Paige wrote this after a day serving as a translator more than a year ago, she finally broke down (read: under intense pressure) to allow us to post it.
a beautiful soul, written by paige
Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to see the good in people.
Admitting that is embarrassing, because I sometimes allow things that do not matter at all to hinder my ability to truly see beautiful people.
Today, I met a beautiful person; I met a woman with a beautiful soul.
She was sitting and waiting for her turn to enter into the dentists office...Waiting and waiting, as we often do in this country.
As I was standing next to her, she looked up and said that she had been there since morning, and needed to get home to her children. This woman seemed to be at least 60, it was clear she had a few years of hard life under her belt. Curious, I asked her about her children. She told me she had seven children. We shared a little moment over the fact that she has seven children, and that I am one of seven kids. I asked her how old they were. She mentioned four older children, and three younger children. Because of my non-stop questions, she went on to explain that the last three were adopted.
The oldest of her three adopted children is named Moses. Again, we shared a moment when we realized we both have a little boy named Moses near to our hearts. She explained that this little boy was abandoned in a toilet, and she went and pulled him out. We again shared a moment over our connection through abandonment. Moses has lived with her as her son since the moment she pulled him out. I asked her if Moses knows that he was abandoned. She said no, that he was too young and didn’t yet need to know the cruelty of this world. I admired her wisdom. Her second adopted child is the son of her husband's mistress. The biological mother of this boy abandoned this little boy on the street as well. Knowing the connection her husband had to the child, people nearby brought the little boy to her; it seems many know of her beautiful heart. She willingly took him in as her son. The third adoption was that of a little girl who lost her mother in child birth. My new friend, with the beautiful heart, took her in as her daughter as well.
I admired her so much for the stories of adoption and pain and loss turned into service and love. I admired her also for seeing her children as equals. If I wouldn’t have kept the conversation going, and sought out information- I would have never known that three of her children were adopted.
To so many people adoption seems to be a synonym for “not real children/siblings,” or “charity cases”. None of those things were true for her though. These children were her children. They were just as much her children as her older four. She was so beautiful.
Shortly after my exchange with the brave mother of seven, a woman on a short term mission team started asking me about myself and my family. This is a confusing conversation for most people. I usually take a deep breath prior to answering. After asking how long I’ve lived in Haiti, how old I am, etc, the next question I often get is, “How many siblings do you have?” I answer, and say that I am one of seven. Each time, I get the same look. The "Wow!” look. It gets old after the first few times, because this is my family you’re “oh wowing” at, people. I get that we are weird, and different than most families, but still, come on, don’t act like I just told you that each of my siblings has extra limbs. Next, they ask how old my siblings are. I say, “23, 11,11,9,6,5” , without fail they ask if the 11 year-old siblings are twins. I answer and explain that no, they were adopted along with the six year old. Then, they get this “oh that makes sense” look and then comes the so you don’t really have seven siblings, because three are adopted comment. At times people have even verbally respond with something like — "oh so you have three real siblings?" Also, "Do your adopted siblings travel with your family, or stay in Haiti?"
Each of the questions seemed to aim at separating out my family by the adopted kids, and the non adopted kids. To them, there is some important difference to be noted. I don’t know the difference. I have six siblings, and each sibling is the same to me. I love each sibling with all of my heart, and would do just about anything for each of them. They also all each equally annoy me.. so clearly there is no difference between them.
I want to see beauty. I don't like that I don’t open my eyes up and see beautiful people every day. They are all around us. I met a beautiful soul today, and I’m so thankful that I did. She reminded me that it is more than possible to love and care for people that join our families by a less traditional route. She reminded me of unconditional love. I hope people look at my siblings (all of them!) and see beauty too. I don’t appreciate people separating out my family, because really, nothing can separate us.
As Huge Demonstrations Call for President’s Resignation: Proposal for a Post-Martelly Transitional Government Comes to the Fore
Huge demonstrations calling for President Michel Martelly to step down are growing in size, scope, and frequency. On Nov. 7, a march of many thousands, called by the Patriotic Force for Respect of the 1987 Constitution (FOPARC), marched up the Delmas Road from La Saline and burst through the barricades which Haitian police had erected to prevent the crowd from marching through the tony streets of Pétionville. “We proved today that we don’t need a visa, we don’t need a passport, to go to Pétionville,” said demonstrator and journalist Wendel Polynice after the symbolically powerful victory. The demonstrators then marched back down to Port-au-Prince along the Bourdon Road. When they reached the central Champ de Mars, police dispersed them with teargas and shots in the air.
The slogan of the Nov. 7 march was: “Dessalines is paying a visit to Pétion.” Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a former slave, led the masses of former slaves into an alliance with Alexandre Pétion, who headed the forces of St. Domingue’s largely mulatto affranchis or propertied freedmen. This alliance was what allowed the “indigenous army” to defeat the French legions of Napoleon in a decisive battle at Vertières, near Cap Haïtien, on Nov. 18, 1803, paving the way for Haiti’s Jan. 1, 1804 declaration of independence. On the 210th anniversary of Vertières, Haiti’s most nationalist holiday, another huge demonstration filled the streets of the capital. Estimates ranged from 10,000 to 50,000. The principal calls were “Down with Martelly” and “Down with MINUSTAH,” the acronym for the 9,000 soldier occupation force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti. Meanwhile, Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe traveled to Cap Haïtien where they spoke to a largely bussed in and paid crowd after police aggressively broke up the anti-Martelly demonstrations that had been planned. Anti-Martelly, anti-MINUSTAH demonstrations were held on Nov. 18 in other Haitian cities including Aux Cayes, Jacmel, Miragoâne and Petit Goâve. “There were some 1.7 million people marching in the streets of Haiti today,” said Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, one of Martelly’s most outspoken critics, surrounded by a throng of demonstrators in the Nov. 18 march in Port-au-Prince. “And there were only 700,000 who supposedly voted for Martelly” in the illegal and controversial Mar. 20, 2011 presidential run-off election. “It is clear that Martelly does not have the legitimacy or the credibility to lead the country,” Sen. Jean-Charles continued. “We are asking the Americans, French, and Canadians to come an collect their errand boy because he cannot lead the country any more.” The next major demonstration in the capital is planned for Nov. 29, the 26thanniversary of the 1987 election massacre carried out by a neo-Duvalierist military junta. For that day, Moïse called on Haitians to “prepare your chairs, your gallons of water, and your sleeping mats” because “we are going to set up our headquarters across from the U.S. Embassy.” On Haitian radio shows, there is increasing discussion of what would follow Martelly’s resignation. However, the first proposal for a transitional government was made during a Sep. 29 Popular Forum of grassroots organizations, where the keynote speaker was Sen. Jean-Charles, held at the Fany Villa in Port-au-Prince, the only such large public meeting to take up the matter to date. The proposal was drafted by the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new influential political formation made up of militants who have distinguished themselves over the past 25 years of Haiti’s struggle for democracy. In previous weeks, Haïti Liberté has published in Kreyòl and French the proposal, which was adapted and then adopted by the participating popular organization on Oct. 7. In light of the growing prospects of Martelly’s resignation, we present the KOD’s proposal in English below.
Popular Forum, September 29, 2013, Port-au-Prince
The Proposal of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD) for a Provisional Government
The government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was never legal because the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the final arbiter of any Haitian election, said that it was Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin who should have gone into a run-off election. It was Washington, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the occupation force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), as represented then by Edmond Mulet, which then gave Haiti orders as to how to do its election and who should be in it. They imposed a Mar. 20, 2011 run-off between Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly. This Martelly regime, which came to power through a bogus election, doesn’t have any legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the Haitian people. Since Hillary and Bill Clinton put Martelly in power, the people have been squeezed, as if through the eye of a needle, by all kinds of tribulations. The first illegal act of Martelly was to brazenly take money without Parliament’s assent on all the international money transfers and telephone calls that Haitians overseas make to their families back home. On top of that, Martelly has flexed his ill-gained authority with intimidation, violence, and repression, as on Oct. 22, 2011 when he threatened a neighbor in an effort to take his home. On Oct. 26, 2011, he arrested a sitting deputy with immunity. On Feb. 17, 2012, Martelly led a band of thugs from the airport through the streets of Port-au-Prince to the University’s Ethnology School, where they physically attacked and fired on students. Through a bunch of fake projects, inflated travel per diems, and other “legal banditry,” Martelly has stolen state funds. But that’s not all. The Dominican journalist Nuria Piera revealed a lot of documents which clearly showed that Martelly during 2011 took $2.6 million in bribes from Dominican Senator Felix Bautista. There are a lot of drug-dealers in this government. We haven’t forgotten the testimony of Sherlson Sanon who charged Senators Edo Zenny and Joseph Lambert, both close Martelly aides, with involvement in drug-running, killings, and other criminal acts. Until now, the leader of a kidnapping ring, Clifford Brandt, has never gone to trial since his arrest a year ago, and both Martelly’s son Olivier and one of his security officers have been accused of being part of the ring. Attacks against journalists are too many to even count. The latest was the attack Judge Lamarre Belizaire made against Radio Kiskeya. But the biggest government crime is the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph. Martelly, Lamothe, and Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon met with the judge on Thursday Jul. 11, 2013 in the offices of lawyer and Martelly legal advisor Garry Lissade. Two days later, the judge died, either from the tension caused by the threats they made against him or by poison they gave him. But what is even worse, they all lied to the nation, completely straight-faced, as if they didn’t even know the judge much less meet with him. That is why two Special Parliamentary Commissions, after in-depth investigations, issued official reports calling for Martelly, Lamothe, and Sanon to be indicted. Thirteen deputies signed a call for an impeachment indictment against Martelly. But, everyone knows that President Martelly has bought a majority among the deputies with the money he has stolen from the public treasury not to mention from the PetroCaribe fund. Thus he has blocked the deputies from indicting him, which would allow the Senate to judge him and his acolytes. Thus the legal road to unseat Martelly via the Parliament is blocked. The only way which remains is for popular power to exert its will because we cannot take it anymore. Enough is enough! Martelly took power illegally. Unfortunately, he promulgated the amendments to the 1987 Constitution, thus the amendments cannot be valid. For us, all decisions to be taken to bring a change for the better in the country, without confusion, should be done on the basis of the 1987 Constitution. Popular organizations today want to take up their historic responsibility to engage in a fight against this illegal power which doesn’t have any legitimacy but continues to everything it can to soil Haiti’s face in the interests of the imperialist countries. It is Washington, the OAS, and the UN occupation which have put us in the situation we are today. The government doesn’t have the capacity to deliver anything to improve the life of he people, and that is why we popular organizations, who are gathered today at Fany Villa, have decided to bring a change.
We in the Dessalines Coordination propose that all national sectors join together to form a “Council of State” to lead the country forward. We are not proposing a coup d’état or a kidnapping. We don’t have guns in our hands to fire on anybody. We aren’t here for that, that is not our practice. We are Haiti’s children. If the nation’s life is in danger, if the nation is stuck, about to die, it is us, her children, who should bring the remedy, the solution. Thus, every sector will be able to participate in this work of unity. What makes the nation work are different forces: peasants, students, women, youth, unions, political parties, civil society, religious sectors, and so on. We propose that leadership of state be taken over by a Supreme Court Judge with a Council of State of 13 members, which would have representatives of:
1) peasant organizations2) popular organizations3) political parties4) womens’ organizations5) unions6) business owners7) Vodou practitioners8) Protestants9) Catholics10) students11) youth12) civil society13) non-aligned parties
All parliamentarians, that is the deputies and two-thirds of the Senate, would remain in their posts until their mandate finishes in January 2015. They would continue to do their job in Parliament. The Council of State would have the right to convoke them in extraordinary session if necessary, the same way the President does. Although we see this road is blocked for the moment, we propose that we continue to put pressure on the deputies, above all the pro-Martelly PSP deputies, to make them pass the impeachment indictment just as two commissions, 13 deputies, and the Senate as well has asked, in the latest vote it took on Sep. 26. It would be ideal for the PSP deputies to stop avoiding the issue and take responsibility before history to vote on the parliamentary reports and the indictment, just as the Senate has.
The Role of the Council of State
The Council of State will sit with a Supreme Court Judge to find a democratic formula for them to name a government, that is a Prime Minister and the ministers under him. That government would put in place a democratic Provisional Electoral Council which would have the task of holding a general election for all empty posts in a not less than six months. If there was a vacancy on the Council of State, that is, if a person left or died before the Council finished its work, the sector affected could always appoint a new representative. Haiti shouldn’t accept money for the elections from any foreign government or international institution which sets conditions. Any country which chooses for whatever reason to give their solidarity to the Haitian people, we won’t refuse them, but they can’t meddle in Haiti’s internal affairs. They can give their support, but without conditions. MINUSTAH
MINUSTAH would not have any right to meddle in this process, even if it hadn’t yet had time to get all its troops out of Haiti. The last MINUSTAH soldier should not remain in Haiti any later than May 2014, as the latest unanimous Senate resolution has demanded.
The Martelly Administration together with other international institutions, above all the embassies of imperialist countries like the U.S., France, and Canada, will say that what we propose is not legal, not receivable. The Haitian people have to stand up to defend what they have given birth to. When the imperialist countries make a coup d’état or an illegal election, even if the people reject it, they never take that into account. Now they must allow the Haitian people to take their destiny in hand. What we propose is more democratic, more authentic, more honest, and more sovereign than all the machinations which the imperialists have carried out in Haiti. It is time for the Haitian people to stop taking orders from the colonists and to construct our own democracy, because we are a nation, not a colony, and we are our own masters. As Thomas Sankara said: “Let us dare to invent the future!” We the organizations who took part in the Popular Forum agree with KOD’s proposal and resolve to:1) Not go into elections with Martelly and his clique in power.2) Strengthen the mobilization against Martelly and the UN occupation force MINUSTAH.3) Prevent from returning to their districts all PSP deputies who won’t vote for the indictment against Martelly, Lamothe, and Sanon.4) Continue working with all organizations to reinforce their capacity for reflection and action.5) Set up a follow-on committee with all the organizations which participated in the Forum to continue planning for solutions to our national problems.
Port-au-Prince, October 7, 2013
Oganizasyon Tèt Ansanm nan Nip (OTAN)Rasanbleman Popilè pou Chanjman (RPCS)Oganizasyon Jèn Aktif pou Devlopman (OJAD)Mouvman Revolisyonè pou Devlopman Nòdwès (MRDNO)Oganizasyon Jèn Patriyotik pou Devlopman Baradè (OJPB)OPDMK NòdwèsKODESA/ NòAFBPP NòdèsOJANORDMouvman pou Libète, Egalite ak Fratènite tout Ayisyen (MOLEGHAF)Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yoRASHPlatfòm Nasyonal Popilè
Thousands marched through Port-au-Prince on Nov. 18 demanding that President Martelly step down.Credit: Wendel Polynice/Haiti Liberté
Workshops discuss KOD’s proposal for a provisional government at a Sep. 29 Popular Forum in Port-au-Prince.Credit: Kim Ives/Haiti Liberté
- 16 hours in the van with the kids and the puppy getting back to TX from TN...The first hour was touch and go, Lydia was mad at everything and disagreeing with every positive sentiment being shared. The other 15 hours felt miraculous. Good road trip.
- When someone does Lydia's hair and she likes it, she says, "What a great saloner!" Salon as a verb. You're welcome.
- We got to see a huge black bear in the Smoky Mountains. It ran across the road in front of us. It was the highlight of Isaac's 12 year life. Lydia said, "If that thing came near me I would scream out my blood." (Screaming bloody murder is something entirely different.)
- In the homeschooling curriculum we use they have a "tin whistle" unit. I believe that falls under "fine arts" - which, let us be honest, is a total misnomer. Also, tin whistle is a new way of saying recorder and we all know that the recorder was added to fourth grade curriculum back in 1981 as a way of driving families apart. Giving it a new name changes nothing. I digress. So, Isaac, Hope, and Noah love their tin whistles. Lucky us, right? The other day they came to tell me that they would be going for a walk and practicing. Being utterly selfish I only heard "Tin whistles will be played away from your ears, Tara" and I said, "Great idea - GO!" The three of them walked in a line, playing tin whistles as they went all around the neighborhood. When people stopped them to ask why they were not in school they said, "We don't go to school." I assume the police will be here any minute.
- Lydia and Phoebe had a real argument about what names they "call" for their future children. They both want Julianna. Lydia got ticked when Phoebe insisted she'd be taking Julianna first and told Phoebe, "You need to name your daughter Dolphiny because you love dolphins."
- At the doctor's office the doctor asked Lydia, "Do you read?" Lydia said, "Yeah, I read. I read, like, the letters of the alphabet, you know? I read ABCDEFG and the rest of them too."
- All five "little kids" - which just doesn't work anymore as a descriptor but is what we call them - are getting all caught up on exams and immunizations. We are perpetually behind on all that well child stuff. Some of my favorite moments are watching how people react to their funny innocence. Isaac's jaw dropped to the floor when he was asked about depression, drugs, gangs, and sex. The shock on his face when those questions were posed was really kind of precious. "What do you mean a gang?" he said. Turns out he is in the 'vocab gang'. Initiation is 5 quality adjectives, 3 strong verbs, and the use of both in grammatically correct sentences.
- The church that is allowing us to use their house is a historic and large institution in this town. We have been blessed twice with the use of their 3 bedroom brick rambler and have loved staying here. We remove all their fancy decor on day one and box it up until the kids are buckled in and headed to the airport. They came by to do a bit of an inventory on the house, see if anything needed fixing or upgrading. Isaac was the only child home with Troy. In true Isaac fashion he schmoozed the two visitors including getting their names down and telling them how nice it was to meet them and they chatted about their common love of Tennessee. Troy said he went in for a hug at the time of the introductions, which seemed to surprise them a bit. Should this church decide to support the work of Heartline Ministries we will know it was due to our good will ambassador.
- "Do you think Sea World will still be going when I have kids?" -Noah
- "I hate covers. You wanna know why?" (uh. OK.) "They give me a tummy ache." -Lydia
- We went to Gatlinburg one night on our TN trip. We planned to walk around and see the Christmas lights. We ended up having pizza while we were there. The two youngest girls are big on having bowel movements in public restrooms. It's their thing or something. So, I took Lydia to the bathroom as per usual. The music was blaring in the bathroom and Rod Stewart was singing Hot Legs (circa 1977) at a high volume. The stall was locked so we waited by the sink. Lydia started dancing crazy to Hot Legs and mocking a hard rock head-banger. An older woman exited the stall to see Lydia dancing and said, "Do you know Rod Stewart little girl?" Lydia said, "NO, but I.am.dancing!" The old lady started dancing with her in the tiny bathroom sink area. Lydia and a 70 year old stranger dancing to Hot Legs in Gatlinburg. That's not weird.
- We started working on the 7th Annual Christmas Extravaganza. We all think that family tradition is more fun in Haiti than it is stateside.
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November 2013 Newsletter
Hope Realizedby Tara Livesay, Heartline Maternity CenterAs we meet with women, some young and some not so young, we often hear stories that leave us speechless. The women of Haiti that we serve have often experienced pain, suffering, and trauma that we cannot easily imagine. One such young woman, "Rebecca" came to us early in her pregnancy. As Rebecca opened up about her situation we grieved with her over what she had lost and what she still needed to face. At the tender age of 15, Rebecca had been hurt. An older man forced himself on Rebecca and assaulted her right in her neighborhood.
The community was upset, the police were notified, and in a rather unusual turn of events in Haiti, the assailant ended up fleeing Haiti to hide in the Bahamas in order to avoid the consequences of the rape. Soon after, Rebecca learned she was pregnant. The day we heard her story we sat quietly listening to her resolve and her strength and her plan of action. "It is not the baby's fault that I was forced. I will love this baby," said the incredibly mature young woman sitting with us.
Rebecca came to our program at the Maternity Center faithfully all throughout her pregnancy. She missed only twice, but both times she let us know she had a counseling appointment and would be absent due to that important prior engagement. We had the honor of helping Rebecca through hours of labor and eventually welcoming a baby boy into the world.
Instantly Rebecca proved that teen-mothers often have the ability to bond, love, and serve their children every bit as well as an older, more mature mother. Rebecca's baby grew fast and became a very sturdy little guy. He looked even larger in his Momma's thin arms.
When Rebecca's son reached six months of age we hugged, talked and said our temporary goodbyes on the day she graduated from the program. Rebecca graduated in January of 2013 and asked about going back to school in the future. We encouraged Rebecca to spend the next six months focusing on parenting her son. We told her that if she would come back after his first birthday in July, we would discuss school for the 2013-2014 school year.
Just as expected, in July Rebecca came to see us. She held her giant one-year-old baby boy on her hip. In October of this year she returned to school. Her mother is caring for her son while she presses on toward the goal of finishing high school. This is no small task in Haiti. The testing process is difficult and the work load heavy. From the first day we met Rebecca, we knew she had a unique spirit, one that would allow her to fight the most difficult battles and not give up. It was clear to us that sending her back to school was the right thing to do.
Heartline doesn't budget for these situations. When we meet a pregnant woman we are thinking about the immediate health-related needs. We are thinking about nutrition and vitamins and blood work. We are thinking about education throughout pregnancy and building relationships. Later we are thinking about emotional support during the difficult hours of labor and delivery. We are focused on breastfeeding and helping make the immediate connections between mom and baby. Those things are the core of our program. They are the core of what we do.
When we enter into these stories with women, we often end up knowing that our commitment to encourage, advocate, love, and serve does not end on graduation day.
While we don't technically have a "send teen moms to high school" program and therefore had not budgeted for the more than $1,000 in fees to make it happen, we knew that Rebecca needed to be given this opportunity. We will continue to ask God for direction in the unique situations that He brings to our Maternity Center, and we will continue to ask God to provide for the needs of the women through your generosity and love. If you would like to make a special donation to The Maternity Center, please do so here. Thank you.
For a tour of The Maternity Center:
carelp posted a photo:
A droite du couple présidentiel, l'artiste Rodrigue Milien et le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot). A gauche, le musicien Raoul Guillaume, la Ministre de la Culture, Mme Josette Darguste, et le Dr Didier Armand, représentant de Mimi Barthélémy.
carelp posted a photo:
Vue partielle de l'assistance à la cérémonie de remise de décoratiion au Palais National
carelp posted a photo:
Le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot), Sociologue et Ethnologue, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Grand Officier pour sa contribution au développement communautaire
carelp posted a photo:
Photo souvenir entre le récipiendaire et le Chef de l'Etat
carelp posted a photo:
M. Raoul Guillaume, premier compositeur de chants de Noël et grand Mapou de la musique haïtienne, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Chevalier pour sa constance dans le milieu musical.
carelp posted a photo:
Photo souvenir entre le Président de la République et le Maestro Raoul Guillaume
carelp posted a photo:
D'importantes personnalités ont pris part à la cérémonie de remise de décoration
carelp posted a photo:
L'initiative du Président de la République d'honorer des personnalités haïtiennes est saluée par l'assistance
carelp posted a photo:
Une courte interprétation musicale rappelant les bons moments entre les deux artistes, sous le ragard jovial du Père Sicot
carelp posted a photo:
Photo souvenir. L'artiste Rodrigue Millien n'a pas caché sa joie et sa satisfaction d'être honoré par le Président de la République
carelp posted a photo:
Le Chef de l'Etat décorant Rodrigue Millien pour sa contribution à l'épanouissement de la musique population haïtienne. Décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Chevalier, l'artiste a 28 albums à son actif.
carelp posted a photo:
Le Chef de l'Etat et le Dr Didier Armand dans une photo souvenir