Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ti Raje

It’s official…I am in love! I have fallen, head over heals for a sweet, sweet boy. I have told you of "P" a little boy who was left outside the main gates of GLA in January. He has stolen my heart so quickly that at moments it still takes my breath away. Such a tiny boy, who has experienced so much but is completely filled with joy. The wonder and excitement I see in his eyes every day forces me to step back in true amazement. He has so many reasons to be sad, or angry or to just plain shut down. But he has done none of that. He is in love with life! Here is a baby who had everything he had ever known and loved ripped away from him in one single moment. A child who was starving to death in the arms of a mother who loved him fiercely. A little boy who, when left on a blanket on the side of a dirt road, had no choice but to watch him beloved mama walk away, because he lacked the strength to even crawl after her. And yet, he is a baby who looks directly into my eyes and beams when I speak to him, who screams with joy when I tickle his sweet little neck. A child who eats every meal in complete wonder, smacking his lips and finishing every bite. A little boy who comes to me for cuddles and clings tightly to my fingers while boldly walking wherever he wants to go. In the 2 months that I have known P he has changed my life entirely. A tiny baby has opened my eyes and pushed me beyond my limits. He has caused me to look into my own actions and has made me want to be what I never thought I could. Because of his passion for life, I want to live with a purpose. Because I have seen his past and the way he has grown, I face the challenges set before me with joy. Because I have seen the way he loves, I am determined to love those around me more. A tiny child, who if he had died in Haiti would have been just another number of their future lost, has become the face of the work that I do. I know him by heart. When I sit downstairs and I hear children crying in the nurseries above me, I can immediately pick out his voice. He calls me Mama.

Please understand that I know that I am not really P's mother. God had planned the family that he will join well before he came into my life. But at this moment, to him I am the security and love that he has always known. The nannies here call him Ti Raje, it means Little Forest, they call him that because his mother left him beside the trees that line our wall. They still talk about that day. They shake their heads and state sadly “his mama threw him away”. Yesterday, when this subject came up again as the ladies were shaking their heads and clicking their tongues, one young woman quietly whispered to me, “She remembers him.” There are some, like me who see that what P's mother did was not an act of unkindness but in fact deliverance. To see Ti Raje on his first day here, I could see that he would not have lived much longer in his mother’s care. But to speak to him, to look into his eyes there was no denying that he was loved. He craved having someone talk to him, because he had known that in his life past. No mother holds her child for more than a year, speaking to him, playing with him and whispering her love to him, throws her baby way. P's mother found a place where she knew her child would be taken care of and brought him to that place. It is known in the community that the children at God’s Littlest Angels are adopted to other countries. She would have known that bringing him here would have meant giving him up for good. How many sleepless nights she must have paced the floor, working up the courage to do what she knew she had to. How many tears must have fallen for the son that she couldn’t keep. It is situations like these that are the hardest for me to face. Haiti is a place where, no matter how much they are loved and wanted, children are forced from their parents arms. My heart is broken for these families torn apart. A little boy, breastfeed until he was 10 months old, brought to us starving to death, because his mother hadn’t eaten in days. A 3-day-old girl taken from the arms of her father, while tears rolled down his cheeks, because her mother was dead. This country is broken, with no sight of repair ahead. These are mothers, fathers and children who struggle everyday to stay alive. These are parents who love their children so fiercely that they will do anything to sever the cycle for them. I am so thankful for the courage of the families who bring these babies to us. I am so thankful for the families who wait…16…18…28 months for a broken government to approve their files and come and take these babies to a new life. But how I pray it wasn’t necessary. I don’t know if that will ever happen. It seems to me that things are getting worse, not better. But will I give up praying…Never!

I have been in Haiti now for 8 months. In that time my faith has been tested, almost broken and now renewed. I have been ready to give up. I have gone through weeks of numbness. Moments where I was just waiting for this time to be over. Days where I had no passion left. The last 2 months were the hardest, and then the greatest of my life. There came a point where I made a conscious decision that I was not going to allow myself to wander aimlessly anymore. I needed to wake up, or I needed to leave. I cried out to God like never before. I was lost, and doing no good in a place where I had opportunities all around me. It took my shortcomings being pointed out to me by a dear friend for me to realize what I was letting happen. I was here for a purpose and I let that purpose get away from me. I let the focus turn from the passion of my heart, to my own selfish desires. I cared more about my comfort, than the lives being lost around me. Watching this spectacular child that God brought into my life has opened my eyes. I didn’t have a warm shower…he didn’t have a meal. I missed my family, so did he. I let myself fall so far that it has taken me a lot of work to crawl back up. But the passion that I had was never far lost. Now that I have allowed it back in my heart it has overtaken me once again.

It is absolutely unimaginable for me to think that I will ever leave Haiti. Yes someday my body may be somewhere else. But my passion will always be here. My heart’s work will always be for the broken lives in this place. A child who has captured my heart has inspired me and I will never be able to erase his face from my memory. God used a baby, starving and desperate to catch my attention and he has succeeded. Now I leave it up to Him, once again to do what He pleases with this life committed to Him.

January 2009

March 2009