Good day Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I want to share with you about my life experience; from my life in the orphanage to the transition with my family and then into the YES organization. I am so grateful and excited to take on the responsibility that YES! has given me as the YES! field agent/lead mentor.
I was born in Gonaives, two and a half hours driving from Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. I can say I was born without a father. I have not once met him, not even in a picture. I am calling myself Kinnder because that is the only souvenir I have of him. Because of the living situation, my mother could not take care of me, in her mind she thought it was better to send me in an orphanage. It made great difference in my life.
At the beginning of orphanage life, it was heaven on earth, we were treated like princes and princesses. Obviously the first couple days in the orphanage were sad surely, but one week was enough to forget about every pain and sorrow we had gone through.
But this fantasy life did not last long. As each one of us knows one of the biggest enemies we have as human beings is “Cupidity”. After a short time, everything changed in the orphanage.
I believe we were one of the orphanages that had the most support in all the orphanages in Gonaives. I have three reasons for saying that. I was one of the kids who was able to understand English, I was the oldest child, and I also had some responsibilities at the orphanage at that time.
Everyone would think when we had the most support, we were supposed to be treated good; however, no, it was totally the opposite. It was for them the opportunity to make money. Every Saturday, we had a UN team coming in with food and other stuff such as shoes, clothes etc. But the orphanage director would sell these things to get money. From there we started being mistreated with beatings, knowing hungriness and staying barefoot. Not because the things were not there, but perhaps they thought we did not deserve them. How do I know that the supplies and food were at the orphanage? Every time we would have a team coming in from the states, we were taken good care of and looking good so the missionaries or the social workers would think that we were taking good care of us. We learned to lie and cover their backs while being tortured, beaten and threatened. Even though we were suffering, we could not express our burden to anyone because our impressions were their privileges. I remember that one time we got sent home from school and there was an American team at the orphanage. I looked the orphanage director in the eye as he lied to head of the mission trip. From that time on, it was so hard for me to trust anyone.
I remember after leaving the orphanage, I so much struggled with anger. It was so painful being surrounded with the feeling of lies. The worst was leaving the orphanage and coming into a brand-new world, where I had no idea of where I was and I could not trust anyone even my own family. I thought my whole surrounding was lying to me. I could not hold on to a relationship, not even with my closest friends. They would say one thing, I would think and believe a different thing.
In the orphanage, we were taught to never say “NO” and also not to express our real feelings. And this was still a routine for me and it still felt normal for a long time. One of reasons I can say it was normal, because when I get to leave the orphanage and start a relationship with my family, I got to tell you. Haiti is not just a country when you first get out from the orphanage but a whole new world. What was hell in the orphanage could sometimes be paradise in some ways compared to the real Haiti world. One of the examples of the orphanage life, verses real life. In the orphanage I always wanted to ride in a tap tap which is Haiti’s public transportation. Trust me when I get to face that for real after I left the orphanage, it was the worst thing someone could have asked me to do. Real life of riding a tap tap everyday was crazy. I thought it was me who was dumb or silly but now as I mentor other kids coming out of orphanage, I can see that they also struggle and have the same feelings that I did. It is also fun seeing yourself through somebody else’s life. It is obvious that the kids who leave the orphanage are having to deal with stress, trauma of their experiences in the orphanage and learning the real life of Haiti.
The reason why I think the YES! mentoring program is important, even necessary, and the reasons why I enjoy doing it greatly is the shock is real. When I joined YES!, I was confused, angered, traumatized because I was abused mentally and physically in the orphanage. I could still feel pain every time I feel that someone was lying to me. I was still in the orphanage in my mind. But my mentor, Beth Hovel, being patient with me and using the most adequate skills to help me find my true identity. People were able to see the good throughout me, but all have seen was a piece of stinky meat. Sorry for that sentence, but that was exactly the words of the director of the orphanage whom was also my godmother used to say to me.
It is sometimes hard to believe that I leave those things behind. Luckily, I can now see the big changes when I compare myself with some of the kids that I grew up with in the orphanage who did not have the privileges of being in YES! With YES, there was intense trauma counselling and some people who abandoned their lives to take our burdens on their shoulders. They made us a real family and feel unconditional love. That is how I realized that kids don’t really need a physical comfort but to be surrounded by love and attention. I have always loved and believed in God. I feel like I was hand selected by God to be part of YES! and have a mentor to help me deal with my traumas, my anger and also provide life skills. This why I am dedicating my life to those teens whom are in the same situations I used to be. And that is also how you are able to find a Dieumercy to share with you today my experiences.
Trust me, it was not fun going back, I started getting very sad when I started writing those thoughts. But it is also good speaking them out and telling others so we can help change the situation of other kids in orphanages.
Thank you for listening.
God Bless YOU.
Dieuermcy or Kinnder