This New York Times article about Haiti's struggling orphanages is an eye-opener. It explains a lot about the daily challenges of caring for orphans in an impoverished country.
This quote from a Haitian mother is just plain heart-breaking:
"So many women do not have jobs. They do not have land to grow food for their children. If their choice is to watch their children starve or give then away, they are going to give them away, and hope that they have put them in good hands."
My own daughter's birth mother made that tough choice. I'm grateful to her. And today I'm incredibly sad for her.
Were those Americans who tried to take Haitian children out of the country abducting them or adopting them?
THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM A LIFETIME OF BLACK HAIR CARE AND A YEAR OF HAIR CARE ON A LITTLE TENDER-HEADED GIRL:
1. Don't use a comb. Use a wire-bristle brush. (combs really hurt, believe me); hold her hair very tight near the root when you brush it, so it won't pull on her scalp as much; take your time, and do a little at a time; be VERY SENSITIVE to her protestations. She's not acting. It hurts.
10. Remember that it's a process. Be both sensitive to her cries and patient with yourself.
photo credit: flickr
There are ways that your donation, no matter how small, can have a big impact. They are not via the huge bureaucracies, but via the foundations who have long histories of accompanying, trusting, and strengthening the grassroots groups which, in Haiti, are the only ones who have ever made a sustained difference.
These are small foundations that know that the only thing that ever works in Haiti is for people to have control over their own rebuilding, over their own communities, and over their own needs and destinies. These are the small foundations who understand that the best that they can do is strengthen those groups' capacities and strength with funding, infrastructure, and technical support.
The need today is of course enormous and overwhelming. Even the UN and Red Cross have no idea how to respond to a calamity of this size.
Past the urgency of everyone now getting food and water (which will not happen) and the wounded getting care (neither), what will be needed is what the Lambi Fund called today "second reponders." That involves rebuilding the efforts that were under way to move Haiti "from misery to poverty with dignity," as it is known there.
That is the slow, careful work of helping grassroots movements get back on their feet, reclaim what they lost, and move forward - both individuallly, and as organized movements working for change and justice. The two groups listed below bring respect, trust, and integrity to that process.
Perhaps some of you who're still considering where to adopt from will choose Haiti....
When the walls of their suburban Port-au-Prince orphanage came crashing down, their caregivers counted their blessings that no one had died. But then their attention turned to the harsh reality faced by the dozens of owners of the orphanages that dot Haiti's capital -- finding food and shelter for the poorest of the poor, the children nobody wanted.
A. thinks she's okay.
But she LOVES her new Dora doll. Dora has long, straight brown hair -- hair that A. spent the entire holiday break brushing over and over. She told her grandma, "I don't have pretty hair."
Meanwhile, Cecille sits forlorn on her bedroom shelf. But she's there, and that's what matters.
In fact, the other day A. whipped off her winter cap and said, "I want my hair to blow in the wind."
And when it did, she laughed, full of delight.
A. was so excited! She had her own ten dollars to spend at the school's book fair. Her teacher took the entire kindergarten class to the school's lobby and there each child got to choose whichever book she wanted to buy.
A. is an aggressive friend-finder!
This is just week two of kindergarten and she already has a "best friend." Mind you, it's not the little girl she played with all summer and whom we requested be in her class. It's a brand-new friend, and it's all about her, all the time.Of course I like that she's making new friends quickly, but I also feel more is going on here. I feel she grabs onto other children with desperation, as though she can't quite trust that her bond with them will form naturally, over time. That old friend she already has? Not enough. She needs a new one in place, her insurance policy against loneliness -- or being alone.
This story got to me the most -- the knowledge that every week, Ted Kennedy spent time with his reading buddy, Larenai Swann. Larenai could be my own daughter sitting there with the "lion of the Senate." It certainly personalizes him.In so many of the tributes to Kennedy, there's a sense of wonderment that a man who'd endured so much tragedy could still have a zest for life, could still find joy and laughter and time to read with a little girl. Could still give so much of himself.
"The Kennedys counseled us for half a century to be optimistic and to strive harder, to find the resilience to overcome those inevitable moments of tragedy and desolation, and to move steadily toward our better selves, as individuals and as a nation."That quest to move more steadily toward my better self is what made me, a woman who'd lost so much but been given even more, to adopt a girl from Ethiopia. I know loss; and I also know how much you get when you give.