Today was a struggle for me. Emotionally, mentally, culturally, I would say physically, but physically, I am doing pretty well. I guess it was a struggle physically as I didn’t exercise (as I usually do on Mondays) and ate way too much. But, we all have those days. Anyway, back to what I was saying. Today was a tough day.
Being the end of December, I don’t have a lot going on. The children in the barrio are on vacation and Casa ENED has shut down for two weeks, sending the boys to stay with distant relatives and neighbors while the staff go on vacation (please don’t ask me my opinion on this), so my projects and diagnostic have come to a stand still. Which would be awesome, if I enjoyed doing nothing and relaxing, but I don’t.
I went over to check on Fanny, a 22 year old women who is raising three boys, Franklin (6), Juan (3) and Jackson (1) by herself. She herself is from an abusive home and has no support from her parents, her babies’ daddy or his parents. Fanny works at Casa ENED
and now that it is closed for vacations, she has no social outlet, so she was happy to see me, as were the boys. I spent a few hours at the house and came to find out that they only sustenance that the children had consumed that day were a half of banana and a cupcake. Fanny explained how she didn’t have enough money to buy food for the boys today (but her fridge was filled with eggs) and by the time I left both Juan and Franklin were crying and saying “Sara, tengo hombre!” (I am hungry). Realizing there was nothing I could do in the moment to help them with their hunger, I gave the boys with lots of love and kisses before departing.
Upon departing from Fanny’s house, I ran into Fenton (15) and Sandy (14), two boys who live in Casa ENED, walking around the streets. I informed them that I could soon move into my own house and wanted to explore Los Botas (The Throwaways) for a “nice” house to live in. They both began to laugh hysterically at the idea of finding a “nice” house in this part of the barrio but agreed to let me walk around with them. We arrived at a poor Haitian home filled with children that I recognized.
“Fenton, Sadrac is very sick. We don’t know what to do.” Exclaimed a 7-year-old girl.
Sadrac is the 12-year-old brother of Fenton who also lives in Casa ENED. Also, if Peace Corps Volunteers or Youth Care Workers were allowed to have favorite children, he would be one of mine. But of course, we don’t have favorites.
Fenton and I looked at each other and I could recognize the look in Fenton’s eyes as a look that only an oldest sibling has when they have no idea what to do next but feel the heavy burden of responsibility. So I did the older sibling thing and took charge, “where is Sadrac?” I asked the young girl. I was taken far back into the “gated” property to a small shack barley big enough for a twin sized bed and found Sadrac in the fetal position crying. I began to rub his back and asking questions about what he was experiencing (since I am apparently a trained medic and fluent in Spanish). During this exchange, Fenton showed up, flustered and claimed that Sadrac should actually be in the house and “no one knows why he was out there” (hmmm, right…). So I picked up Sadrac and carried him to the house.
The next hour was a blur of me asking Sadrac questions and determining that he didn’t have Cholera, was supposed to stay in the house of a rich French man, who for some reason dropped Sadrac off at this house the day before and that Sadrac ate street food the night before for dinner. Fenton began to lecture his younger brother on the street food while I trying to figure out how to get him to the doctor.
As the day continued, Sadrac and I made it to the doctor and he is doing well. Juan and Franklin are still hungry but are still running up and down the streets with smile on their face, and I still feel like I can’t do anything to solve the real problems of this community. Days like today are overwhelming, but serve to remind me that days like today happen. And we are all still here, so really, it wasn’t that bad.