“…. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:32
Hi! This week another child was added to the family here at Coram Deo. This child is just like the prodigal son. Reginald Jules was one of the original handicapped children in our school program back in 2000. When his aunt had brought him to us for help with his visual problems we had taken him to an eye doctor who said that nothing could be done to improve his vision as his eye problems originated in the brain. He was almost autistic and was a handful for his aunt. His mother didn’t treat him well and the aunt took over his care and raised him along with her other son Samuel Masseus. He started school here back in 2000 but wasn’t too eager to learn. He would rip up his paper and break or throw away his pencil. He had behavior problems as well. He would not willingly sit in class with the other children. Gradually things improved over the years. He lived at Coram Deo with his older cousin/brother Samuel until the school was transferred to another mission. Samuel left to live at the school and Reginald lived with his mother and aunt. Reginald continued attending the other school but problems began in his life. Several people came up to me and explained how they would see Reginald begging on the street for money. I thought at the time that this is how he decided to earn some money. This continued until July when one day I saw him in front of the One Stop grocery store on Delmas. Reginald told me later that he purposely stood near the pick-up truck so that I would see him. When I came out of the store I saw him and went over to say hello. I asked him what he was doing and he replied that he was just waiting for someone. That someone I found out later was me. The next morning he came to Coram Deo and stood in front of the gate. I drove out and saw him there and said hello and went on to where I needed to go. He talked with Manu and asked him to talk to me to find out if he could make briquettes. That evening Manu told me about the conversation and I told Manu that if he saw Reginald to tell him that he was welcome to come and help make briquettes. The next morning Reginald was back in front of the gate but the older guys wouldn’t let him inside as I forgot to inform them. Reginald stayed by the front gate until I got home and then let him in. Since then he has come early every morning and left in the late afternoon to go home. The children had a discussion one day and I overheard Reginald saying that nobody tells him when to get up in the morning or to go to bed at night. I figured that he just didn’t want to listen to his aunt. I didn’t find out until just this week that home was the street. Reginald told the guys that in the afternoon he didn’t go home. He would sleep overnight somewhere on the street in the back of a tap-tap or anywhere that was convenient. When I spoke with Reginald he told me some sad things. He said that his mother doesn’t want him and kicked him out of the house. When he was getting ready to start the school year he saw his mother and asked if she could get him some clothes and she told him to go away. He said that his aunt didn’t want him around anymore either. Reginald lies sometimes so I didn’t know what to believe. Lukner went with him to his aunt’s house and she came yesterday morning to talk. She confirmed that it was true that Reginald has been on the streets since January. I got her approval for him to stay here but I also want to work on improving his family situation. I told him that he would need to visit his aunt every week and that I would send someone with him to make sure that he arrives. It is good to have Reginald here. He is a handful but I think to where he was in the beginning and where he is now as a big improvement. He has gone from the child who couldn’t do anything to one who is still going to a local mission school and learning. This is why handicapped children need a lot of patience. There are a lot of mission schools focusing on helping the strong academic children to help form leaders tomorrow but we are focusing on helping handicapped children fit into Haitian society. Junior is acting like a big brother for Reginald. I think they understand each other as Junior too lived on the streets for 3 years. This week was tough for Benson too. All the talk of living on the streets made him remember of his ordeal living on the street with his crazy mother. He was crying one night remembering it. He told me that his worst fear was the rats that scurried around him at night. Pray for the children who live here at Coram Deo and that this could be a refuge for them and a place where they have structure (now someone tells Reginald when to go to bed and when to get up) and a family. Please continue to pray for the funding of our programs here at Coram Deo so that we can continue to provide for them.
October 17th is a national holiday here in Haiti – “ La Mort de Dessaline” (The death of Dessaline). Dessaline was one of the heroes who died fighting for the independence of Haiti. 19 of us piled on board “Kimosabee” the pick-up truck and headed up the mountain to go to the Baptist Mission, Fort Jacques and Fort Alexandre. The children had a fun excursion and enjoyed seeing the zoo at the Baptist Mission. Their favorite animals were “Fifi” the monkey and the crocodile. At Fort Jacques we had a good view of Port-au-Prince below us. There were many people there enjoying a festive time at the fort. We then walked up to Fort Alexandre, which is just a short distance away. I let the children walk ahead and took some pictures. I noticed that Manu was waiting for me just before we got to the fort. Off the path was a bull that was tied to a bush. Manu had a worried look on his face. When I got close he seriously told me that I must stop and remove my baseball cap. I asked him why and he told me that it was the color red and this is a dangerous color when you are near a “toro” (bull). If the bull saw this he would charge. I took my cap off and asked him what happened if I would wave the cap at the bull. He had a shocked look on his face and told me not to do that. He made sure that I hid it by my side until we finished walking by the “toro”. The bull didn’t even pause to look at us as we walked past. When we finished scrambling around the ruins of Fort Alexandre we took a different path away from the bull to make Manu happy. We headed back to Fort Jacques and went into the pine forest there (part of the 1% forested area left of Haiti). There was a logging stand set up where workers saw the logs into boards. I was just showing the children how they cut the logs when there was a clanging sound and everyone took off to see what the commotion was. So much for the lesson on logging. What captured everyone’s interest was the “Walking Dead”, a street play on the lives of those who fought in the independence of Haiti, especially Dessaline. These walking dead people explained the history of that time period. I took pictures and put it on the blog to show some scenes from the play. We then headed back down the mountain. Yesterday night Manu and Benson came up to me and informed me that they didn’t enjoy seeing the “Walking Dead”. I told them that it was their own fault. They should have stayed and listened to my logging lesson in the forest.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo