I am sitting here in Haiti just waiting for the kids to come home from school and missing Jess and Sophie back home, so I thought I would take a few minutes to continue our blog series about each of our kids. Our last blog was entitled “Meet Sophie,” and if you click on the link to that blog you will find a link to every blog that we have written about each of our kids to date. If you are behind, I encourage you to go back and meet each one of our children. We are trying to introduce you to their personality, their family history, and anything else we can tell you about them. I know it is not the same as coming down here and seeing them for yourself, but it is the next best thing!
So, today, meet Woodly! Woodly is one of our older boys at 14 and he is from the area around the orphanage. In fact, his Mom lives right up the mountain from where the orphanage used to be and is only about a 10 minute walk to get there. Woodly’s Dad is still alive also and lives in the same area just down the mountain rather than up. After hearing that both of his parents are still alive, you may be wondering why he is living at an orphanage, and that is an excellent question. As we have said before, we tried hard to keep children with their parents if they were still around, and we even asked Woodly’s Mom if she wanted him to stay with her. We offered to pay for school, lessons, and food if she wanted this to happen, but at the same time we desperately hoped for his Mom to say no. You see, Woodly’s Dad is a known “bad guy.” They call him a gang leader, but I am not sure that this is necessarily true. We do, however, know that he is heavily involved in both selling and doing drugs, and if Woodly had stayed with his parents, it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would have ended up the same way. In fact, there were a few occasions (1 time in particular) when Woodly came back to the orphanage after clearly having taken drugs (he was definitely high). It was so sad to see a 13 year old boy come up with this helpless look on his face like he had no idea what was going on. In short, Woodly needed to be out of that situation and we prayed very hard that his Mom would see that too.
Clearly, she did! She decided that Woodly and his brother Woodlerxe would come with us to the new home. As much as kids should stay with their parents and as much as we should do whatever we can to make that happen, there are some situations (both here and in America) where a child should be removed from their parents’ care. Woodly was, without any doubt or hesitation, one of those children. GOD protected him and allowed him to stay with us, and we are so thankful that he is here.
A little about Woodly, he is a very polite and nice young man. He is thoughtful and he is almost always grateful for the things that people do for him. He is also very smart and very athletic. He has picked up basketball better than most of the kids, and he throws a football better than anyone including Herbison. I remember when he first came to Hope Rising, he was quite literally the perfect child. He did exactly what you asked immediately, always said please and thank you, and even helped the other children to do what they were supposed to do. He was always very nice like this, but he was going way above and beyond. That lasted from April 25 (when we arrived at Hope Rising for the first time) until July 3 at about 9:00 am (Jessica and I left to go back to America at about 8:30). We got a call, on the way to the airport, informing us that Woodly had just gotten in a fist fight with Kervinson. It was the first time he had acted out since we arrived at Hope Rising, and it was clearly timed with us leaving. I can only imagine the level of abandonment he felt when he got here, but at least Jess and I were here and we had been a constant in his life for 2 years at that point…But then we left. And in Woodly’s eyes, as well as some of the other kids probably, we were leaving him too. In this strange place that he was not used to yet with people that he was just getting to know. Woodly is a very mature young man and you can sometimes forget he is just 14. But when you think about how young he is, what he’s been through and seen, and his desire to be loved by people who will not leave him when things are tough, you realize that Woodly is just a boy who needs a chance to be just that…a boy.
On a lighter note, Woodly is a very funny young man who loves to have fun and make jokes. He is content to sit around and talk or listen to music (he loves music) but he also loves to go out and be active. He tried out to be the goalkeeper for the Hope Rising soccer team, but after a few weeks realized he didn’t really like having people kick balls at him constantly and moved back out to the field. That is not to say that he is a quitter because he is not, but he does know what he likes and does not like and he figured why do something that was not fun.
If you have come down on a trip or ever plan on coming, Woodly either has or will make an impression on you. He is one of the few kids that you can just sit down and have an almost adult conversation with. He looks at you when you are talking with him (his eye contact is incredible for a boy his age), he clearly is listening to everything you say (even through a translator), and he can sit and hold his attention while you converse. Not only that, but he can usually respond with a clever, humorous statement in return. This is one of the funnest things about Woodly…You can really get to know him. Sure he still has his guard up and a few shields to protect himself, but every day we get to know the real Woodly a little bit better, and trust me when I say, he is worth getting to know. So hopefully one day you will get to come down to Haiti and “Meet Woodly.”