Some of you may be wondering why I never came back to our 2 children whose Mom did not show up on Saturday. I didn’t forget, I just wanted to tell this story by itself so you could hear specifically what happened to these 2. First of all, some of you may be wondering, “Why do Kervinson and Gueline need to stay with you when their Mom is still alive?” That is a valid question for those of us who live in a 1st world country, but it gets a lot more complicated in places like Haiti. There will be a blog coming called, “what is an orphan” in the near future that will hopefully help us understand some of the things that happen here. In the meantime, however, let me tell you the story of Kervinson and Gueline.
Kervinson and Gueline have been with the orphanage since the very beginning. In fact, we learned later, that they have been in 1 orphanage or another for a long time even before the earthquake. Their Mom lives in Carrefour (about 30 minutes from the orphanage), but we have never met her nor even talked to her. In fact, we were told that she was very difficult to find and that she never lived in the same place for very long. This was a problem as we needed to get in touch with each of our children’s families. Even our girl’s cousin from part 3 of the previous stories did not know Kervinson and Gueline’s Mom. Gueline asked about her a lot and told us that she lived, “close to the Ford River” which could have meant anywhere in Carrefour. We did not know how this was going to happen, and we knew that if we did not get in touch with their Mom, they could not come with us.
Another important part of this story is that both Kervinson and Gueline are very behind in school. They did not have the privilege of starting school when they were younger and they struggle right now because of that. Audancin knew this and oftentimes used that to his advantage, especially with Kervinson. Any time Audancin needed something or he wanted one of the children to run an errand, it was always Kervinson. When everything happened with our girl, Kervinson believed everything that Audancin and everyone else told him about us. He believed that we were trying to steal the orphanage, that we were using the orphanage and the children for our gain, and that we were “evil white people” who thought we were better than Haitians. We were even told that Audancin was calling us the French and that Audancin and Rosie were like Dessalines (the Haitian freedom fighter who helped Haiti win independence from France) fighting for independence. Kervinson, through no fault of his own, was taken in by this rhetoric and believed everything everyone was saying. He was angry with us, and he did not want to come to the new place. He needed to be convinced that this was what was best for him.
In the midst of this happening with Kervinson, we learned that we knew someone who could get in touch with their Mom. Her name is Mylove and she is a friend of one of our employees. We contacted her the day we were asking families to come and sign so that their children could come to Hope Rising for food and lessons. This was the week before the move, the very first time we needed to contact family members. Mylove found where she was living, and we all piled in the car together (actually the day that I got my license picture taken, so if you want to read a funny story, click here) to drive to Carrefour to find her. We found her, brought her back to our house, so we could tell her everything that was going on. We also found out that on the car ride back home, Audancin called her (which shows that he always had her number) and told her all of the lies he was telling other people about us.
It was the worst meeting with family members we had. She was clearly not listening to what we had to say and was definitely siding with Audancin at this point. Gueline even came and tried to convince her that what we were saying was true, and while this softened her a little, she was still clearly on Audancin’s side and it did not seem like she was budging. And this brings us up to the next week when we were getting ready to ask all families to come and take their children from the orphanage. We thought that all of the families were at least behind us in theory except for Kervinson and Gueline’s Mom and we did not know what to do. Then Jess had an idea. She asked me to call Brad and Katherine Henry and fill them in on the situation. They were sponsors who had been down recently and had established a great relationship with both Kervinson and Gueline, and our hope was that they would volunteer to come down and try to convince the family that this was best for them. It was a lot to hope for, but we really had a feeling that if they (and really Brad because it was Kervinson who needed to be convinced) could come down everything would work out.
So when I called Brad and talked to him on the phone, his immediate reaction was, “how can I help, do you think it would help if I came down?” It was the reaction we were hoping for, and just a few short hours later, he had a flight booked to come down on Friday and try to convince Kervinson that this was the best decision for him. We had, of course, found out that their Mom had told them that she would do whatever they decided. We knew that as of now Kervinson would choose to stay and Gueline would choose to come, and we needed help.
On Friday, Brad and Julihomme (who both drives and tranlates for us) went to pick Kervinson up from school so that Brad could talk to him and try to convince him that all we wanted was what was best for him and his future. When we told Kervinson that Brad was coming, it was the first time I had seen him smile for a few days, and if you know Kervinson you know that this is not normal. I am not sure exactly what Brand and Kervinson talked about, but when they were finished, I felt confident that he would be staying with us at Hope Rising, and that was such a relief. Many of you know what it is like to see someone throwing their life away at a young age with a decision that they were not equipped to make and I thought that this was going to happen to Kervinson, until now.
So Brad came down and did what we needed him to do, and we just had to wait until the next day to see if their Mom would show and if Kervinson would make the correct decision. The sad part was, at 1:00, when we sent all of the families up to the orphanage to pick up their children, Kervinson and Gueline’s Mom was not with them. We had not heard from her, her phone went straight to voicemail, and we did not know what was going to happen with them. We could not let them come onto campus without their Mom signing for them no matter what, so we just waited and prayed. I have no idea what was going through Brad’s mind, but I was just sad for them. I thought the Mom had just given up and went back to her old life not thinking of her children.
Until I received a call from a phone number I did not know. I picked it up and it was Kervinson and Gueline’s mom on the other end telling me she was in Leogane. She then told me a lot of things that I did not understand and then the phone went dead before I could clarify what she was saying. I knew she was close by, but I did not know if she was bringing her children or not. This was at about 3:00, so even if she was close by, I did not know how much longer it would be for her to find her kids and bring them down. So, again, we just waited and prayed.
When the trucks pulled up, all I remember was how excited I was to see all of our children driving up. It was such a beautiful sight that for a second I forgot that Kervinson and Gueline might not be there. I was just so happy to see everyone else that I just started hugging people and helping them carry their luggage in. At some point, I remember it registering to look and see if Kervinson and Gueline were there with them…
They were right in the midst of everyone else. Their Mom had made the right decision and come to get them and put them in a place where they were truly be cared for.
I have to tell you, it was truly a special moment. The picture with this blog is of Brad with Kervinson, Gueline, and their Mom all together on the day they moved in. I have no idea what would have happened if Brad had not come down, but I do know that he was here to be a part of this day. This is what our sponsorship program is all about. People who love our children enough to step into action for them and do whatever is needed to make sure they are loved and cared for for the rest of their lives. It is not only about sending $40/month to All Things New, it is about caring for someone even more than you care about yourself. Thank you to each of our supporters and sponsors for feeling this way about our children, and thank you Brad for making sure Kervinson and Gueline were cared for.