Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Last Night

Wow, it was hard to even write that title - I am numb right now. I have choked back so many tears in the last few days that I can't even cry now. The children all made cards for me and came up to me on Friday telling me good-bye and asking me why i had to leave. One of my little boys that I have worked with asked me - "but, Miss Kim, why do you have to leave us?" I told him that I needed to work to make money so I could come back. He said, "but this is your work" and I said I do not make money when I am here and I have to have ajob where I make money. He said, "tell them to pay you here." boom done, simple as that. One of my boys - the one I want to take home and said it would be ok with his mom...he was acting terrible all week. So disruptive that they asked his mom to come to school to help keep him under control. I asked her and her son to come and talk to me on Friday. She told me that she knew he was acting up because I was leaving and that she ven told him that if he was good that she would take him to the states to se ehis older brother that he missed. He was standing by us as we talked. I asked her where his brother lived and she said - Mississippi! I was shocked and told them that is where I live. I could see him if they came. He brightened up and smiled...then his mom asked me if it was ok for them to call me in the states. I said of course - she told him that he could call me every week if he was good in class and did his work. This is the same mom that was not very happy with me in January when I began talking to her about not lashing and beating the child so much - we have worked on finding other ways....She told me that she was thankful and that she thinks he loves me like a mom and I told her that she is his mom and he loves her - I am just his friend. She just hugged me. Child after child after child after child - I think I got over 500 hugs friday. I read "oh the places you will go" to the young people about to graduate. One of the children's cards said - I love you Miss Kim and therapy was really fun." My toughest kids that were angry with me at times were the ones that wouldn't even go home at the end of the day.

The one I couldn't quit crying over though....was my little 3 year old from the community - remember the house blessing? His mom brought him to school in the morning and said his 5 year old brother had told him that I was going away to the states and he had only talked about that for two days wanting his mom to let him see, Miss Kim before she went home. He came running into the office and crawled up on my lap just clinging to my neck and holding on for dear life. I just rocked him and his mom said, he can't stand that you are leaving and we are all sad. then she told me that they were going to get him baptised and asked him who he wanted to be his godmother - explaining about baptism and godmothers - he said "Ms. Kim" so she asked me if I would come back when he could be baptised with me here. I asked him - "do you wnt me to be your Godmother?" He just shook his head yes and hugged me tighter. His mom started crying and we just hugged and cried. The connections I feel with the people here are hard to explain. He would not leave me to go home.

Then I was given a farewell lunchoen. We had a dish that I have never had called "black dish" and homemade corn tortillas. Everyone was like this is the best food we have ever had and Ms. Rosallea just smiled and said I saved the best for Ms. Kim. I found out that it is a special local food that is used for special occassions. the teachers and Ms. Grace and Ms. Laura were to gracious and said such nice things. One person said that they had never met anyone not from Belize that would hold these kids and love them no matter what - that I truly love them all and that they know I love the teachers too. I do love them and it is so hard to leave so the love I feel in return. Mr. Vernon gave me a piece of jewelry that he made that is a musical G-cleff with a heart so I could remember my drummers.

My drummers....remember that they were the discipline problems to begin with - I had a professional drummer - the one who made the drums...come to hear them on Wednesday at my condo - we played on the beach side and had pizza. He was so impressed that he is going to continue the drumming school. We had other drummers - adults - come by and stop and they were very impressed. The children were so worried that they wouldn't get to keep drumming but God answers prayers as I could stand to dissappoint them.

It was a very trying week. I can't g0 into how hard it was but if you want to see it go to the Ambergris Caye website and check out the San Pedro Daily Sun for Thursday of last week. The headlines inlcude - Police vs. Holy Cross or something like that. I will fill you all in when I get there. I felt like I ws back in Prentiss county Mississippi in 1985. some of you understand a good ole boy system. enough said.

Monday - I was in Belize City doing a workshop for all the Anglican School Vice principals. It was really good to make that connections and meet them. It was fun and I have become fond of the water taxi - the ride across the ocean is relaxing. The ocean is just a healing force for me - physically, spiritually, emotionally...what will I do without my ocean - I do not even need my blood pressure pills here...

I had a very hard time telling Amrie good-bye tonight. She is the PhD student who has been working with me from Germany. She has a cousing here also - Christoff - who has become a good friend. He is working with Dr. Danny while working on his medical degree. they are both awesome people and I will miss them so much. We have become very close and I can't stand to think i will be in MS and she is Austria.

Biggs gave me a bear hug and told me to suck it up that I would be back. Leave it to Biggs to st me straight. He actually allowed me to cry though.

Well, I am packed and ready for bed. Mr. Victor, my taxi driver/counselor will not allow me to go to the airport with the folks from Paradise Villas so he is picking me up at 8:30 am. I have said my good-byes and given my "I will be back!"

I will be home tomorrow night - so see some of you very soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I know you mom would let me go with you......

What can I say? It has been hard for me to blog lately as the feelings are too strong. One of my little boys said, "Miss Kim, when are you leaving?" I told him in a couple of weeks. He said, "I want to go with you, I know my mom would let me go with you." The really hard part of this is that I know his mom would let me take him to Mississippi with me. I let another little boy call tonya today. He was all grins but when he told her "I miss you" I thought I would lose it. You have to picture this. He is abused, neglected and all alone in the world. He connected with Tonya and Amrei, probably the only two people who have noticed him. He was on the phone and shaking his head to tonya's questions and did not realize that you have to talk. I wondered if he had ever had a phone call. One of my girls who has been the hardest to get close to - she gets angry and won't even look at me at times...she spent all day yesterday coming to find me. She wanted a picture of me and then would not leave me today to go back to class - just saying over and over - please don't leave me. Another little boy just keeps coming out of class every time I walk by and just grabs me and won't let go...every time he asks me how many days until I go home. I had one of the stronger ones just burst into tears today. It goes on and on...I blink back tears. I swallow hard to get rid of the lump in my throat and breathe. When I arrive home everyone asks me how my day was a t school. It reminds me of when I was a child welfare worker and I had a bad abuse case and when I got home I was asked - How was your day? I would just say - "fine". Social work is a profession in which you are always around people and you connect deeply with people but it also the one of the lonliest jobs as it is so hard to explain your days... so we just say it was a good day and go on - holding all of the pain and the memories. If we try to talk about it even in a general way to anyone who does not do this work we are rarely understood. I am thankful for my colleagues though - especially everyone who has come to help me here as I know we can talk about what goes on here and there will be those who understand.

When I was walking home today, I was so hot and I had sweated enough to drench my clothes several times. I smell horrible and look worse. I was thinking about how much I sweat here and don't even care. Other people don't care either. I walk for miles. It doesn't seem to be that far when I walk on the beach. I hear music from everywhere. Everyone says hi or buenas dias. One man told me "I hope you have a good day for all that is left of it." It is different as he really looked at me and meant it. So I come home and take a shower - have I mentioned that it is very hot here? I went to my local grocery and everyone knows me and tell me they are going to miss me. I got my hamburger from my street vendor - she only speaks spanish so she has helped me by speaking only spanish to me. When Greg was here he went to get hamburgers and forgot what I said and told her - it was for Kim and she knew what to leave off. I get teased a lot as i can't go anywhere without someone yeliing (mostly children) "Miss Kim". I fussed at a man at a bar the other day and 45 minutes later someone came to tell me about hearing about it. I sing Kareoke and I can't sing but the DJ knows what songs I want to sing and my friends at Kareoke sing with me even though I probably mess them up. I know all the bartenders and restaurant owners and waiters in my favorite places and I get hugs when I walk in. Sometimes I get the best piece of fish. The band members know me and know what songs I like. Coconut Leo came down out of his tree to talk to me today and he brings me coconuts and watches over me and my friends when we walk home at night - I give him comfort! I can see the ocean and millions of stars. I watch the greatest full moons and feel the coolest breeze at night. I can get fresh pineapple, bananas and papaya and all the shrimp and fish I can eat. Rice and beans and tortillas are always within reach. Everything is fresh - no preservatives. I had a coconut mojito with fresh coconut. I took a plane to the municipal airport - where else can I land one foot from the ocean? (I think these guys train on aircraft carriers.) I am sitting in my room and I can hear ladies' night at Wet Willies. I meet friends from all over the world. We talk about real stuff of life. What do I love about Belize? I guess I have gone on long enough. I am going to go sit on my veranda - maybe lay in my hammock and just listen, watch, feel the breeze, taste a Belikin and smell the air. Life is good.

love and miss you all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

It is a strange mother's day when I have none of my children in my presence. This is my fault this year as I am in Belize and my children are not. I guess this is something I will get used to as my youngest is 19 years old and all my children have their own lives, but all those memories of their childhood come back on this day especially. It seems like a flash - a video on fast forward and when it ends it just leaves this weird feeling - like I miss the times mixed with what did I do wrong and what did I do right? It is what it is and I find myself redefining my roles as a mother and even who I am. so long I have been - amanda's mom, david's mom and ben's I guess that means that was my main role - I guess it is just another change and transition time...

So I am facing another transition...going home to Oxford, Mississippi. I will be on a plane two weeks from today. Greg and Wednesday left today and I could not even leave the condo. I had in my mind when they went home I was to be readying myself for my return to the states. I had a great time with them while they were here and it seems so empty here with them gone.

My students at Ole Miss are making it easier for me to come home. I have been getting emails about being missed. Some are graduating and I missed this important day - which I am sorry about. One of m students wrote to me about the important things that I taught her. Another told me how important I am in her life. Another student wrote that she and another student walked past my office door and both looked at each other and teared up. This is all overwhelming to me and gets the lump to grow in my throat. I love teaching at Ole Miss and I do miss it. It is weird that the things they tell me have really little do do with the curriculum. I was sent a message from another friend that said the following:

We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath...


I received this via email after leaving school Friday. I have had a lot of moments that have taken my breath during this sabbatical. I am a lucky person to have had this experience. I hope I have scattered good and kindness. I am so grateful to the children and families who have taught me so much. I have been allowed into the Belizean culture. It has been hard at times and I struggled often. I have, however, been reminded of what I love about social work. The people, of course, and when people allow you into their lives and if you connect and can help it is the best work - it does not even feel like work. I am sure this experience will allow me to be a better professor.

I am about to go to my last Kareoke night at Wet Willies. This has been my fun time each week. Man, I am going to miss this too.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there!

love and miss you all.