This is a continuation of a story we have been telling over the past few weeks, so if you have not been keeping up, please click here for Part 1, click here for Part 2, click here for Part 3, click here for Part 4, or click here for Part 5 so that the story will make sense.
We now had a place to move into, but there was a lot more to do before Saturday came. We had to find the correct forms for families to sign, we had to make sure that “EVERY” single child had their closest family member there to sign the forms, we had to have transportation to take family members to the orphanage so that the children could bring all of their belongings with them, we had to make sure what we were doing was legal, and we had to do it as quietly as possible. It seemed like a pretty big task, we knew it would be difficult, but for some reason it also seemed like the easiest thing we have ever done.
That may not make sense, but when something that important is happening, the work that goes behind it seems simple compared to the reward waiting on the other side. I know all of you have had things like this happen before so you probably know what I am talking about, but I just wanted the readers to know that this was one of the best things I remember being a part of. When something that you have worked on for years finally comes to fruition in days, it is almost a surreal feeling. Even now, I don’t remember what these days were really like. Those 3 days leading up to the Saturday when our children came home were extremely full of very specific and very important tasks that we were accomplishing but I can only vaguely recall the things we did. The next very vivid memory I have will be explained in part 7 (which will also be the final part) of this story.
The most important task we had was contacting the closest family member of each of our children. I want to explain to you why this was so important rather than just assuming we are all on the same page. Our plan was to move all of our children on Saturday without letting Audancin know what was going on. We were doing this because we feared (and this was a very valid fear) that if Audancin found out he would move the children to a different location or do something even dumber than that where we could not be with our children. We also knew that if we did not get in touch with each of the families prior to Saturday, then the children who did not have a representative there would be at Audancin’s alone, and we could not allow that to happen. This was crucial. We had basically 2 days to find the family members of 27 (while there are 34 children, we knew that 7 of the children were either Audancin or Rosie’s) children and have them each come to our house at Christianville on Saturday.
I know that some of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal with that, that does not seem too difficult at all.” And to those of you who are thinking that, I would like to invite you to come and visit Haiti some time. To find that many family members and to have each of them show up to a meeting would be very close to a miracle. It is extremely difficult to call people on the phone here because either they do not have minutes or their phone is not charged. If you can get them on the phone, it is even more difficult to ask them to find public transportation (which does cost money) and get them all to the same place at the same time. On top of that, I think I mentioned in another blog, many of our children’s families lived in City Soleil, 1 of them in the Dominican Republic, and 2 of them in northern Haiti. This, to reiterate, was the most difficult and most important task that we had to undertake. I will give you an example, most months in Haiti, I can put $20 of minutes on my phone and it will last for the entire month. During these 2 days, I put $40 and had to refill just a couple of days later. It is also very difficult to speak a language that you do not really know on the phone trying to get people to do something this important, but we did not want to bring a translator into our plan quite yet. However, by Friday night, we had contacted everyone and it seemed like they were all coming.
The other big task was to find the correct forms and the correct people to make what we were doing legal. The way we did this is that we found the “Cazek” of the area which is basically an elected official in each area of Haiti who serves almost like a city council person and asked him to come. We printed off a form from the IBESR (basically Department of Children and Families in Haiti) website and had each family member fill out the form, me and Matt Smithson (the leader of Hope Rising) signed it, and the “Cazek” signed and stamped it as a local official. This task was very important because we wanted to start our new venture by staying in line with the laws of Haiti and how things run here. We were able to accomplish these things with the help of some of our friends at Christianville.
Finally, the last part of the plan we needed to accomplish was to hire 2 trucks along with 2 drivers to take the family members up to the orphanage so that the children could load their things and come back to their new home. We had to do this on Friday (very late notice because Saturday is a big day for public transportation) so that word would not get back to Audancin. Luckily, one of our incredible employees, Lener, had 2 friends that he called and both were available to drive for us that day. This may not seem like a huge piece of the puzzle, but it was the last thing we needed to do before feeling like things were in place.
At this point, we had done all we could do. All there was left was to pray, try to sleep, and get ready for a very long and very emotional day. We were blessed by the fact that Jessica’s parents came down (they scheduled the trip prior to knowing we were moving this weekend) and were there to help us, to run some of the errands that we needed, and to be there for support. We also had another friend that came down, Brad Henry, for a whole different reason, and we will blog very specifically about his story on a different day. But the bottom line is we had some needed support, and we were ready to see what Saturday would hold.
Stay tuned for the 7th and last part of the story about how we moved to the Hope Rising campus.