|Gilbert and I|
Each week I like to pick a child from the orphanage or Miriam Center to take with me to the One Stop, the local convenience store. Since the beginning my first choice has always been Gilbert. He was one of the reasons I was so excited to come back to Haiti. For two weeks he kept putting me off at each occasion that I would ask him. He was too tired, too busy, and couldn’t find his shoes. Then after my persistence he said yes.
I didn’t understand his hesitancy, we’d gone to the market before and I know he’d be on several occasion. I took him this summer. The main condition with going to the market this time was that he had to take a moto (motorcycle taxi) back to the mission because the walk was too much. I agreed with that since this summer when I took him I had to carry him the whole way back and the goat hill is quite a daunting walk up- especially carrying a child, or rather fifteen year old. The thought of taking a moto slightly was exciting and terrifying. Exciting in that it had been on my to-do list and taking one was really feeling like a true resident because that’s what the locals do. The idea of riding a moto is terrifying in having to get on the back of a moto carrying myself and a child, essentially trusting my life in this stranger’s hands. Also while serving on a mission in Camden, my brother and dad were in a motorcycle accident and I don’t know that I have ridden since then.
After Gilbert took the normal nap that all the kids take, we began our trek. I was quick to see a deeper sense of his reluctance as he began to struggle as he took small steps towards the hill and we began to descend. Half way down the hill he was dripping sweat from his four head and as we walked the next three blocks, he didn’t say much or even greet people in the street. I felt their stares as they looked at Gilbert. Surely this was not the first time they’d seen him or any of the numerous children of special needs that we take out into the community. But it dawned on me, when Gilbert and I went to the store previously we were with at least twenty other people and children. He didn’t stand out with the white girl or you didn’t notice just him as this tiny little man. Walking through the village alone or running in the mornings, I stick out like a sore thumb. Even when we walk through with orphan girls, we stand out. But now even more there I was with this boy who isn’t even four feet tall.
I recall taking Joseph to the store the week prior, as people stared and as we were walking back this man kept cutting of Joseph and I was we walked home. He kept stepping and weaving in front of him with his wheel barrel. Joseph can’t properly communicate his words. But this man, saw him as different and began to mess with Joseph and even make fun of the sounds he makes in attempts to communicate words. It wasn’t for more than 100 feet before we had to turn onto another street but it made me sad to think that outside the gates, if they were alone that they would be ridiculed or picked on.
Gilbert is seen as rejected because of his disabilities. However if you know Gilbert, he is an extremely intelligent young man with so much sweetness and a hint of mischief. I think that Gilbert not only stands out for the obvious as we walked through the village, but because he is loved and special (in the best kind of way). He is chosen by the blan (white person) and he is getting treated.
Courtesy: Jennly Nichole
As we arrived at the store, Gilbert did not want to go inside to avoid further stares. So I went in and got him everything he wanted. We then walked to the motos across the street and Gilbert handed him the money and told where to go. They seated Gilbert, then the moto drive and then I swung me leg around and hopped on. The ride was short and there were only a few moments that I was slight terrified. I held on to our bag of food with one hand and the other I had my hand on the driver’s should or on the bars below my seat.
Once back at the mission, we went upstairs in the common/dining area and had our drinks and invited Den Den for some snacks. As I went to hand Gilbert the cookies he asked me to buy, I gestured to open them but he said he didn’t want them right now. But that they were for his friend… the night nurse. Just like Gilbert to pull a fast one on me and have me buy the night nurse (whom he had a crush on) cookies, thinking they are for him to share with the other kids.
|My Sly Guy, Gilbert|
Courtesy: Jennly Nichole
If you would like to sponsor Gilbert please visit: nwhcm.org or his individual pages:
You can sponsor him for any amount, or fill a Family Tree sponsorship for $30 a month (that's only $1 a day).