I know I have left you hanging on whether or not I walked the planks or took the boat, but life has been rather busy since I last wrote. I walked the planks. It wasn't impossible because I did not fall off and none of them broke. First thing Friday morning, the mother and child came to the school and did want the priest and I to come to her home. She wanted her home blessed with Holy Water and the evil driven out. The child was still distressed and clinging to her. She was exhausted. While the volunteer who is an Episcopal priest (Ann) was talking with the mom - I had another physical abuse referral of the five year old whose mom twisted his arm the other day. He had a mark on his face - but he said he "dropped" on his bike. Very likely as they live in San Mateo. He had a cut on his knee so it was probably true this time. (Remember this for later.)
We left to walk the long trek back to the far side of the lagoon. We got to the home and mom was so nervous about us seeing her home. It was very clean and orderly. I do need to tell you though that it is one room that is about a 10x10 foot area. It has a bed, a crib, a stove with a butane tank, and a small table. The sheets were clean - everything was in it's place. She showed us pictures of her family and baby pictures of her children. She and her husband and two children live in this home. There was nothing to eat in the home and she said that she just buys what they need to eat so that no roaches or other bugs come into the house. She also said that it is important to feed her children and never lets them go to sleep with empty bellies even if she does not eat anything.
I asked her about the neighborhhood. She told me where different families lived that I know. I asked her if anyone back there was practicing witchcraft and she reluctantly said yes and said 2 people are and her house is between them. Then she told me that they were angry with her because she called the police on another neighbor when the husband was beating on his wife. She thinks they sent the evil to her home and it was affecting her 3 year old. The priest blessed the water through a service and the mom had told us about her grnadmother telling her on her death bed to always read Psalms 81. We read this passage and it was perfect. She took a mangrove branch and dipped it in the water and sprinkled the house, the doorway, the window, the beds, the kitchen and then the little boy and mom. All the time she is talking and explaining what she is doing. Ann was awesome at making the mom feel good about her protection of her child, ability to be a good mom and meet the needs of her children in hard circumstances, etc. The child would not get on the floor of the house and was distressed about being in the house. His face was tortured. When Ann finished blessing the house he seemed to be better and she put her hands on his head and blessed him. The child started singing a song he knew "Thank you God" several verses...his little face became so at peace and calm it was like nothing I have ever seen. We had a little new testament that he held tight to. Then Ann blessed mom but she was just crying such tears of joy. She just hugged us and thanked us and on the way home she told her friends that everything was better. Everyone just shook their heads in acceptance. It was a total blessing to me to be a part of this. I truly witnessed a miracle. I could barely talk about it.
On the way back, there is a little store and I told the mom that we needed to stop at the store. She had gotten light headed on the walk to her home and was more so at the home. I know the experience was overwhelming but I asked her if she had eaten anything and she thought for a moment and said "well, yes - I ate yesterday - I think - but I fed my kids last night" she began trying to explain their finances as her husband works every day but does not get paid much. I gave her $10 belize that I had in my pocket and told her to get something to eat - thinking she would get something to eat right then - but no - she spent $6 BZ on a multi-pak of ramen noodles to take home and tried to give me back the $4. Thinking ahead for supper...probably more than one day.
When I got back to the school yard I was faced with the principal looking for me - the little boy that had the mark on his face? One of the other parents made it her business to tell in the commnity that I looked at his face and talked to him before I left to do the home visit. Well, the little boys mom is not a favorite in the community so I guess everyone knows she abuses the boy - even if this time she didn't. The gossip was a good thing though. I have asked the mom and the little boy about his father. Mom just shrugged and the little boy said he knows his dad but he does not know where he is...The gossip unearthed the dad! Yeah!!! He came to the school from work - he is on the island. Mom's mom was there also...guess they are warring factions. I talked with dad about my concerns. he said mom has not allowed him to see the child. He cared for his son from the time he was " a year and some change" until he was just over three and then the mom wanted him back. He could fight it in court. He wanted to because when he first got the child - the first night - he told him they were going to get ready for bed and the little one (year old) took a shirt that was hanging on the back of a chair and put it in the corner of the room and curled up on it like a dog making his bed. Dad had tears in his eyes and mine were coming too. I am so glad that the gossip allowed me to find this child's dad. I am witnessing miracles over and over.
Every child was given a worm treatment on Friday. Maybe we will have fewer stomach aches for awhile. I counseled a sexually assaulted teen from the high school. I talked with my sexually abused child at the school. Checked on several of the others I am following before the weekend. We did height and weights of all the children to be ready for the medical team coming in. I took the child with the busted ear drum to the doctor for a check up - still a little hole - I got to look at it. Busy day. About noon - Ernesto called and asked me when I got a break...Break? I just held the phone out to the children I was with and said - kids, do I get a break? They all shouted "NO".
I do try to eat lunch every day. I refuse to let anyone interrupt my lunch. It is too good.
I went home with "N" and "D" to talk with their parents. These are the two that we can't get to do their work...beatings, absent moms...well, N's mom said she beats him but can't get him to do what he is suppose to. She told me that he threatened to kill himself to her and told her no one loves him - she whipped him and told him not to say things like that. I cannot describe to you what a loving child he is - smart - playful...on the way to their homes - D said - my step mom isn't home - I said where is she - "working" I said where? "selling food" then I remembered that she sells food around form their home by compadres bar. I said oh but I know where she sells food - D said "she only speaks spanish" - I looked at "N" and said "Can you help me with the spanish?" he said "YES!" I looked at D and said - Your buddy just sold you out! they both just laughed and took my hands and walked with me to their homes. they are precious little boys...I have to buy the drums! They just want to know that you really care. Mr. Cruz joined us as we walked and helped me - I am working on the spanish - actually can understand more and more.
I cannot tell you how tired I was Friday night. Whew! Mr. Vernon's birthday dinner was that night and they served red wine - I had to be so careful - those of you who remember me and red wine when I am tired - not good! We ate at Hamilton's which was wonderful! Then I got up at 6 am to go to Estelle's for breakfast with the volunteer team - I told them I was kidnapping their Priest - and all of them - they were passing the baton to the medical team coming in to work this next week. We will be doing health screening on all 512 children and visiting the babies in San Mateo. I met the docs and nurses - more great people.
We have been sharing stories of how each person came ot volunteer at Holy Cross - I think this is a book - great stories. We could sell it for Holy Cross.
So after breakfast...there was workshop from a NGO in Belize - Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Belize. Yep - it is here - I helped to advertise this and we got 62 people to attend. There was one police officer. i asked him - Are you hear by choice or did you want to come? He laughed and said he wanted to come. He is a communty police officer for the schools, etc. I told him he had just become my new best friend. He is following up on my sexual abuse report as no police officer has come to the school yet. He is going to get someone there and come to the school also. He told me that he is watching the same child I am for sexual exploitation. I thought something like that might be going on....
Miss Francis founda pediatric psychiatrist who has moved to the island...I talked to him and he is coming by Tuesday...I hope he can help me with some of these children.
I gave up - nothing but rest and relaxation since then. Karisse and Martin came buy to talk and that was fun - it is great to have friends to hang with - Ernesto came up with a couple of friends. We just all sat on my porch and drank a few beers and laughed and talked. Turns out Robert is a musician and needed a cd cover for his new cd and hooked up with Karisse to get it done. Serindipity! Ernesto, Robert and the new friend(tourist) Sahid, went to Kareoke at Pier Lounge. Yes, now I get requests for Jambayla...I can't believe it either. Ernest sings so good.
I slept until noon today - missed church. Ate BBQ chicken, potatoe salad and rice and beans for lunch - Ermesto brought it to me. I made an egg and soft cheese sandwich for us for supper. He said we are cooking tomorrow night. I hope this does not mean I am on the tortilla station. Now I am going to finish getting the medical screening forms done for tomorrow and go to bed. My hair is getting longer - have just found someone to cut it - maybe. I talked to Ben today and Wendy tonight so that was good. I love to hear from you all. Miss and love ya, Kim