We are trading beauty for ashes. Come and see. It is here in the smiles of the innocent. We were privileged to ride along side Jeff and Jacky on what is now part of their daily routine. Everyday takes them someplace new. The hidden places in plain sight. Places tourists pass on their way to beaches, resorts or restaurants.
On this particular day after picking up supplies, the destinations were the I Can House and CSI a hub of community resources especially for children.
Right in the center of the Middle Region stands the colorful rectangular I Can building. We were greeted by the house mother Casandra. Seemingly from out of nowhere we were surrounded by a group of curious children. They ranged in age from three to eighteen years old. We brought them much needed vegetables, fruit, and flour. The children have been growing up here, this is their home. I was invited by them to see their rooms. A hand reached out to lead me. Each room had two-four beds that all were made. They were sparse without clutter of toys or possessions, only clothing, which didn’t seem to amount to much. They were so proud of how clean the rooms are kept. They are quite competitive about it. Friendly, sweet, smiling faces made my heart melt.
The youngest girl is three. Her name is Kaylee. She looked like she has CP. She cannot sit up on her own. Her limbs have no muscle and have become rigid. She has no insurance access and there is no more additional monies to continue physical therapy. She loves music and knows her name. Jacky held her the entire time and Kaylee clearly loved it.
One boy had requested a ball. Which we delivered to him. For the longest time he would not take it from the box. It was his gift and he was relishing every moment. Reluctantly the box was removed, acknowledging that this kind of gift is best shared. All the boys ran to play basketball. That one ball gave so much joy to so many.
It was hard to leave but we had another stop to make. Right on the Main Street in Quarter D’Orleans in a tarp roofed building, half of which was blown out completely. Here we met Jennifer and Troy. We came to deliver snacks and juice boxes. Jeff had been given a suitcase full of toys from a family with a little girl. Troy set out all the items on the table and allowed each child to choose one. The boys didn’t care that they were for girls and joined in. Troy removed a couple of games to be kept on site, that way the kids could enjoy sharing them when they come back.
While we were there a French woman took a group to the side. She taught them breathing exercises and is helping them work through the trauma of Irma. I thought these kids were from families in the neighborhood. Some are, but the rest are also orphans taken in by godmothers and fathers. Jennifer, Troy and other volunteers take great care of these kids who flock there daily. On a previous visit Jeff and Jackie brought the center a bookcase. It was already filled with books the children can read. They have done much with so little. Before Irma they had a vegetable garden. They also had a couple of laptops the children and adults could use, but looters made off with them. The kids know this is a caring place and enjoy coming regularly.
Beauty from the ashes, one love binding them all together.