There are many things that happen in Gressier that rock my world…some in an amazing way…some in the most disturbing and disheartening way…this was unfortunately something that rocked me to the point of tears, nausea and begging God – please be aware that this blog is tough and really shows some of the darkness of Haiti.
As I turned the corner onto my street, my mind was thinking about a million things until I heard a SCREAM and a cry for Help.
I stopped in the middle of the road and waited for a second…surely I didn’t hear that right. Maybe she had just fallen and was hurt? Maybe she was playing?
As I waited a second more, the screaming, yelling and begging to stop continued. I turned around quickly and rushed to the house…as I got closer to the gate I realized it was open….I peaked in and saw someone hovering over one of the little girls in Michaelle’s 1st grade class. She had two thin sticks in her hand and was BEATING Dada over and over as Dada laid helpless on the ground trying to defend herself….
I opened the door all the way and ran in….I ran up to the girl beating her (who was about my age)…my heart raced and without thinking I RIPPED the sticks out of her hands. As she looked at me with eyes of FURY….I couldn’t believe I had just seen her beating this child…
I asked her what in the world Dada did…and she began yelling about how she never listens, she’s disobedient, she doesn’t do what she is told…I tried to calm down and ask her what she was told to do that she didn’t do….the girl yelled back at me that she refused to pick up the leaves off of the ground….
Dada looked up at me with the most scared and helpless eyes…the same helpless eyes that I remember from back in October when Jessica, Michaelle and I turned the corner of our street to head to their first day of school…I remember seeing a child through a sliver in the gate sitting on a cement block surrounded by dishes just washing. I remember stopping, looking through the gate and having a flashback of Michaelle washing dishes just like that…Knowing there was NO way I could or wanted to pass her every day for the next year bringing my girls to school, I stopped at her house on the way back and enrolled her in our 1st grade. Dada’s eyes stayed with me.~~
After trying to reason with Dada’s “caregiver” and her daughter (who was the one who had done the beating), I realized that in the midst of all this anger, there was no way that I would be able to explain how what they were doing was wrong. That no matter what they THINK she is NOT a piece of “property”…that they don’t “Own” her…
I walked back to my house to give everyone some time to cool down…I PRAYED nonstop and returned back to the house in a much more calm manner…Explaining this part is nearly impossible…because it’s in times like this where Creole flows from my mouth and I don’t even know what I’m saying….I remember trying to explain to Dada’s caregiver (and her daughter) that ABUSE is illegal…that BEATING a child is NOT okay….I remember her yelling at me that Dada doesn’t listen…that I don’t understand because children in America listen… (HA! Right?)
After more than 15 minutes of explaining how Dada is NOT property…how God does NOT want us to treat children like this…how there are other ways of disciplining and punishing…and so much more, I felt like I had said my peace and that I needed to trust God to change their heart….not my own words.
Ultimately, I left Dada’s house that day feeling so helpless. Feeling completely frustrated with the “way people handle children” here in Haiti. After calling the “appropriate” people in Haiti, I still felt like I hadn’t done enough. My heart was broken….bleeding…open to a WHOLE new side of my children at Respire Haiti’s school that are Restaveks…a side of their lives that I was aware of, had been told about but hadn’t been in the middle of….until now.
As I walked around in a kind of trance for the rest of the day, my heart kept bleeding and my mind kept turning. Lord, how do we fix this? Lord, why does this happen? Lord, what is going on?
My brokenness over this continued to consume me…but where there is brokenness, Praise God there is healing….
Our God is Healer. Our God REDEEMS. Our God gives us overflowing grace and mercy.
A few days after this incident Dada’s “caregiver” pulled me aside and asked for a job here in Gressier in our school kitchen….my heart halfway stopped…we JUST finished our kitchen the week before at Respire Haiti Christian School…Soeur Jacques had JUST told me that she needed some more people to help her cook the 2,000+ meals per week she was cooking. As this lady looked up at me and asked me this question…everything…EVERYTHING in me wanted to shake my fist at her and tell her she doesn’t DESERVE this job…she doesn’t DESERVE to even ASK me for anything….EVERYTHING wanted to yell that at her…EVERYTHING except Christ’s voice calming me saying….Do YOU “Deserve” Everything I Give YOU? Grace. Forgiveness. Mercy. Love. MORE GRACE.
I looked into her eyes…I paused for a moment and looked down…as I closed my eyes I GAVE up…I gave up the idea of trying to PUNISH her for letting DADA be beat….the Lord calmed me as I looked back at her and said…I will check on things.
As I walked away from her…the hardened layers around my heart toward her began to peel away….I thought of her life….I thought of her past….I thought of her story and journey….and then I thought about REDEMPTION. I thought about how she WAS excited when I put Dada in school last October….about how I had seen glimmers of care and concern in her for Dada…..
I thought about Soeur Jacques our head cook….about her AMAZING LOVE for this community, for cooking…I thought about how she prays over the pots and the food before she begins cooking…I thought about her heart for the Lord….and my heart softened as I realized what God was doing.
I called Soeur Jacques to explain what had happened and she gladly accepted a new person to help and disciple.
Change. Changing a community like this is HARD. Through education, through relationship, through discipleship. It’s HARD. IF it were up to ME…I would run around pulling sticks out of people’s hands and yelling like a mad woman… sometimes I want to take all of our Restaveks out of their homes and SAVE them…but it’s not up to me. CHRIST has different plans…Plans of ENDING child slavery in Gressier and in Haiti through educating people, through teaching, discipling….Oh, the PRECIOUS way of JESUS is SO much better than mine.
Please pray with me for strength, for courage…Pray for Gressier…for the people here and the FREEDOM that we desire for these Restaveks.