Saturday, December 8, 2012

Never Forget Michele

He didn't really look at anyone and he wouldn't speak...then he hid behind me. I reached my hand behind my back and he took it. With his hand in mine he led me and the group down a narrow muddy pathway from the entrance of the Fondwa Orphanage to where all the children slept and played. Still not speaking, he laughed when I slipped and fell in the mud. I laughed, too. Our group of 11 was delivering donations of toys and supplies. They were so excited to see us and what we had - stickers, play dough, balls and beads. In all the excitement, someone bumped my little friend's arm reopening a cut that looked raw. He began to cry in pain, so I scooped him up and held him close. We poured some of our bottled water on the cut and put a bandaid with some medicine over top. He was brave even though it looked as though it could be infected. Then I carried him over to get a toy - a small green ball that popped into a dragon. He sat on my lap and we played.
I know how to say maybe 5 things in Creole now. I asked him his name...still not talking. I got him to laugh while we played and other children snuggled in - playing with my hair, inspecting my earrings, asking if I was a doctor. Before you know it, I hear a little voice on my lap repeating the words "For you, madam. For you, madam. For you, madam." I realized it may be something he's probably heard over and over again from visitors to the orphanage. I wondered how many people come through for a day, an hour or just a moment, dropping donations and leaving. "For you, madam. For you, monsieur." And then out of their lives. Suddenly I was sad and I didn't want to go. I didn't want to be one of those people that just pass through, but I knew I was for today. I began to think of a song, whose name I can't remember, with a line that says something like - if you never say your name out loud or to anyone, they can never miss you...or remember you...or something like that. He is a 4 year old orphan in Haiti, but somehow I believe he knew he didn't want another person to know his name and then forget him. But I wanted to know his name. I didn't want to forget him. I asked him his name again and again until another child told me his name was Michele. I would not forget...Michele.
I've been listening to a song on my iPod a number of times since I've arrived in Haiti called "Show Me What I'm Looking For" by Carolina Liar. I've been asking myself - why am I here? I've been asking God, the people, the mountains, this country - to "show me what I'm looking for". I know I came here to bare witness, to learn, to be exposed, to step out of my comfort zone, to be inspired, to live, breathe and connect with each other as a human race. To connect with myself. I started thinking Michele was repeating the words, "For you, madam." literally for me. I suddenly felt Michele was there for me as much as I was there for him. I was looking for connection and that's exactly what we did. 
Over the past 8 days, I've seen a lot of this country...trying to interact with the people the best I can. Sometimes feeling scared and unwanted. Sometimes feeling warm and welcomed. Today I connected to Michele in a way I will never forget. I held this boy, who's touch is probably so limited, and before I left I put my hand over his heart. It was beating fast. So was mine. I did not want to put him down. I connected and hopefully not for the last time. I will never forget Michele. 

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