Saturday, April 30, 2005

March 24th, Port Au Prince Haiti, City of God Orphanage, visit to Brother Vistal

Magdaleine Leger (yellow shirt, shown at sewing machine): 15 years old, her father stabbed her mother to death when she was 4. Grandmother could not support her so she became a restavek. The family that had her was abusing her physically, so she came to the TIP center. She learned that her father has since bought his way out of jail but she has not seen him. She has been living at the center for 6 years and enjoys taking culinary and sewing classes. She says that she wants to learn something before leaving the center so that she can support herself.
Clausette Sylvain, (white shirt with American Flag) age 15 has been at the TIP center for 2 years. Was a restavek, but escaped and came to learn sewing and cooking. Her parents are alive but do not have contact with her.
Deralis Judith (red shirt) age 12 staying at the center for 1 year now, but for the last few years she has been coming during the day for meals and schooling. Her father is dead and her mother is living in Jacmel. She is the youngest of 12 children. Her mother gave her away to a complete stranger who took her to Port Au Prince, where she was a slave. She was with her "keeper" at a crowded market, carrying a large basket of food; she became separated and took the opportunity to run away. She is happy now; she said "now I can learn to sew and I love dancing, I think I want to become a dancer".
Robert, age 13 trafficked to the DR along with his mother and brother and were living and working in Santo Domingo. At age 10 he left his mother and never saw her again until one day he was rounded up by the DR authorities and sent back to Haiti, his mother and brother had also been repatriated to Anselpitres and when he got there he was reunited with his mother but she did not want to take him back because she could not feed him. He got to PAP and eventually found the TIP center. "I want to learn a skill so that I can get a job" he says.
Brother Vistal: Changes since last visit: Improvements due to new construction at the orphanage...better security, more space, toilet facilities and a working kitchen/cafeteria. Girls are getting food every day. Since conditions have improved, so have the girl's school performance...better test scores and grades. City of God has gotten much more dangerous though, organized gang rape, much shooting at night, and recently two men were decapitated just behind the building...the girls hear it all and were very frightened. Several gangs have attempted to extort money from Bro Vistal and now he spends almost all his time at the orphanage, fearing that if he leaves, the girls may be in danger. He is now concentrating on improving the quality of the girl's education, preparing them to go on to technical/professional school. They are also working on the third floor to be able to house more girls. His mother died last year, and before she died asked why he was doing what he was doing...he replied, that he really didn't know either, but it was something much bigger than himself, and that God gives him the strength to do it. She left Vistal about 7 acres of land near Leogane, where he plans to build a school.
During difficult times he was having trouble getting money to pay bills and was not always able to get food for the girls. He began having doubts and worried...he would cry at night thinking that the girls shouldn't have to live in such conditions and that if he did not succeed in getting funds to continue, he might have to let the girls back out on the street. (It was a time of La Vienour or the bad life, and it was like wounding one's self). Through the good will of God he made it though that tough time, but this is only the first step, as he has much planned for the future, including his outreach program now serving 600 girls.
Vanessa has been lost for 7 days now and cannot find her, brother Vistal is very worried.
Brother Vistal Kids
Radeline (flowered dress with black collar) age 11 in second grade now. Born in Cap Haitian, both parents died, never went to school, a nun brought her to the orphanage in 2002. she had been living as a restavek.
Joanne Jacinthe age 14 (one of the oldest) in 7th grade from Jeremie. mother died in boat accident father got sick, had no medical care and died. she aspires to be a nurse so that she can help people.
Lelamaine Atale: 16 years old attending the 4th grade. (shown trying to read the bible) she likes taking on responsibilities (like she does in the kitchen helping serve and organize meals) and enjoys showing the younger girls how to do things. she has been at the orphanage 7 years now. "Even if I do not finish school, I want to learn a trade, probably cooking"