It was another great week in a beautiful country! There were some very interesting volunteers here this week from Richmond, Michigan and Las Vegas. I really enjoyed hanging out with them. We went out to dinner one night which was a very interesting experience. We ate some very yummy french fries, however, which was a nice break from the rice and beans. I also went for a long (and tiring) run with two of the volunteers, Dr. Alice and Dr. Casey. It was nice to have some extra company.
The girls continue to open up more and more. While it took them some extra time to understand effective communication and what I meant by good and bad character, they seemed to really retain the information and enjoy the various lessons this week. This week was filled with lots of skits, which, to my surprise, the girls were very willing to participate in. There are a few girls at both the orphanage and in Rivage that have some serious acting potential. It continues to be interesting comparing the two different teaching environments. The girls at the orphanage are very smart and comprehend the information much quicker than the girls in Rivage.
They have become more and more attentive with every lesson–they’ve even started taking notes. They also ask AMAZING questions on the anonymous question slips. A few examples include:
If I kiss a boy who has HIV can I get HIV?
Is it okay to have sex before I have my period?
Why are some boys nice and soft at first and then become aggressive?
Why do some people not use condoms?
Is it bad to have sex with more than one boy?
It is very clear that these girls are thinking about their futures and striving to make the best decisions. Sometimes they ask questions that I don’t even know a definite answer to. I try to give the most objective opinion possible, especially since Haitian culture can be very sensitive, but it has been difficult to navigate the fine line between not saying enough and overstepping my boundaries. My time at the Orphanage was really
meaningful this past week, and I learn something new about every girl each lesson based on her participation in different conversations and activities.
Rivage is very different, but in its own special way. The girls in Rivage do not pick up information as quickly, so we spend a lot more time on every conversation reiterating the important information. When they do understand, however, they do a good job applying the various lessons in activities and skits. They also have a lot of heart and a very wide variety of different personalities. They get distracted pretty easily, but they do seem to care. One or two of the older girls try to act “too cool” sometimes, but they keep coming back so they must at least like the curriculum, whether they show it or not. The younger girls are the more attentive ones, and they take notes and participate a lot. There are some sassy girls, some shy girls, some very smart girls, some nice, innocent girls, and some rebellious girls. Each one of them is unique and all of their personalities greatly add to the curriculum. Furthermore, girls in Rivage are known for getting pregnant at young ages, so this curriculum is crucial for them. We started a new rule that says every girl has to give me, Isabelle, and Oxanne a hug before they leave. Those girls give some of the best, most comforting hugs ever. Some Americans really need to take lessons from them. Furthermore, the girls in Rivage started writing a song about the curriculum. They are not finished, but they sang it for me at the end of the last lesson. It was a very special moment. Seeing how much of themselves these girls have put into the curriculum means a lot. They sang about what they’ve learned and how they will be leaders. I can’t wait to hear the finished product.
We have completed 6 lessons and have 6 to go! It is crazy to think that my time here is already halfway over. Monday marks the transition to more health related lessons, so it will be interesting to see how the girls respond to talking about more embarrassing topics like condoms and periods. I am excited to see how it goes!
Stuart, we are enjoying your updates! It is awesome to read about your progress and to see your curriculum come to life. Good luck with the remainder of your time there.
Stuart you are tackling very challenging issues and I am so impressed with your drive and your leadership. I know you are truly making a difference. Keep up the good work!