Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Motherless Boys of Haiti


As the evening sun began to set in Camp de la Grace in pignon, Haiti I parked a chair on the side of the courtyard to watch the group of students get ready for night fall. They were on a break from school which means: time to relax and have some fun. This group of students is fortunate to have a generator in this rural Pignon community that stays on until 9 at night; most of Haiti is covered by darkness when the sun sets.

Under the gazebo, the students started setting up for the evening's activities. First came a set of speakers and followed was the radio. You then saw the group of students, one by one, started to gather as if they were following orders. That night's entertainment seemed to be a variety of my favorite music; kompa (Haitian dance music), I had never heard Haitian rap music until that night and my all time favorites are the Haitian love songs sung in French. The entertainment continued with R&B, I could not believe they were listening to Beyonce, Chris Brown and Neyo; just a reminder that the world is becoming more of a global community. They played many reggae hits especially Bob Marley, they loved his music, they sang along as they listened to the sobering “redemption song”. Once the music started I could no longer sit on the sidelines observing, I stood up and made my way by the gazebo.

I was instantly surrounded by none other than a group of boys. There seemed to be an abundance of boys in this particular community in pignon. As a mom of boys I know far too well how to handle myself around boys. If they want to dance, dance with them, and I gladly did as “Pouchy” taught me some new reggae dance steps. If they want to have silly conversations about bugs and slimy things join them and pretend you can handle it, which I did. They had many questions about life in the US, my children and Christianity. They could not believe I was Haitian. They would often laugh at my English accented kreol. They were proud of me that I came back to serve.

My interaction with the boys disturbed my thinking about boys all over Haiti growing up without mothers. Drawing from my relationship with my own boys, boys tend to have this intimate relationship with their mothers; no matter how badly they can behave, they know their mothers loved them deeply and unconditionally. Boys tend to look to their mothers for confidence; always asking non-verbally “can I make it? Can I do it? Will I be ok?” Boys seem to know that their mothers know their intentions; which sometimes does not work in their favor.

Looking at Haiti in its current state there are thousands of boys growing up on the streets, alone without a mother’s touch and love. Most of the crimes committed in Haiti are by young boys who grew up on the streets, again without mothers. Boys are abused just as frequently, if not more than girls, why, because boys have more freedom to roam about than girls and drug and human traffickers’ prey on them. I know with the many problems the children in Haiti are faced with, not having a mother may not be on our top five lists but my challenge is for us to not forget about the motherless boys in Haiti.

In the words of Bob Marley and in the spirit of those students who strive and struggle to move forward even in the midst of such chaos, we shall continue to sing songs of freedom, redemption song.

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