Friday, August 16, 2013

Hey You! Pote Mwen!

Hey You!  Pote Mwen!

The Haitian children shout, “Hey You! Hey You! Hey You!” on all sides of our tap tap truck when we pull into Cite Soleil to deliver water to the neighborhood.  They run up shouting and greet us as we get out of the truck. 

“Hey You!” is a happy greeting which basically means, “Hi!  Pay attention to me!” to the blancs (white people) who visit.  We all wave and smile and shout, “Hey You!” back to as many little children as possible.   It’s quite a welcome!

Today, both water truck deliveries were pretty intense.  The first neighborhood hadn’t received a water delivery for a week-so there was a lot of pushing, shouting, and arguing in the water bucket line and near the water truck where we fill the buckets.

Eventually, the men of the group were handling the water lines, while the women played with the kids.  Even the children were a bit aggressive today.  They all clamored all over us, saying, “Pote Mwen! Pote Mwen!”  Many children, even “big kids” like ten year old boys fought with each other over who would get to be picked up by one of us women!

I figured pote mwen meant “Pick me up!” Chris said, “Carry me!”  Erin thought, “Pull me!”  In any case, the children were asking us to pay attention to them and lift them up!  While the adults were scrambling for their water, the kids were scrambling for our love and attention.  I’m glad were could bring both-even if it meant getting jostled around, breaking up some fights, getting dirty, and feeling uncomfortable in the hot sun.

We all found ways to entertain the children.  Ring-around-the-rosy with two girls became a circle so big-I thought we’d be in the way of the hard work the Haitian people were trying to accomplish organizing all their water buckets.  So I forgot the fact that I don’t sing very well and led group in the hokey pokey.  It was so fun!  I was happy to find a way to lift them up all at the same time.

This afternoon, our group drove to Downtown Port-au-Prince to volunteer at General Hospital.  This is a free hospital and the conditions are POOR.  Some of the people in our group with medical backgrounds had an especially difficult time because there was such a lack of resources.  There were even mice running around the room.

We did what we could to help-passing out coloring books and blowing bubbles.  We felt helpless, but I think we did brighten some patients and parents’ day…or at least provided a few laughs for the people watching our inability to provide assistance with their medical needs.

When we arrived, I went to a tiny nine-month old baby, with arms and legs skinnier than a newborn.  I was afraid to pick her up at first, but carefully lifted her into my arms.  Suddenly-a woman popped her head and chest into the open window next to the crib, explaining this was her baby---I was shocked to discover she was bathing outside the window!

After the baby’s mom came back to the crib, she proceeded to bath the little baby, then wash some dishes, and finally washed the baby’s laundry by hand next to the crib in the middle of the hospital room.  At least, I could help hold the baby!

Our experiences today were pretty uncomfortable.  In fact, I felt pretty helpless and out of place several times.  God is stretching us and helping us grow…even as it’s been difficult.  Going forward, I ask God to help me remember what the Haitian children kept shouting to me…..Hey You!  Pote Mwen!  Pay Attention and Lift Others Up….even when it’s hard, or I don’t feel adequate, or I don’t know what to do.   

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