope, the hope which gave us a season to celebrate to begin with. Something.