Monday, February 6, 2012

Haiti Day 2 - Rise Up!

Rise Up! Rise Up! Into the arms of Love. The more I see, the more I know that we are here to live in the Beauty of the World.” These were the words we chanted back to a group of women that greeted us with song . There is so much devastation, poverty and trauma here in Haiti but there is also beauty; beauty in the eyes of the Haitian people.
Today was a day spent with Fonkoze and Zafen. Fonkoze is Haiti’s Alternative Bank for the Organized Poor. Zafen is the micro-enterprise arm of Fonkoze. For all of you who supported me throughout this challenge, know that a small business loan was granted to a women’s coop to expand upon their tilapia fish farming business. We visited with several groups of women who clearly are back on their feet in business successfully due to these loans. We attended meetings to listen to how the system works and how they meet to exchange the money they owe. Through these loans these woman are in business for themselves, ultimately to feed their children and themselves. These businesses are unlike the businesses we know. Not your Trader Joes, Gap or Starbucks. Not even your local mom and pop or local yoga studio J. This is so they can sell on the street. Similar to a cart or a box you may see a vendor carrying at a football game selling beer except that vendor will for sure receive a paycheck. Here, it’s sell what you’ve got to survive. No sale. No money. No money. No food.
Let me also explain that these meetings are no ordinary US boardroom meeting. We were outside, greeted by song, hugs and kisses. Children were in attendance. Although there is business to take care of, this is a time to boost morale and keep these woman on the upswing; feeling empowered and to never give up. We also visited the site of the fish farm project and met with the women and president of the group. Through this business these women and families have a better and maybe even a little bit easier life.
Lastly, we visited one woman (the one in the picture) at her home (tent) who just gave birth to her third child TWO DAYS AGO! The baby’s name is Blondie (that’s how it sounds but I am SURE not how it is spelled!), a beautiful daughter. Now, again life as we know it does not exist here in Haiti AT ALL. She gave birth in her tent by herself but then only to find help from her agent (the person that is helping her through Zafen).
Her umbilical cord was cut with a blade. She was up and at em talking with us holding her baby hoping for a better life than this. I held Blonde in my arms and looked into her beautiful, innocent and pure eyes and wondered why? Why you and not me? Not at all do I wish for a life like this but how does it work that this little girl is born into such poverty and I was born into a comfortable hospital; into a loving supportive family who sure! had it hard at times, but my parents were always able to have a roof over our heads, put food onthe table, clothes on our bodies and shoes on our feet. I think about how we (including me!) have baby showers and receive a ridiculous amounts of goodies, nighties, formula, diapers, swings, pack and plays, high chairs...the list goes on. I had two of my three children in hospitals with nurses and doctors. How can one have SO MUCH and another HAVE NOTHING? It breaks my heart. It makes me angry and at times guilty. Someone once told me that by me having more doesn’t mean that others have less. I disagree. I will always do what I can when I can even if it’s for only one person. When I asked to hold Blondie, her mother said to me that I am family and the same as her. When I gave her back her daughter I told her that we have something in common. That I, too gave birth to one of my baby’s at home just like she did at home (even though it’s a tent, it’s still her home). We both had strangers, yet family at the same time deliver our babies. I am honored to have met and held Blondie today. I am blessed and grateful for my wonderful life. If only others were so lucky.

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