Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Practice in Patience

So much of our life here in Haiti is a practice in patience.  I would have to say that sometimes we practice it well, and sometimes we fail.  In March, the Lord placed it on my heart to help a little neighbor girl that is blind, Fede Shinailove.  I would see her just sitting around all day because she was not able to go to school.  I found a school in Port-au-Prince that teaches the blind, and so I began a journey to try to get her in school there.  First, I had to convince Kevin that this was something we should do.  Next, I emailed the school to find out more information.  The administrator told me to visit the school to see if they had a place for her.  So, in June we drove for almost 3 hours to visit the school.  They told me that they did not have a place for her now, but to come back in July to see if a place became available.
We were in America during July, so as soon as we returned to Haiti, I emailed the administrator to see if there was a place for her.  He said that if the school accepted her, they would find a place for her to stay, because obviously we cannot travel 3 hours each way everyday.  So, I asked a friend to call the school to make sure that a place was available, and the school said that yes, a place was available, but that we needed to come by the next week because registration was closing. So, we loaded up with the girl, her mother, 2 brothers, a friend, and a translator.  After a couple of hours of discussion, they decided that yes, they would accept the girl for school, but they said that they did not have a place for her to stay.  I was dumbfounded.  How did they expect her to be able to go to the school?  We discussed it for about 10 minutes, and I finally said that I had spoken with the administrator, and that he had said a place would be found for her to stay.  The lady I was speaking with went into another room for about 15 minutes, and then another man came out and said that yes, she could stay, but that it would be so much money.  I said, "Fine.  She just needs a place to stay."  We filled out the paperwork but did not have that much money with us, so they said that when we brought the girl to school at the end of September we could pay for the room and board.  The man told us to return the morning of September 27 or 28 with the girl because school starts October 1.

The morning of September 27, we left our home at 6:00 for the 3 hour drive to the school with the girl, her mom, one of  her brothers, and two friends.  The blind girl had her bag packed, and she was very excited to start this new part of her life.  When we arrived, the lady at the school told us that there was not anyone there to watch the girl, and that she was not responsible, and then she walked away.  I just looked at Kevin with disbelief!  This poor girl was ready to start her new life!  I went in to talk with the woman, and she spoke very rapid Creole that I did not understand.  I did understand that she said, "You don't understand?  Well, I don't speak English!"  She went out to speak with the blind girl's mom, and we found out that we would have to go back home and return Monday morning.  I asked what time, and she told us to be there at 7:00 in the morning.  I told her that we cannot be there that early.  She just shrugged her shoulders and left.

On Monday morning, we left our house at 5:00 in the morning for the 3 hour drive to the school with the blind girl, her mother, her sister, and two friends.  We arrived at the school a little after 8:00.  The lady told us that the people were not there yet.  Kevin and I just looked at each other, this time with belief that yes, this is happening again!  We waited about 30 minutes, and then a lady checked the blind girl into the dorm.  This woman was amazing!  Her arms stopped at her elbows with one little finger on the right arm.  She took up the pen and wrote with amazing penmanship!  Next, she said that the blind girl needed a medical certificate.  We had already given the school 2 copies of a medical certificate, but she said that it had to come from the doctor they have there.  So, we found the clinic and a nurse ushered us right into a room.  But, she told us that the doctor wasn't there.  Another look of belief at Kevin.  We went to the waiting room to wait.  After 10 minutes, they called her into the room, and another 10 minutes later, they had given her a clean bill of health!  Yeah!  One more hurdle jumped over!!

They next took her up to the room to meet the room mom.  She was a very nice lady, and Fede's mom and she talked together a lot.  Then the room mom started going through Fede's suitcase to see what she had to wear.  It was a little sad, because she had so few clothes.  But then, she came to the uniform.  She said that this uniform was all wrong, and she showed us a correct uniform.  It was supposed to be all blue and white checked with a navy blue strip across the chest area with the child's name sewn in white.  The blind girl's uniform had a navy blue skirt and the navy blue strip was across her waist.  The room mom also told her that she had to have two uniforms, not one.  I just felt such a sense of defeat!  What do we do now? I thought.  Well, we had to go discuss it with the lady that I do not communicate well with.  She was saying that the blind girl would have to go home and that she could come back when the uniform was right, and then she went into another room.  Fede's mom started talking to another lady that was there, and she started crying because it was such an emotional time.  We sat there waiting for the first lady for about 45 minutes.  Practicing patience!  At this point, what is there to do, but be patient?  She finally came back and told the mom that the girl could stay there, but that she couldn't go to school until she had the right uniform.  Okay, another hurdle jumped over, but the saga is not over yet!

We went up to tell Fede goodbye.  Fede's mom was crying, and Fede could hear it in her  voice. We all gave her a hug, told her we loved her, and left.  As I walked down the stairs, I prayed to God, asking Him to protect her and to provide someone to help guide her around and especially up and down the stairs.  As we reached the bottom of the stairs, I told Kevin that we had not paid for her to stay there yet.  So, we went back down to the office to let them know that we needed to pay for Fede's room and board.  I handed a lady our receipt for paying for the school and told her that I needed to pay for  the room and board.  She left into another room, and a man came to say that there was no room, that other children had already filled the spot.  But, ah, I was used to this by now.  I very calmly explained, in my best Creole of course, that we had already filled out the paperwork for her to stay, and that we had been told we could pay when we dropped her off.  He left for about five minutes, and came back saying that yes, she had a place, and that we could pay. 

As we left, the greeter, a man in a wheelchair that does not have any arms or legs, said that she was in good hands.  He recommended that the mom come by sometimes to visit and maybe bring a snack or money for a drink.  We asked the mom if she would be able to come by tap tap to bring the girl's uniform.  She said that yes, she could, but I don't think she understood my good Creole, because a couple of days later when I stopped by to  ask if she was going to be going Friday to take the girl her uniforms, she said that she couldn't because it was so far and she didn't have the money.  I asked her how the girl was going to get her uniform, and she said that she didn't know.  I felt so defeated once again.  We went up to the orphanage to ask one of the young men that knows English to come help us translate to make sure we all understood each other.  In the end, we took her to town to buy the material for the uniforms, gave her money to have them made, and paid for her and a young man that knows Port-au-Prince well to take the uniforms to the girl by bus and tap tap.

Praise God, that my heart is finally happy at the end of this saga!!  The mom reported that it was much easier to get there than she thought, and she said that she will be able to visit her daughter once a month.  She also said that the blind girl is happy, happy, happy!  She has made friends with a deaf girl, and they help each other get around.  I am so happy that God answered my prayer for Him to  provide the blind girl with someone to help lead her around!  All of the burden I felt leading up to this point has proved to be worth it.  So many times we were almost willing to give up and say that maybe this blind girl was not meant to go to school.  I know God has an amazing plan for her, because He has provided this opportunity for her.  Please pray for Fede Shinailove. 

Fede at school with her sister, Evania, and her mother.  Praise God she is loving school!!