Thursday, July 17, 2008

Of Waterbottles and a Basket Breakthrough

Dirty water, which can cause skin ailments, dysentery and lead to dehydration, is everywhere in Haiti, and it kills thousands of people every single year.

(In this picture you can see two children carrying jugs to some kind of watering place. Clean? I don't know)

There are a few government regulated water spigots that provide clean water, where women will carry 5 gallon jugs of it, balanced beautifully on their heads, on the rocky terrain, back to their families.

(This is a pic out the car window of a woman carrying something on her head)

Culligan has an international export department and they deliver to Haiti. But of course, one has to pay for this sparkling, crystal clear, ever and always so clean, liquid gold. Seeing as how 90% of Haitians live well below the poverty line, more people drink dirty water that they have boiled in their dirty bucket.

When we went to Haiti 2.5 weeks ago, we had a couple of empty water bottles with us that we'd purchased at the airport. We knew our host, Dr. B, had a Culligan water system in his home and office. We were instructed to drink this, and ONLY this water. My mother, the designated photographer and general assistant for the trip, filled up a waterbottle and gave one to each of the girls. They never put them down.

(Here we are at Dr. B's house. Notice Katie has a wb in her hand)

Portable and Potable water at, quite literally, their fingertips, was bliss. Now, I know that Dr. B provides clean, safe water for the children at the O. But I doubt any of the kids had a waterbottle to constantly carry around, sip from, fill up and sleep with and shake and drink, and flip the lid up and down and sip some more, and spill a little and toss around and drink again. Enjoyment at it's finest!

(We are watching a thunder and lightning storm on the 5th floor of the guest house with a wb close at hand on the table next to us)

The girls loved them. We took them with us everywhere and especially when we went to the airport. At one point we were headed down the isle off the plane and Katie, in my arms, started panicking reaching behind us when I remembered The Waterbottle! We went back for it and all was well.

(Here we are at Dr. B's office waiting to see the BFather. This is their orphanage Nany. Yolanta with her trusty wb.)

And through every single check point we either had to chug our water or pour it in the garbage can for we were not to bring the liquid past the gates (nor could I get the bottle of bubbles out of PDX unless I wanted to check it. But I had my razor blade to shave my legs with right there next to my toothbrush. THAT I could get on the plane. But never mind bubbles or water!). Anyway, I digress.

(Airport pic. wb on ledge)

(Airplane pic. wb in hand)

(Airport dinner. wb on table)

(Here we are arriving in PDX. I'm holding the girls, David is holding 2 wb's)

So with every airplane (we took 3 getting home) we had to always fill our waterbottles once we got past the danger checkpoint or buy new ones. And yes, the girls were going potty every 5 minutes. And they needed to wash their hands at every single sink in the public restroom. With soap from every single dispenser. Every five minutes.

Anyway, back to Haiti. We had just met the birth father and were waiting in the lobby for Dr. B to finish his business and take us to the airport. Yolanta had to go potty. Of course. So we walked past the BFather and head to the toilet carrying the waterbottle. Of course. On the way back, as we're passing BFather, he reaches out his hand and takes the waterbottle from Yolanta and takes a long, refreshing drink. Then gives it back with a smile of gratitude.

(Meeting the BFather. Each girl with a wb in hand).

My husband goes for his backpack and grabs a waterbottle, fills it up from the Culligan dispenser from behind the counter and gives it to Yolanta to give to her father.

The adoptive father showing the Jesus in him to the biological father.
The gesture was deeply appreciated and he gladly accepted the gift of water.

By the time we got home, we'd amassed several waterbottles and the girls have found more around the house. One day, I peeked in at Yolanta who was secretly hiding something under her bed. I pretended not to notice and later, when the girls were occupied in another room, I looked under her bed and found 8 waterbottles, filled to the brim, in a blue basket.

I don't know exactly why she felt the need to hide them. Or why she felt the need to store them. My mind examined it in several different ways. Is she afraid the water might run out, and now she will have a stockpile of them? Is she afraid she might go back to Haiti and this is what she plans on taking with her? Is she really thirsty in the night? Well, tons of other questions and supposed answers crossed my mind. I said a prayer giving my worries over to Him and decided to let her have her secret stash. Which, when I checked on it now and then, had also accumulated other things I knew were precious to her. A notebook, a pen, a doll, some pictures, etc.

A few days ago, I noticed 4 waterbottles on the banister outside her room. These are 4 taken from her basket. Then this morning, I noticed the rest of them in the garbage can. I checked under her bed an all that remain are the pictures of random family members and friends. The basket was placed on the floor, with nothing in it.


Of what exactly I'm not quite sure, but it seems right that she doesn't feel the need to hoard them anymore. Peaceful. Trusting. Permanent.

Thank you, God, for instilling trust in my daughter towards her forever home. May You continue to bless our relationship as mother and child and may she follow You all the rest of her days.


Kismet said...


That was so moving. Each day they feel more and more secure with you all.

You are an awesome mother for all 3 of your girls. What insight and wisdom you displayed by not invading Yolanta's stash. I hope someday she'll be able to tell you what was going through her mind.



TheSalvantSeven said...

beautiful story. the wbs are like where's waldo...hahaha.

Tiffany said...

Some kids carry around a teddy bear for security -- and some a bottle of precious, life-giving water!

Such a precious story. I too, hope one day she will be able to tell you what she was thinking and why the water bottles were so important. It is so moving to think of the love and security the girls feel now, at home with you.

We have a 5 gallon water bottle on the cooler in our dining room. I hope the girls feel secure when they visit:)

The Everett Family said...

What a tangible expression of the way your relationships are growing!

The Haiti Lady said...

The story about the Bfather brought tears to my was indeed a wonderful gesture for him to have from the new Father to his children...assuring to him that he had indeed made the right decision.

Also, hoarding will come and go...I have one child who has been home for years and still hoards may be a never ending battle, but is not to be blamed on good or bad parenting...just old Orphanage stuff that may never go away.

LeAnne The Haiti Lady

TheWinnFamily said...

Sweet story Julie.

christa jean said...

The memories of their days of having to survive and cope with difficulty are fading as they are surrounded with such true love and security.
What a lovely picture of our relationship with the Father.

Genny said...

The things we take for granted! I got choked up reading this. Your family is precious.