When I first came to Haiti in March, I worked on removing rubble from an earthquake shattered home just a short walk from where I reside in Belval Plaza. While working on the site, I met three adorable girls. I immediately knew they were sisters because they share the same facial features and the same sandy brown hair with blonde highlights (which is likely due to malnutrition). Only recently, however, did I learn their names: Chevlo, Maman and Darline.
Out of the three girls, I most often see the youngest sister, Chevlo. I usually see her at the artisan well across the street filling up containers of water. But no matter where I see her, as soon as she notices me, she giggles and either runs or skips over to me. I greet her with a hug and a kiss, and usually ask her where her sisters and brother are, and if she attended school that day. She usually asks me if I’m coming to her house that Saturday to pick her up for Plaza Playtime – a weekly organized playtime for local children that includes activities such as coloring, jump rope, chalk drawing, and singing and dancing. Actually, what she says in her little six year-old voice is, “Vin chache m nan kay mwen a 7 è samdi, tande.” Come to my house at 7:00 on Saturday to pick me up, hear me.
At a recent Plaza Playtime, I was able to spend a lot of time with the girls since there weren’t that many kids there. We colored, jumped rope and played games. Chevlo, Maman and Darline fought over who got to either sit next to me or hold my hand. As I was playing a game of hide and seek with Maman, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Darline raise her hand to someone. I went over to find out what was going on, and learned that one of the boys standing nearby had hit her. While I was reprimanding him, I could hear Chevlo in the background telling their brother, Patrick, that someone had hit Darline. Next thing I knew, Patrick was in the boy’s face asking him if he was crazy and why he hit his sister. Patrick is a very mild-mannered 13 year-old, so that was the first time I’d seen him angry. But given that he was protecting his sister, I wasn’t surprised by his behavior. Afraid that Patrick was going beat the crap out of the boy, I asked him (the other boy) to leave. As the boy walked away, Patrick turned to Darline and asked if she was okay. She said yes, and we resumed our playtime activities.
When Plaza Playtime was over, I walked them home. As we walked, skipped and held hands, we sang, attracting attention from adults and kids alike. When we reached their house, the girls stood on the porch and waved goodbye. As I walked away from their tattered home situated on a winding dirt path, I said a prayer for them; that they would always watch out for and protect one another like they did that day. As long as they do that, I honestly believe they will live a life far richer than any amount of money could ever provide.