501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

A day in the life of…

My day started out with a call from the states. Jeremy is going to be landing at 10am and he has cholera medicine in hand for you- enough for 20 people. Can you meet him at Avis at 10 am. “I’ll be there”, was my firm response and then I hung up the phone. I looked at my watch. 9 oclock. The day is half way over by 9 in Haiti, but I had been up most of the night trying to keep up with emails, fighting a migraine, making sure the sewing machines were running, and then having earthquake nightmares. I’m really tired and I need my coffee. I go out to the kitchen and find that the propane tank is empty. Bummer. No coffee. I have hit this point just in the last two weeks of my coffee drinking career where it is no longer about keeping a headache at bay.. it is a love relationship. I crave it. None today. I’ll get over it.
It’s going to take too long to drive to the aiport in morning traffic, so I quickly call Important. He gave himself that name for when he one day becomes a famous rap star. Until then, he is my motorcycle chauffeur. He is at my beck and call whenever I need him, so I pay him well. He deserves it. At 19, he has a 17 year old lady and a 1 year old baby and is living in a two man pup tent while trying to finish school. He thinks he already is famous and walks with and air of importance that cracks me up for a guy that is 5’2″.
So he shows up at 9:30 and I hop on the back of his motorcycle and we hightale it down the dirt roads to meet Jeremy at the airport. As we drive, men blow kisses and yell flatteries.. I lean forward and tell Important that they obviously think he is very beautiful. Not catching my sarcasm he thinks I don’t understand. I understand I’m just giving him a hard time.
We arrive near the airport and find Avis. We get off the motorcycle and stand around for a while, and having been in this situation too many times before decide to verify my location. Yes we are at Avis by the airport.. is there any chance there is another Avis by the aiport that is not listed on the internet? OF course there is. Back on the motorcycle. The nice security guard with the machine gun opens the gate for us to go find Avis #2. I don’t even notice guns anymore. We take the dirt road short cuts past the 7000 man tent city just outside the airport and find Avis #2. WE wait. and wait. We wait an hour. I strike up a conversation with Important about why women in Haiti put up with polygamy. He laughs.. I ask him if men ever run out of women if every man has four women. He laughs some more. It’s easier to be a man here. We wait an hour and I call Jeremy’s wife to say I can’t wait any longer. Important needs to go to school. Just then Jeremy bounds up the exit runway with suitcases in hand and hands me enough antibiotics for 20 people. 20 people. This is exciting. I am ready to save 20 lives now. It feels good. He lectures us for a minute on saving some for our family… I get it. We’re no good if we’re dead. Will keep this in mind. I hop back on the moto and ride back to the house, dodging election parades and marchants with baskets on their heads the whole way.
Upon arrival, Ti Sherlie informs me that a man had tried to give his baby away at our gate that morning. The mother had died in the earthquake and the baby had formed such a tight bond with him that he would cry and cry when his father left. He couldn’t work because of it and was looking for an orphanage. Ti Sherlie had given her directions to one of the 10 orphanage houses in our neighborhood. I told her, I wish you hadn’t done that. He could easily work here and bring his baby to work with him. That’s why we do what we do. She slaps herself on the forehead. Next time there is a parent wanting to abandon their baby so that they can eat… she’ll remember.
We spend the day packaging, tagging, boxing jewelry for jewelry parties all over the world this Christmas season. We have made it to at least three continents- including Asia. It’s exciting to see what has happened in a year. Makilen just put money down on land. It was just December last year that she showed up with her baby covered in scabies and looking for an orphanage for all five of her children. Now she is buying land with two small houses on it.. one for her and one to rent. She works so hard. She deserves it. Chrislene got married-was able to mostly pay for her wedding. Several of our boys have paid for school for themselves, people’s kids are in school this year. It is what we’re are about. Making it possible for mom’s and dad’s who love their kids to be able to keep them and raise them well
As the day was winding down, I made a trip over to Delmas 91 to the Three Angels Children’s Relief center. Jack and Marcia Nonweiler ran a stellar orphanage before the quake and have been doing all kind of awesome relief work since. They approached me a few months back about partnering in their microloan program with some of their women. The partnership is great. We get to train and work with some of their ladies and get them going on jewelry and they help market these ladies (and many of our too) in their circles of influence. It is a win win situation. I think I got the better end of the deal though because Jack just happens to be a doctor and has already been there for my family and some of our ladies on several occasions..
It is always a pleasure to see Jack and Marcia and after visiting with them for a while made my way back home to my beautiful children and pizza night. Corrigan is a gourmet cook if you didn’t know and we collaborated with my pizza dough making skills and his pesto, thai food, and alfredo sauce making skills and had what the kids call “weird pizza” night. One with peanut sauce, carrots, beansprouts and chicken, one with alfredo, chicken, spinach and broccoli and another with pesto sauce, arichoke hearts, spinach and cheese. UNBELIEVABLE. I pretty much gained 15 pounds in the kitchen there, but that’s ok because I just have to hop back on the motorcycle with Important to get my self-esteem back up.. cat calls in Creole have a ring to them you know… Ahhh.. time for bed. I’m sure I left out three quarters of the day.. probably the parts about the electricity going out or the five million people knocking at the gate asking for a house, or the six children bringing me cereal boxes from the tent cities for money to eat. A satisfying day I’d say.

  1. thanks for this "glimpse" Shelley..a day in the life…it's amazing what is being accomplished through your obedience. Thank you for being an inspiration and an example. Hugs…

  2. What a great project. I love that is it working to keep families together.

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