Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jenny: From Cleveland to Indy to P-Town (3-27-06)

We’re on our way back from Indianapolis, having picked up five-year-old Jenny. Her Cleveland-area host family met us there. Jenny may be breaking a Haitian Hearts record for shortest length of stay in the United States. She arrived here on March 8, had her PDA fixed in the cath lab on March 10 and will be arriving back in Haiti on March 29. John and I are escorting her back.

Jenny had a rocky time when she first arrived in Cleveland. She wouldn’t wear a seatbelt, cried and screamed a lot, and was generally a wild child. “I’ve never had a child that I’ve brought from Haiti act like that,” said John after witnessing her run around the cafeteria at the Ronald McDonald House, out-of-control. Someone said, without elaboration, “She can be vicious.”

It doesn’t help that she has a terrible ear infection, which causes pus to drain from her left ear. John said the infection is so bad that it could be beyond the scope of antibiotics and may need the intervention of an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Jenny has only a thin layer of hair covering her scalp. It has been cut close to her head because of ringworm. She has gold studs in her ears and is wearing a navy blue jumper with embroidered flowers at the hem and black mary janes with white socks. Her top front teeth look like her permanent ones and one of them is chipped giving her a kind of tough look.

Jenny has definitely benefited from the civilizing touch of her host family. Their four daughters took Jenny in one hour shifts and all the attention seems to have done her good. When the host parents and Jenny pulled up at the Taco Bell where we were waiting for them, she gave me a big, happy smile through the van window. This was before she knew she was going with us, though. Then some unhappiness ensued. She cried when Dorothy put her in the car. But it only lasted for about 15 minutes. She quieted as I read her “The Cat in the Hat.”

During her short stay with us, she vacillated between clingy, tearful, quietly satisfied, mildly oppositional—she liked any attention she could get and she responded to John’s threats much more quickly than mine—and a little goofy. What probably helped is that we were able to convince her we were in the process of taking her to her home to "Mama Nadege." In fact, when she was crying in Creole, “I want to find my mom,” John asked her if she meant her white mother, thinking she wanted Dorothy, her host mom or her black mother. She said her Mama Nadege.


Jorge Gajardo Rojas said...

I write from Chile.I am very worried about Haiti social conditions.Tell me why a country so near of USA,Canada and Mexico is so poor?What is going wrong in haitian people.I am veterinarian but I worked all my life with peasant in my country and think what I can do for haitian peasant?.
Thanks for your blog.

Maria Carroll said...

This is a good but difficult question. Haiti is the only country in the world founded by a slave rebellion. From its very beginning other countries were not helpful to Haiti, something that has continued throughout the history of the country. As U.S. citizen, I feel very shameful that, as you say, a country as poor as Haiti is so close to the United States. Things are very bad, but I believe there is so much potential in the Haitian people.

I think that it is good you are working with the peasants in your own country. I think one thing you can do is educate yourself about Haiti. A good book is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kiddor.

Also, I believe Chile is contributing to the U.N forces here. Learning how Chile can best support Haiti would be helpful too.

Thank you very much for your interest in Haiti and for reading my blog.