|Talking with the Jean-Pierre family.|
There is no shortage of hardship among the people of Haiti. At first, the Jean-Pierre family appeared to be a typical family, living in the same difficult circumstances as the rest of their neighbors. Lawen is the mom of five children by two different dads. Three of her children, ages 5, 8, and 10, live somewhere else with their father. Her youngest children, both boys, live in the house with Lawen and their dad. Their dad is a fisherman. He rents a boat and goes out most days, but he usually only catches small fish in quantities that make it difficult to make a living.
After we learned the basics about their family and toured their home, the discussion appeared to be over. I was ready to leave, but Kate, FFP’s Director of Projects for Haiti, said, “Let’s ask them what they need.” I turned to her with a confused look on my face. We’d discussed what questions we might ask before we left the hotel. I was advised not to ask what anyone needs. The needs are so great that there is no way to meet even a fraction of them. We didn’t want to open that can of worms. Kate looked at me. “It will be fine,” she said. Then she proceeded to ask the question in Creole.
|Lawen Jean-Pierre and her youngest child.|
|Lawen's oldest child living with her. Three other children live with their dad.|
Lawen, who was holding her youngest child, turned so that we could see the left side of his neck. To my amazement, there was a large mass protruding from the surface. My heart sank. It didn’t look good, and these kinds of things make me queasy. “What is it?” Kate asked Lawen. After some back and forth in Creole, Kate explained to me that the baby has some sort of “tooth tumor.” Because of it, the child has trouble sleeping at night, which, of course, means Lawen probably doesn’t sleep well either. The hospital is not far, but his parents cannot afford to take him to see a doctor.
FFP generally focuses on projects that help families become self-sufficient. It doesn’t have the funds to meet everyone’s medical needs. I asked Kate to find out what it would cost to treat the child. I am currently waiting to hear back. I hope that the cost will be reasonable, so that I can help raise the money needed for treatment.