We are starting a new series of blogs where we will blog about each child. Hopefully these will give you some insight into their personalities as well as what life has been like for them up to this point. Every time Matt and I have mentioned doing this, the first child that came to mind is Apolon. I am not really sure why but I felt like he is the right place to start. So by the end of reading this, my hope is you will have a better understanding of who Apolon is.
Apolon is a 13 year old boy living here. To be perfectly honest, I would say maturity wise he is more like a 9 or 10 year old (which is the case with a lot of our kids and a direct result of growing up in the circumstances they have grown up in). From the time we started working with the kids 3 years ago to now, Apolon has always been one of our biggest challenges. He can be very emotional and extremely stubborn. When things don’t go his way, he has a very hard time recovering from it. Apolon has been known to go into a funk and not come out of it for days. During those days, he typically does one thing after the next to get in trouble. On the flip side of that, he can pretty much be one of the cutest kids here. When he is happy, it is one of my favorite things in the world to sit back and watch. We had a night a few weeks ago where we were just sitting down with the boys and talking after our evening service and he was in his happy Apolon mood. We had the best time talking and when we walked away that night I remember telling Matt that Apolon could have probably asked me for anything and I would have said yes.
To understand Apolon a little better you need to know first of all that he has both a mom and a dad that are alive and live in Port au Prince. We have met them both. Your first reaction may be to wonder why he is living here instead of with them. We have been in Apolon’s life for the last 3 years and the first time we ever saw his dad was in April when we made the move here to Hope Rising. The first time we saw his mom was about a month later when she came to visit. In both of these situations, I made sure to watch Apolon closely around them to see how he interacted with them. With his dad, he was entirely indifferent and with his mom he was happy to see her but also ready when she left. To understand Apolon even better, let me tell you about a conversation we had with him on the night before school started. We rarely push the kids for too much info about their parents because we know it is a hard thing for them to talk about and we also know they will talk when the time is right. This night in particular, Apolon shared a lot. He told us that about 7 years ago his mom took him to an orphanage in one area of Haiti, then removed him after a while to come and live with her again, then took him to another orphanage, removed him again, and then finally he landed in the orphanage where we first met him. Each time that this happened, he would go back to living with his parents for very brief amounts of time until they would find another orphanage to take him to. We have always known Apolon has some deep abandonment issues and now we really knew why. All of this happened to him before he was even 13 years old. The sad fact of the matter is Apolon’s parents neither want nor can they take care of him and he is very aware of this.
Apolon has always been our child here who struggles the most with us leaving as well as with groups leaving. Goodbyes are always done with tears-he has big huge crocodile tears that I can’t really see without crying myself. It has gotten better but for a long time if we were gone then came back, he would not warm back up to us for several days. There was even one time that for some reason the kids got in their heads we would be back 2 days earlier than we were actually coming. When we showed up on the day we were supposed to but the kids considered late, Apolon’s exact words were “I thought you were never coming back.” When Audancin asked us not to come back to the orphanage and we had several days where we didn’t see the kids, the next time we saw them, Apolon said “Jess I folded up our tables we eat at and saved them so nothing would happen to them. I wanted them to look nice for the day you came back”.
More than any other child who lives here, Apolon loves music. If we let him, he would “direct” our service we do together every night and would be listening to music constantly. In the last month, we have seen a shift for the positive in him. He has been more compliant and extremely grateful for everything we do for him. We have gotten to spend time just being with him instead of constantly disciplining him and this has been refreshing. This new gratitude I am talking about has even been expressed with affection which is not something we have gotten very often from him until now. A few times, recently, I have looked over and he just has his head resting on Matt. I have to just look away to keep from crying because my heart is so full at seeing him let down his guard and do this. Apolon is an amazing boy with so much potential. I wish everyone could come down and spend some time getting to know and love him like we do.