Friday, January 23, 2009

Haiti's Children

Before I came to Haiti, I wondered what children with no playgrounds, toys, puzzles, books, board games, computers, or scooters, would do all day. How could a child with almost nothing be happy? I wondered.

I knew the saying that material things don’t bring happiness, but having nothing? It just seemed incomprehensible.

Well here is what I discovered.

First of all, most children participate in chores. They feed the animals, help their mothers scrub laundry, they herd animals and transport fresh water from nearby water pumps to their homes. It’s not like child labour or anything, but each child has a definite roll in the family and they all help out. They start helping as early as three years old.

Six year old Mona and her three year old sister walk two kilometers every day to get fresh drinking water for their family. They take their small jugs and balance them on their heads. During that time Mona comes up with all kinds of fun ideas and games that she can do when she’s done.

Here is Mona.

Here are her two sisters.

They may not have board games, but they do have imagination! Here Mona and Jayden are seeing how many rocks fit in a bottle.

They may not have toy trucks to play in a sandbox with but they have some old machinery. Here Megan, Jayden and a little boy called Ken, play together on a broken down Komatsu. Megan and Jayden make all the sounds the machine may, or may not make, and pretend they are driving it while Ken sings, ”M-gin le jwa, jwa, jwa, jwa anba ke mwe” (I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!) Sad? I don’t think so.

They have only a little, but they treasure what they have.

This little girl has a broken doll. A hand is missing and it is also missing most of its hair! She doesn’t have doll clothes so instead the doll wears a little scrap of material. I watch the little girl and then follow her down to the river. At the river she carefully unwraps the scrap of material and washes it. She smiles happily and lovingly pats her broken `baby``.

They may not have toys but they have imagination! Take a look here.

This little boy has found an old bicycle wheel. He pushes the spokes with a stick and runs after it! It goes faster and faster! I hear his shouts of laughter as he chases it!

They don’t have four-wheelers, plastic sleds or snow for that matter, but that doesn’t mean they’ve never had a sled ride!

Here two little boys are pulling Jayden on a palm branch! He loves it! How creative!

They may not have a bicycle or scooter, but have you ever ridden a donkey?

They probably don’t know what a scavenger hunt is but they know how to catch tarantulas without getting stung! How’s that for entertainment?

After watching them for weeks and weeks I realized that these children weren’t sad or bored at all! The chores they did made them feel like an important part of their families and their creativity and imagination gave them endless ideas of what they could do. The little they did have they treasured, and they shared with each other. I guess that once again proves the theory that you don’t need a lot of “things” to bring happiness.

1 comment:

  1. hey will, such cute pictures! everything sounds so sad, but really good to know that they're all happy!! Looking at those pictures makes me even more want to go out there and help and everything else!!