Woke up (at 5:45 AM) this morning to the sound of toy trucks on concrete outside my window, and came to the conclusion that setting an alarm clock here at the orphanage will no longer be a nightly practice.
The young children running up and down the walkway were some of the 20+ non-disabled children who also live here at the orphanage along with the 30 or so children with disabilities.
After a quick breakfast, I went out to join them in play. Then we played some more , and then some more.
The group of children who have disabilities are usually brought together outside in the morning, where they sit with their caregivers. The ones who need wheelchairs are dependent upon others to take them around, to the table where arts and crafts are set up, to the slides and swings.
A little girl in a wheelchair caught my eye. While her body struggled to move, she was quick to watch and listen to others. She was also quick with a smile and laughed as I pretended to make my tape measure work by blowing on it (an old exam room trick). We later played on the swings, the slides and enjoyed a special cake in honor of Mother's Day here in Haiti.
It's only been one full day in our visit, but I'm amazed at how comfortable all the chldren seem to be with our group, holding out their arms to be picked up, calling us "Papa" and "Mama" as they point at things they want to get or do. They are obviously loved and well cared for here, but my heart goes out to them knowing that they don't have a family to enjoy.
Or maybe they do.
During the Mother's Day celebration, each child was asked to come up and sing a song or recite a poem. Each was introduced by the Director of Zanmi Beni, and while each child had a different first name, they all had the same last name - "Beni". There was Carl Beni, Jordan, Giselle and Patrick Beni. All share the same last name, the name of the family that loves, care for, and supports them - Beni
Happy (Haitian) Mother's Day.