Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: Sienna Nelson's Reflection

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sienna Nelson's Reflection


What did I do in Haiti? I have no idea where to start. Usually when I am asked this question I respond, "I hung out with the kids." I'm afraid that makes my experience sound a little trivial, so I'll
explain further. This past trip in December I had two projects: making nametags for the kids, and making a photo album of the kids and their names. This was a little more challenging than I expected. I came prepared with a portable photo printer, tons of extra paper and ink cartridges, an album and pages ready to go. However, the language barrier (among other things) made taking pictures and getting kids to write their names... interesting. Diane Reddoch and I managed to get help from Jean Robert on our first photography adventure. He came with us to two classrooms and told the teachers that we were trying to do. The teachers produced a very beat up composition book with each kid's name carefully printed in blue ink. I handled the camera while Diane did her best to read the handwriting and match name to kid. After about forty pictures or so we retreated to print our pictures and put them in the album. However, afterwards we didn't have a chance to tie down Jean Robert. Instead we tried to enlist help from kitchen staff, Pierre Guy, or worst of all, try to get the kids to write their names themselves. Even if I knew how to say, "write your name," in Creole, many of the kids just didn't get the message. Not to mention that many of the kids were blind or deaf. It was definitely a struggle. Nametags were a bit easier, believe it or not. I went down to the girls' dorm after dinner one night with my nametags (made out of hole punched foam cards with lanyard strung through them) and a bag of multicolored markers. Dieumene Cloristin was my savior. She just wrote everyone's name down on a spare sheet of paper (with her foot, no less) and I would copy it onto a nametag. Then about five kids would grab said nametag and run off to deliver it. They were very popular. However, none of the kids were putting them around their necks. They were storing them with their things, or near their beds. I did my best to ask Dieumene to make sure that the kids wore them tomorrow, and she must have understood me, because most of them did. While I was still copying names in the girls' dorm, several kids kept poking me and yanking on my shirt and pointing frantically. I figured that they were just impatient for their turn, so I told them (futilely, in English) to wait. Until I turned around long enough to see a very terrified looking boy gushing blood from the head, at which point I screamed "Oh my God!", grabbed him, and rushed him to the kitchen where my mom was. He was okay, he just needed to be bandaged
up a bit, but after that he became my buddy. Thimote Frenel, though he just goes by Frenel. He is blind but he loves to sing. He clung to anyone who would hug him for hours on end.
Sienna Nelson

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