Thursday, February 11, 2010

home from haiti

EDITED TO ADD: For every comment left on this post, Charlie and I will be donating $2.00 to Hopital Sacre Couer in Haiti, which is the hospital where my cousin Regina volunteered. I'll take the total of all comments, multiply them by two and post the total on Monday, 2/15. Times are tight for everyone, but we expect a good tax return this year and since we can't be there on the ground in Haiti to lend our support, this [along with our prayers] is the next best thing. So, please show some love to the people of Haiti and tell me in the comment section what you'll be doing for Valentine's Day. Merci Beucoups!

*****
Tomorrow, marks the one month anniversary that the magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the tiny country of Haiti. Estimates indicate that more than 1.2 million people are still living in temporary camps and approximately 230,000 have lost their lives. Although there is some conflict over the exact number, this is without question, one of the highest death tolls from a modern disaster.

Last Tuesday, I posted an e-mail that I received from my cousin Regina, while she was on a 10-day mission to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti. This morning, I received another e-mail from my cousin, now that she is safely - and comfortably - back home in the United States. Try as I might, I could not wrap my head around the devastation in this country nor the vast amount of suffering. But reading my cousin's experience from 10 days serving those who were effected, really helps me to better understand.

Joseph Stalin said, "One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic."

I can see - through my cousin's eyes - just a few of the individual lives that were impacted by the devastation and I don't feel, quite so much, like all of those people effected are just statistics anymore. So, thank you Regina.

Thank you for your compassionate heart and gentle hands.

Thank you for your talent and hard work.

Thank you for introducing us to Ray Ray and Rita and Tomas and Jaqueson.

Thank you for sharing your story.

**********

This is my new friend, Rita. She is 64-years old and has been raising her two grandsons since her daughter drowned in 1996. Rita was on her way to Confession when the earthquake occurred. Her legs were trapped under cinder blocks for six days when American soldiers found her and came to her rescue. There were four other women with her and a 10-year old girl.She helplessly watched and listened to them die.

In this picture, I have just finished changing the dressings of her bilateral above the knee amputations. This was an agonizing ordeal for her. Also, a team of us had just moved her from a straw mat on the floor to an army cot and I'm very happy to report that we've since received a few new beds and Rita is recuperating in luxury... in an honest to goodness real bed! However, there is no linen to be found so we became creative and fashioned bed sheets out of rags!

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Rita has an amazing spirit and is a role model for the other patients. What a great source for coping skills and surviving life's tragedies. She has not heard from her grandsons since the quake. Her older sister lives on the outskirts of Port Au Prince and Rita feels very fortunate to have a place to go when she is physically able.

Rita speaks a bit of English and when I medicate her at the end of the night, she summons me down and outstretches her arms to give me a generous, warm embrace. She quietly whispers, "I love you. God bless you my new girl."

**********

We departed 95 degree Haiti at 9 in the morning, and arrived home to frigid Boston around midnight Sunday 2/7. Shoveling out from 6-8 inches of snow this morning never felt so invigorating and freeing to me. I'll take this weather and American taxes any day over life in Haiti. I live in a beautiful country and really take way too much for granted.

I've been home a few days and am still feeling the effects of what I experienced. My body is physically spent as I've never worked so hard in my life. Every time we turned around there was something more that could be done. The morning quickly became afternoon and soon it was evening and then the sun set and the next thing we knew, it was midnight or 2 AM and, I was STILL working!!! Half the time I couldn't remember when the last time was that I ate or went to the bathroom!

Constantly I was pulled in different directions....to medicate someone or perhaps 50 patients; to take down dressings and re-bandage gruesome wounds; to bathe victims caked with 3 weeks worth of earthquake soot; to improve the living quarters of 100 women who were sleeping on straw mats on a concrete floor; to assemble a shelving unit from card board boxes & surgical tape, to create an accessible stock area for nursing supplies; to digging a foxhole-like ditch for the emptying of bedpans; to hanging a 2 mile long clothes line for the hand washed laundry to dry. No joke...these are some of the many things that I found myself doing. Sometimes reality would hit and I'd shake my head and think 'I can't believe I'm doing this'!


As a nurse, I found myself thrown into situations that were far beyond my scope of knowledge, however I worked to the best of my ability and really believe I made a difference in the lives of many. As a woman, I felt my maternal instincts pulling me into that role of nurturer and protector. I fell in love with so many of the beautiful children. One in particular who I will give an update later in this letter. As a human, I felt very conflicted that such poverty exists...I'm talking about life in Haiti before the earthquake. How is it that a country can be so corrupt and allow their people to live in these conditions? It is an awful place...dirty, antiquated, sad.

I was in Milot, Haiti. A small town 75 miles north of Port Au Prince. I did not go anywhere near the epicenter of the quake. Our area was not damaged by the earthquake. Hopital Sacre Coeur is a hospital funded by the Order of Malta, here in the States. It functions and is well equipped for 75 patients. Since the earthquake, the hospital has expanded to nearly 400 pts. The original hospital building has been transformed into an ICU, PACU, 3 OR's, 3 Procedure Rms (mostly for casting), and the upstairs is used for non earthquake related patients. We had a birth up there last week. A beautiful healthy little girl! Across the street there was a school building which has been taken over to house the majority of patients and also a nutrition center which was taken over and used as the Pediatric Center. And, another school which is used as the Emergency Room & Triage areas. A soccer field has become a helicopter landing area where victims are brought in from Port Au Prince, the USS Comfort ship, and many of the field hospitals around the immediate earthquake area. The Caritas Hospital Network in Boston, has shipped down 5 very large tents which went up during my time in Haiti. We called it Tent City and it looks just like M.A.S.H. The plan is to move all of the patients out of the school buildings and get the children back into school. The tents are being stocked with supplies and cots/beds and can house up to 500+ patients. The moving of patients had just begun as we were finishing up our 10 day stay.

The volunteers sleep (not much!) in a gated, secured compound. There are 3 buildings, sort of like retreat houses, with 3 people per room and several common bathrooms/shower rooms to share. Tents were also pitched to accommodate volunteers. I was lucky to be assigned a room with a bed in the convent. I roomed with 2 other Caritas nurses and we did have a bath & shower in our quarters that was shared with a few other nurses who were sleeping on cots in the convent kitchen & living room. There was a cook for the volunteers and meals were meager and a little different than what we'd normally choose to eat. Breakfast was delicious juicy grapefruit & Haitian porridge. Lunch was rice & beans and some sort of mystery meat, either goat, mule or some kind of bird. Supper was rice & beans and vegetables. I was very happy that I thought ahead and brought with me those foil packages of tuna!! There was also a fridge full of Coke and cold beer...which was a welcome treat enjoyed by all.

Many of us left behind our shoes and clothing. I gave the few articles of clothing I brought to my friend Rita. She had nothing of her own and was thrilled to have some "new" things to wear. My shoes went to my interpreter Jaqueson. He was a tremendous help to me and I was really happy that my brand new Reeboks would be well worn. I also gave him the Quaker Instant Oatmeal that I brought and never ate. You'd think I gave that boy a thousand dollars. He actually cried real tears to receive my leftovers.

My little boy Raymond looks to be 2 yrs old, but they say he is very articulate, so it is possible he is 3 yrs old. He was found in the rubble of a little shack in Port Au Prince. There were other bodies around him, however he was the sole survivor.

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He arrived at Hopital Sacre Coeur on a chopper, the same day that I arrived. He was brought to us from one of the field hospitals in Port Au Prince with his right arm already amputated at the elbow. I met him when he came out of the OR on my second day. His wound was badly infected and he had just had more of his right arm amputated. He is now left with a shoulder stump. He woke up hysterically crying looking for his "Mama". I leaned over his bed and tried to comfort him. He was wild and trying to climb out of the bed. I was impatient, stressed and frustrated as the ONLY nurse in an ICU with 12 patients. I asked the surgeon to escort the baby's parents in to the unit.

The doctor turned to me with this forlorn look and said: "He is all alone, there is no one."

He's an orphan?

I couldn't believe it. Everything stopped. My heart nearly burst out of my chest. This little boy, so cute, so innocent...crying for his "Mama", was all alone in this world. In this horrible dirty place, this little guy was totally alone. I couldn't help myself. He was reaching out to me and I just scooped him out of that big hospital bed and held him close. I cried like I haven't cried before. My heart broke for him. I wanted him. I wanted to take him home to my nice clean house in my nice clean world. I thought to myself, I can leave right now. I'll call Colin and tell him I have to come home with this little boy and we are going to adopt him and give him everything that we've given Andrew and MaryKate. It seemed so logical!

He touched my face and stroked my straight, smooth hair...something he'd never felt before. He looked at my white skin quizzically and tried touching my light eyes. He was examining this pale creature that was tightly hugging him.


The family members of the other patients in the ICU came over to me. One lady put her arm around me and was comforting me. In spite of our language differences I knew what her eyes were saying. She had that Haitian resilience and hope that would impress me over and over again during my stay in her country. Then, a man came over to me. He was the husband of one of my ICU patients. He took the boy from me and spoke through the interpreter. He said "I'll hold the child for you sister, so you can get your work done." I wiped my tears away and shook my head in thanks. You are right, I thought...get a grip Regina, you have a lot of work here and you are all alone with all these sick patients. I handed over the child and went back to nursing the ICU patients.


The boy was later transferred over to the Pediatric Unit. Every night I went over to put him to bed. I couldn't help myself. I needed to visit with him and know that he was okay. It was a task I looked forward to and I think Ray Ray also enjoyed seeing me. He'd stretch out his good arm and nestled his little head into my neck as I rocked him to sleep. He giggled when I whispered in his ears and simply loved my rendition of American lullabies. A bright light for me leaving Ray Ray behind, is the man, named Tomas, who took him from me that day in the ICU. He was also captivated by the little boy. Tomas has become a surrogate Dad for Ray, and has spent much of his time with him in the Pedi Ctr. Tomas told me that he lost his 2 little girls in the quake and if he is allowed, he would like to give Ray Ray a home. That would be so wonderful. I know that Tomas loves him and would be good to him. If the child advocates doing investigations on behalf of the orphans at the hospital do not find any living relatives, then Ray will be placed for adoption. I was in close contact with the advocate assigned to Ray and I left a letter recommending Tomas be considered as an adoptive parent. If there is no family left, then I truly believe Tomas and his wife, who is healing from her injuries and doing well, would be loving parents for this beautiful child.

Please pray that it works out for Tomas and Ray Ray. I really believe they need each other and truly see the hand of God at work.


In closing, I want to thank you all for your thoughts and kind prayers for me. I honestly believe that it was the power of prayer and strength from those at home, that got me through the journey. It will take some time for me to process all that was experienced. I have many, many stories and memories...some haunting, some sad, some hopeful, some funny. I met so many amazing people...the volunteers - so selfless and living examples of God's infinite love and compassion, the victims - so injured and sick, yet so full of hope and determination, the families of victims - so generous of their meager belongings; offering support, guidance and motivation to every one of the victims, not just their own. The unselfish concern for humanity was so moving and inspiring. Thank you all for your interest.

Please don't forget: Continue to pray for the people of Haiti and do whatever you can to support the earthquake relief efforts.


I hope to see you all and share my pictures and stories of the experience. Tonight I look forward to reuniting with my Haiti colleagues for a debriefing. There is so much to sort out in my mind and heart. I've had so many personal experiences in my lifetime that have changed me, but there are none that even come close in comparison to this journey.

Again, my heartfelt gratitude to all.

Love,

Regina

126 comments:

  1. I'm so impressed and in awe of Regina and her response to the Haiti crisis and of course, you for doing this for the people of Haiti. I will pursue the link you posted to the hospital and send a donation also. It seems that those people have suffered far more than most and need all the help we can muster!! Good for you Jen and Charlie and Regina.

    Love, Mrs. D.

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  2. Thank you for all you do.

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  3. Wow, Regina is just amazing. I can't imagine the strength it takes to help all those people and seeing those little children would break my heart. I continue to pray for all the Haiti victims.

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  4. I will be making dinner for my boyfriend. I'm making him a steak.....should be interesting since I don't eat steak, therefore I've never cooked a steak! I think I will have Papa Johns on speed dial just in case it backfires!

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  5. Oh my God, this is just heartbreaking. There is a lot going on over here in Ireland to help the people of Haiti too. It is just awful. Thank you Regina for giving me a glimpse of the reality of it. Best wishes.

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  6. What beautiful letters from your cousin... they made me cry. She's a wonderful person, to give of herself that way.

    My Valentine's Day plans are low-key, Martin and I will do dinner and a movie, I think.

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  7. I get choked up every time I read a story about Haiti. Reading about Ray Ray particularly hit close to home because I have an articulate, handsome, and loving three year old son. I'll say many prayers for Ray Ray and the children of Haiti tonight.

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  8. Jen, thank you so much for sharing this letter.
    Regina, God bless you and keep you. You have touched many lives with your love, compassion and ability. Thank you

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  9. What a wonderful thing for you to do. Continued prayers for Haiti.

    Lucie

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  10. So glad that those who can serve are doing so, good for Regina.

    No big Valentine plans here. My husband will take my son and I out for dinner sometime this weekend. Otherwise, we're pretty low-key.

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  11. Yea the first comment. I love your writing and generally don't leave comments but that $2.00 can sure help. Keep writing, keep striving!

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  12. What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing Regina's emails.

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  13. Here's my comment. I'm trying to figure out what to do from here...

    I hope its OK, I'm going to link your blog from my next post.

    Maija

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  14. What a beautiful letter from Regina. She and the other volunteers are truly angels on earth. Thank you for sharing her email with us.

    Husband has the duty for Valentines, so I will most likely try to do something special with our 2yr old that day.

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  15. What a truly amazing, yet unfortunate experience. Your cousin and the volunteers taht went to Haiti are amazing people. Thank you for sharing her accounting of her experience.

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  16. :*) What a beautiful woman!

    Thank you Regina.

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  17. I will very likely be baking cookies for my RN niece in Ft. Sam Houston, TX. She's there for 9 weeks of training, then she's off to Landstuhl (SP?) for 4 years. My nephew is in the Air Nat'l Guard (flies the C-5). He usually stops in Ramstein when he flies overseas so the cousins will be able to see each other a couple times a year.

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  18. Oh my! This made me cry. I don't know what I can do other than pray at the moment. College life has drained my accounts, and I don't mean the parties. Tuition is a beast!

    Anyway, I am not doing anything for Valentine's Day. I was going to go to a party hosted by the local chapter of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, but considering I had surgery two weeks ago and missed classes, I have lots of catching up to do. So technically... I shouldn't go to the party. Can my friends convince me to go? Probably, but for now, it hasn't happened. LOL.

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  19. You're wonderful for giving.

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  20. Hi Jen
    I'm delurking (probably should have done it ages ago). I think your blog rocks and you and Charlie's commitment to social justice is incredibly impressive - what fantastically aware kids you are raising.
    Cheers Lucy

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  21. I'll be spending my valentines day with a good friend of mine. A movie and dinner :)

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  22. Oh wow ... I'm in tears just reading a tidbit about Regina's journey. I feel like I wish I could do so much more, like I am wasteful, bad. Why do I feel so guilty for what I have, wishing I could help so many more down there.

    Please send Regina our thanks, for doing her part. She is an angel to those in Haiti.

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  23. God Bless You, I admire what you have done. Melissa

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  24. Jen, I can't talk to you right now because after reading her letter, I'm crying. Again.

    XOXO AM

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  25. Wow....what a life changing experience for your cousin. Life changing for her and for the many lives she impacted. I'm glad my little comment can help out.

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  26. For Valentine's day (if we are not shoveling the driveway from yet ANOTHER east coast snow storm) we will be dining at our favorite restaurant and visiting some local antique stores :)

    Is it sad that I'm pumped to help Haiti...even though I'm leaving a comment to get YOU to spend your money?? lol

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  27. We just got through a couple of blizzards here in DC so if we can make it out to dinner some night (any night), we'll be pretty excited.
    Unbelievable suffering in Haiti...I command you for all that you do for so many charities. Even if I can't follow your example all the time, you inspire me to do more.

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  28. THANKYOU, Regina. I am praying for Ray Ray.

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  29. I need to comment but there is nothing I can say.

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  30. Amy Cameron2/11/10, 8:58 PM

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  31. wow what an amazing post. I cannot imagine doing what your aunt did. It would be so hard to let go of these people that have so little or nothing. I can't even go to the dogpound without having nightmares about the dogs looking at me. What an amazing woman, and I hope that Tomas will be able to adopt Ray Ray.

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  32. Jen...that little boy is just so beautiful. I would have taken him home. But I am so glad that she was able to help that connection with Tomas. God bless them.

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  33. God Bless your cousin for the work she did. We continue to keep the people of Haiti in our prayers.

    Lorraine
    Carolyn's Board

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  34. Jen, thank you for sharing Regina's experiences and thanks to her for making sure that the Haitians are not statistics, but real people.

    We will be having our typical crazy, loud family dinner with our four kids (3 1/2-year-old singleton and 16-month-old triplets) for Valentine's Day.

    We probably won't appreciate nearly enough how fortunate we are to have plenty of food on the table and a warm, safe place to live. I'm not sure we CAN appreciate it enough, but we will certainly try. And when we pray and thank God for our blessings, we will remember the people of Haiti and ask God to bless them, too.

    Christy

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  35. Jen, keep up the good work!!! We all can make an impact on the world by being good people and by taking action!!! God Bless all the people in Haiti!!!!

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  36. Oh, my . . . that moment when Regina cried and Tomas stepped in . . . that moved me to tears. Tomas and Ray Ray would most likely never have met without Regina being there, at that moment, exhausted and breaking down, weeping over that child. Regina was absolutely right when she said that Tomas and Ray Ray need each other. I hope Ray Ray can be reunited with his family, but if he can't, the connection those he and Tomas promises important things for both.

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  37. I am crying so hard I can barely see. How does one go about adopting one of the thousands of children left alone? I can't stand to think about how frightened they must be. My heart is broken in two.

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  38. Thank you so much Regina for going to Haiti. I am so touched by your words, I am crying. God bless you.

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  39. Thank you for being so generous!

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  40. What an amazing story & experience to of had. The story of Ray-Ray brought me to tears & I definitely continue to pray for the people of Haiti & also that if Ray-Rays's birth family cannot be found that he will be able to be adopted by Thomas & his wife.

    As for Valentines day. I've planned a special dinner "Date Night" for my hubby & I. A local church youth group is offering a "Parent's Night Out" this Saturday by providing childcare at the church for a reasonable price to fund-raise for an up coming youth missions trip. It's a win win for everyone!

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  41. My heart just breaks reading these stores. Each and every person in that country is in my prayers.

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  42. I can't stop crying for Ray Ray, I want to go get him and hold him and bring him home, too.

    What an amazing gesture to do this Jen. Obviously it runs in the family. Please accept my comment. I wish I could do so much more.

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  43. This comment is probably just a bunch of jibberish because I can't see through my tears and gutteral sobs. But hopefully it can still count for donation purposes. Heartbreak and inspiration all at once, amazing stories.

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  44. I thank God that there are people who are willing and capable of helping that have headed to Haiti. Thank you to all of them for their loving hearts.

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  45. praying for u and them god bless

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  46. Thanks for all you do to help the world - every bit counts! I love your blog and look forward to reading it every morning before work. Kids are adorable and I'm enjoying your journey through life.

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  47. One of many cuzzins!2/12/10, 8:04 AM

    Thank you Jenny! I am so grateful for your interest in this story. Now that the TV cameras are gone, it is so easy to forget about the plight of the Haitian people. Your blog and other like forums keep the public aware, and any little bit of help that can be sent their way, really makes a big difference.

    I spent 10 days in Haiti and it honestly felt like 3 months. Partly because we were working such long hours, but moreso, because they just don't have so many of the things that we use to get through our daily lives. Their lives are just so hard. All of the women look at least 20 years older than their actual age. Yet, they have this zest for life and an immense appreciation for each other and the presence of God in their lives.

    The poverty is overwhelming. We've all seen pictures of pot bellied children...well, I saw with my own eyes children and mothers with swollen tummies. During physical exams, when I tapped on those abdomens, they actually echoed...yes, they were hollow.

    One mother told me her recipe for mud cakes that she prepares every other day to feed her children just before night fall. Her 9 yr old son simply can not sleep at night if he does not have something to fill the void in his belly. So, she digs about 1 ft into the soil and scrapes the hardened dirt into a pail. The dirt is mixed with pulverized leaves from a plantain tree that she steals from the local merchant's property. She uses a small amount of their rationed drinking water, and her own spit to add moisture to the concoction. Then she forms them into flat circles and dries them on a rock in the sun. Her recipe will yield 8 cookie-like "treats" and this will be 2 days worth of food for her family.

    I could tell a story a day....one worse than the next. As I cared for the victims and worked along side them, I made sure to get a little information about each individual. Hearing about the hardships of their lives gave me purpose for being there and seemed to intensify my efforts.

    Thank you for the thoughts and prayers of your readers. I hope that they will continue to offer prayers for all the poor in the ravaged country of Haiti. It will take years...decades, to heal from the earthquake. But, beyond the destruction of the natural disaster, the country is in ruins from a corrupt political system. Hopefully some good will come out of the earthquake in the form of aid & organized assistance in improving the lives of the innocent.

    Thank you again and again!
    God bless!
    Regina

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  48. Thank you for showing your compassion and digging into your pockets. It's hard to imagine the magnitude of damage and tragedy that this earthquake has caused. I just got back from the carribean and as Americans, enjoyed the beauty of the islands, but yet seeing the poverty and talking to some of the locals, it reminded us - in the midst of our problems, we are completely blessed to live in this country.

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  49. An excellent idea! and a great cause to delurk for ... we took up a "use the change in your pocket/purse to help others" collection in my unit at work and gave it to the Red Cross.

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  50. God bless your cousin and all those who are in Haiti.

    Erin

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  51. I will be making another donation today after reading your post.

    For Valentine's Day, my husband and I will be dropping our 16-year old son off at snowboard camp in New Hampshire, then stopping in Boston for a night on the way home. We're going to see the Blue Man Group while we're there.

    This is our first get-away without kids in 15 years (oldest son is off at college).

    We just celebrated our 21st anniversary in January.

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  52. Amazing story. I'm a lurking reader of your blog that I found on a friend's site. I'm sitting at work bawling my eyes out. God bless your Cousin as well as your family for donating. I'll be donating more myself after reading this!

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  53. Jen~
    Thank you for sharing Regina's letter. So very touching. I pray for the people of Haiti, especially the children who are left without families to care for them, like RayRay.

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  54. As a parent of four children, two of whom are severely disabled and going blind due to a rare genetic syndrome, it dawns on me that I am blessed. I have spent many days feeling sorry for myself and my girls. And then I read something like this.........I don't know what I can do, but I'm going to find out. Thank you and Regina for helping us to see these amazing people who are so strong despite their tragedy.

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  55. I can't imagine what Haiti is like right now, I was there 6 years ago, and it was so poor - I hope they can recover. Reading the first had accounts always makes me cry.
    For Valentine's day we are going to take our girls and in-laws to the Renaissance Festival! We usually don't do much - but that should be fun!

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  56. Regina, thank you for going.

    Lindsey

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  57. What a wonderful thing you are doing. What a wonderful story of Reginas experience. Thank you for sharing.

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  58. What an amazing relative you have, it is very brave to face such a heart wrenching situation in person.

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  59. My heart goes out to them. God bless those willing and able to help.

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  60. Regina, God bless you. Jen, if you find out from Regina how the story of Thomas and Ray Ray pans out, I'm sure we'd all love to hear about it. This post made me cry. I'm going to hug my daughter a little tighter just as soon as I see her later. Thanks Jen and Charlie. Linda

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  61. Oops, I totally forgot to answer the question you asked us to in the comments. For Valentine's Day, my husband will be cooking dinner for us and our 2 year old daughter. It should be lovely! Linda

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  62. What a great letter to share with us. Thanks. For Valentine's Day, I'm thinking we are going to go tubing up in the mountains (my little boys, my husband and my mom who is visiting for the weekend). Thanks, Maureen

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  63. Thank you so much for posting the letter. It is such a mind-numbing, heart-wrenching catastrophe that we can hardly grasp. I appreciate the chances I get to hear real stories of real lives- people I can pray for specifically. As painful and sad as it is I don't want to just look the other way. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

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  64. Thanks for doing this!!!

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  65. An amazing story of Tomas and Ray Ray connecting. I hope that they can stay together, either by adoption or by just staying in touch.

    For Valentine's Day, we will be staying at home. I'll probably bake a pie for the family.

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  66. It is so wonderful to hear of love and strength among so much tragedy.

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  67. Jen~

    Regina and those like her make my heart swell. Thank-you a million times.

    Valentines Day will consist of getting through the day (I mean enjoying the day) with our 4 little ones, maybe a special craft or treat for the 4 and 5 year old, and a home photo session, complete with silly holiday props for the babies.

    Peace~
    K

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  68. Thank you so much for sharing Regina's email. What wonderful work those volunteers are doing to help the earthquake victims!

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  69. I actually cried reading Regina's note. I do not know whether I could leave that little boy behind, it would be very difficult. Regina sounds like a really strong and I thank her for all her work in Haiti. We will be at home with my husband for Valentines.

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  70. I cry, and I donate, and I so wish there was more I could do. I know that my husband is in a profession (US soldier) where he does help in exactly this sort of situation, and my job is to hold things down on the home front so he can do it, but I feel so inadequate in face of the tragedies of the world.

    Bless Regina.

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  71. Thanks for doing this, Jen.
    My plans for Valentine's Day involve going to PetSmart with adoptable dogs from the animal shelter.

    LaVonne

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  72. I totally cried while reading this post... and I don't even have anymore preggo hormones!

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  73. thank you for sharing your cousin's email. I am so glad there are people like her helping on the ground in Haiti!

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  74. Thanks for doing this!

    I am going on a rare date with my husband on Saturday night.

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  75. Way to go Regina, and thank you Jen and Charlie for keeping Haiti in our thoughts.

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  76. THanks for sharing and for doing what you guys are doing! I am ALWAYS impressed . . . .

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  77. If I can stop weeping, I'll try to write what I have to say. Thank you, thank you for sharing this wonderful, letter of word pictures! I am deeply moved.

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  78. What an amazing story, what an amazing person.

    For Valentine's we're combining my birthday (2/2) and Valentine's Day. On Monday we're going to stay and play in San Francisco for 3 days. We're taking Colin the dog with us, staying in a very dog friendly hotel near Fisherman's Wharf. Meeting my sister and future brother-in-law for dinner at the California Culinary Academy and FINALLY spending a few hours at the De Young - let's see how many years has the new museum been open...

    And as Jeannine said Thank you for all you do. The world needs more people like you and Charlie.

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  79. You are so kind and generous! I appreciate this gesture of aid. We have no big plans this weekend, just soaking up the family togetherness!

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  80. THANK YOU for sharing this letter....
    Kate

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  81. Thanks for sharing the letter, what an amazing story.

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  82. You are doing a wonderful thing through you blog, thankyou

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  83. I was a pediatric ICU RN in another life (almost 8 years ago). If I didn't have my four year old son with autism, I would have been on a plane down there to help. I think my biggest frustration is knowing I have the knowledge and skills to really intervene and make a difference, but not being able to make the trip.

    So, I will post this comment to add $2 more to the total and while I'm at it, I think I will pay (another) visit to the Doctors Without Borders website.

    Thank you for sharing Regina's story with us and inspiring us to act; so easy to become numb to the suffering.

    JD in TLH

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  84. Thank you for sharing this story and for your families generosity. It is inspirational and a reminder that the people of Haiti are still suffering and we must not forgot about them.

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  85. Love your blog. Love your giving spirit. Keep it up!

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  86. Thanks for sharing Regina's story with all of us! I didn't realize she too was a nurse until I read her letters from Haiti! How inspiring for all of us who aren't there to stand up and give in any way we can!

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  87. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I think about Haitians every day.

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  88. Thank you so much for giving us a small glimpse of the enormous devastation.

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  89. thank you for this story of Regina and her experiences in Haiti - it really makes the whole tragic event seem more real to us here in our safe and clean world.

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  90. Thank you for donating.
    Thank you for your inspiring words.

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  91. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

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  92. Jen _ I love you and all the good you do!

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  93. Thank you. You and your family are an inspiration!

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  94. Thank you for giving these people HOPE :)

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  95. What a very awesome thing to do, Jen! I'm so honored to stalk your blog!

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  96. Jen, thank you so much for sharing Regina's story with us, you truly come from an amazing family so I see where you get it from. The story of Ray Ray brought tears to my house and I pray that it all works out and he can be adopted by Thomas and his wife. Thank you for all you do and all your family does.

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  97. We have spent the day cutting firewood, putting up a baby bed, cleaning the house. My brother & his family are over, the men are cooking dinner while my SIL & I keep up with the kiddos & watch the snow fall!! She & I both read the blog & thought we'd catch up together :). Have a great Valentine's Day!

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  98. Joan Fanning2/14/10, 6:30 PM

    Ok Jen -

    This is inspiring and the pics of your wonderful children are great. I am not only posting a comment but I want to say that I will match your donation. I will tally up your comments at the end of Monday and also send $2 dollars for every comment you get to the wonderful hospital your cousin volunteered at.

    You go Jen -- you are inspiring!

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  99. How can I resist posting when it will help someone? Thank you.

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  100. wow I can only imagine the heartbreaking emotions of being in Haiti.

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  101. Thank you Jen for not forgetting Haiti and for encouraging others to give. Loved your V-Day post!

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  102. what a wonderful way to use your blog for the good of others!! thank you and please thank regina for us!! you are both pretty amazing...

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  103. I don't think many people including me have any idea of the ongoing devastation and hardship less alone heartache in Haiti.
    Thanks to Regina.God Bless her.

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  104. Great first-hand account!

    We just went for a walk around the Ballona Wetlands Freshwater Marsh and are going to eat left-overs this evening because we just remembered that it is Valentines Day and we shouldn't be trying to venture out to a restaurant with two small kids tonight!

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  105. What an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing Regina's experience. I am in tears thinking of my own children snuggled in their beds to far for the horrors of Haiti. Thank God for people like Regina!

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  106. We went to a great dinner for Valentine's day!!

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  107. I don't watch TV, I don't have a newspaper delivered to my house, the only news I receive is through links that I might receive here and there. So it is very easy to ignore the world and get caught up in my very own.

    Thank you for sharing this! People are hurting across the world and we've got to help! To mourn with those who mourn.

    May God bless you in your blessing of others.

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  108. Thank you for all you do to spread the awareness of so many things. You are making a difference. You are making change happen!

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  109. Thanks so much for sharing this story with your readers. I work in developing countries in international health, and see all kinds of shocking things regularly, but I do not work in disaster settings generally and can only imagine just how much worse things can be in these countries when disasters strike.

    My Valentine's Day was spent alone in Madagascar where I'm on my first post-baby work assignment, running a household survey of women whose children under 5 have had diarrhea recently. We are trying to get some good data on how they treat diarrhea -- do they use ORS? Zinc? Both? Nothing? -- and why they do what they do so we can design a program to better serve them.

    My husband is valiantly holding down the fort in San Diego with our 18 month old. This is the first time he's ever spent even one full day alone watching him, and now he's contending with a 3-day weekend. He reports back that it's going well but he's exhausted and apparently is finally realizing some of the things I have to do on a daily basis to keep the home running and looking semi-decent!

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  110. Thank you for sharing your cousin's letters. And I am so glad to see her comment on this post as well. You have such an amazing family.

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  111. Joan: I'm totally speechless. Thank you so much.

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  112. What a touching post. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  113. thanks for sharing regina's story.

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  114. Go Regina...thank you for sharing!

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  115. Not sure if I'm to late or not - been away for a bit.

    Regina your AMAZING and your story - just incredible! Thanks for the post Jen and gonna follow your lead (again) sending donation.

    All I can say is "WOW". Love, Marg

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  116. I love the Valentine's Day post!

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  117. Hope I'm not too late. An amazing thing you're doing. We went to breakfast and to a nice Sushi restaurant for dinner, along with just spending the rest of the day together in general.

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  118. Keeping all of them in my heart.

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  119. Debra ((*.*))2/19/10, 5:11 AM

    What a BLESSING Regina was to little Raymond and all the hearts she touched during this journey. If she is ever out this way I would love to meet her.
    And, thanks for all you do on this planet as well. You never cease to amaze me with your compassion and love for mankind!

    Love,
    Debra ((*.*))

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