I don’t have a biological brother.
I don’t have a biological sister.
I’m an only child.
But, I DO know what it is LIKE to have a Brother. My brother is Bertony and it is he who carries the vision for Fodivha orphanage and school here in Haiti. He loves his children. He loves the work. He is “Big Brother” to so many dozens of children…and because he is younger, he is “Little Brother” to me.
With the world so large, I’m sure many of you have brothers or sisters in different countries from where you live. Reunions with siblings are magical moments. It has been too long since I have seen Bertony…19 months since we have been able to safely travel to Haiti. Communication on email, in differing languages, is not the same. Relationships can become strained. But then in that moment of reunion, when your Brother lifts you off the ground into his arms, when you hug and squeeze each other until you can’t breathe, kiss misty tears away and look deeply into eyes, you know that you are home with family.
As with all siblings, we play, we fight and we sometimes have the “hard conversations”. I boss him around, because I’m older. He teases me and gets away with it, because he is younger. But, we are bound together in this crazy family of raising 35 orphan kids together. Go figure. They say, you can’t pick your Family. Well, however this works, I’m thankful that they picked me.
Simon and I returned to the orphanage today to make plans for the work that must be done. There is much to do after the last hurricane. Many of the older children who turned 18 years of age in this past year, have now been forced by government rules to leave. I didn’t get to say goodbye. There is a new batch of young children arriving in only a few days, from a very poor area up in the mountains…more children joining our family. I’m not sure what the proper protocol is to welcoming children into their new “home”, where they will live for the next decade or more. Many of them will leave what family members they have, up in the mountains. Most are given away. Many more families are begging for us to take them. They know that at the orphanage, they might have a chance at a future. They know that they will be fed and educated. Horrible decisions…ones that most families in our world have never had to make. In Canada, there would be transitional visits. There would be psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers involved, helping the children and the new family members transition. Here in Haiti, they trust that all these children will “find their own way”. They will arrive in a tap-tap truck with only the clothes on their back. Many will hope that what they have heard is true…that there will be dinner.