Barlow Family - Haiti

DONATE

 

Loading..
The WHOLE crew

 

Ted & Rebecca

(Haiti)

Tania Grace

(Texas)

Ana & Oliver

(Germany)

Tynan

(California)

Emma

(California)

Olivia

(Texas)

Syndie

(Haiti)

 

Twitter
Facebook
In Prayer, For...
  • the orphans in Haiti
    a smooth moving process
    calm during the transition
  • our kids -
  • Tynan & Tania in college
  • Ana working in Germany
  • Twins' homeschooling
  • the future "additions"
Donate Now with PayPal
If you donate here you will not get a tax receipt. Please click the links above if you want to donate through World Orphans.
Friday
Jul112014

from Hinche...

Last week, Syndie & I strapped on our adventure gear, climbed into the car with all of our tough chick power and made the trek 3 hours north into Haiti's central plateau...on our own! We dripped through nearly an hour of traffic in the blazing heat wishing the air conditioning worked and finally made it to the outskirts of the city. Syndie dozed a little as we climbed the barren dry mountains surrounding Port au Prince. The well paved but narrow roads wound up, over & down into the “provinces” (Haitian word for the “countryside”). Cresting the summit our surroundings went from brown and dry to lush and green. We weathered rain storms, crazy big trucks, slick roads and magnificent views. Syndie woke from time to time bursting out with "Sa bel, mama!! tre bel!!" (It's beautiful, mama, SO beautiful!!) We arrived at the Midwives for Haiti compound just in time for dinner and to settle into our room, which will be our home, away from home, for the next couple of months.

If I haven’t said enough about Midwives for Haiti...let me just sum it up now. MFH is a small humanitarian organization doing some pretty remarkable things here in Haiti. They started a training program for Haitian nurses to teach them the full-spectrum of maternity care and delivery. From that program they have invested into the local hospital where both their graduates & students provide moms with tender care during labor and assist in identifying and treating high risk and emergency cases. Some would say that anyone who comes to the hospital is likely a high risk case, as Haitians often prefer to deliver at home. MFH also has mobile clinics that go out 5-6 days a week into the remote areas of this region to provide monthly prenatal care & identify moms that need referral or transport to the hospital. They also provide a Matron Outreach training program for the lay or village “midwives” who have had very little training, but a passion and heart to help their community members deliver babies well.

That is where Syndie & I will spend the morning today…

I love how the health dept curriculum that is used includes songs to teach hand washing, warning signs and such. Many of the matrons have never been to school or ever completed it. Last week as I sat in on class the current students were teaching about the female anatomy...several snickered as they reviewed the external genitalia visuals in detail. When the flip chart page was turned to discuss the internal female reproductive organs the crowd gasped with delight. One matron shared that they had never seen what the inside looked like before!! They were such a happy and excited crowd of sponges with this new information in front of them. The midwife who helped get this program up and going shared that this class is 22 weeks long & if they don’t mis more than 3 times they will get to participate in a “graduation” ceremony for their certificates & receive an ID badge that shows they have had training. She said that for most of them this is likely the FIRST and ONLY graduation they will ever have. So not only will they be able to provide safer care & know when to refer moms for high risk needs, this course also serves as a lifetime highlight for them as their families gather around them to celebrate at the end.

ONE of the reasons I am here for the next 2 months is to help out with a brand new training program. Jenna Schmitz one of the in-country staff midwives has been working hard to get a post-natal clinic off the ground. It may sound surprising, but at present mom’s receive monthly prenatal care, safe delivery care and then if all is normal they are discharged with their babies 6 hours or so later...never to be seen again. SO, in trying to help cut down the maternal & newborn complications & risk of death in the weeks following delivery TWO MFH graduate specialty nurses are being trained to provide all of the postpartum care in the local hospital here as well as follow up outpatient clinics for each mom during the 6 weeks after birth. They will eventually receive anyone who has delivered in the area, even if the birth was at home.

My other function here is to serve as a temporary “in-country coordinator”. I’ll be helping with volunteers that come to stay at the MFH house and work alongside the students or in the surrounding community. It's been a quick learning curve & my Kreyol is being stretched again too!

In the afternoons, Syndie and I have been going to a local hospital that is part of Mother Teresa’s ministries here in Haiti. We’ve been serving in the infant malnutrition ward, helping with feedings and providing stimulation, developmental play, physical touch and simply quick response to the babies needs as it is severely understaffed. The sister in charge is joyful and welcoming and Syndie LOVES “giving the babies milk” as she says. She is learning to hold and carry the little ones and truly enjoys our ministry there. We hope to go at least 3 afternoons a week and perhaps weekend mornings too as it is so nearby.

Here are a few highlights of our week:

Syndie running FREE in the countryside on the 4th of July...and every other chance she gets.


Ted came to visit with our new little guard pup… (no name yet)


A Sunday drive in the countryside. (yes this is a CHURCH!)


Post-Natal Care Training Classes

PNCP team - Jenna, Illa, Jusline & Rebecca

 

Thursday
Jun262014

The icky gritty side of life in Haiti....

It is hard to write on this subject for many reasons,

but today I need to,

so I'll try my best.

It's not that we try to hide the "scary" or "dangerous" aspects of Haiti, I mean we came here after a HORRIFIC earthquake, in the midst of a cholera epidemic, tragedy here is no surprise.... Mainly I want our time here to be portrayed acurately.

Haiti IS a beautiful, warm, friendly, chaotic, colorful, impoverished, hard working, laughter & music-filled place most of the time to us...and then there are those odd moments where it is suddenly senseless, dangerous, head-spinning, tragic & fatal.

We don't LIVE in those moments daily, yet they sprinkle our existence here and there, leave memories, gaps, holes in hearts & fragments in our minds...of what could be, what should have been different...in a less than fallen world.

Last week was one of those "moments" for us here in Haiti...

Friday, June 20th started in an average way. I (Rebecca) had been up doing our midnight laundry loads while power was on the night before. Ted was up early & heading out the door. I popped my head up to say good morning before he left & he mentioned going to the bank to get part of our new housing funds. For some reason my heart flip flopped at that moment & I called him back. I had a really bad feeling about the bank & asked him not to go...we argued over it briefly & I pleaded for him to find another way to get the funds transferred. He said, "don't worry, I'll be fine, I'll take a couple of security guys with me..." and left.

between 9 & 10 am we chatteded sporadically about our upcoming move across the street into the house of our friends' who were moving back to Australia...about Syndie's breakfast & medicines...

Ted at 10:20 am: looks like your brother is coming in around 1:30p. I don't have to go to the bank, someone else is doing that for me.  

and then a little under an hour later this gut wrenching message came: 

unfortunately we have a huge problem. One of our employees was just shot and killed this morning. Gerritt, you may have met him at Pizza...

he was followed home from the bank this morning and shot and killed in front of his house. Martial the driver just came back from the bank with $3000 of our housing cash and was held up at gunpoint on his way back. Fortunately they didn't hurt him. I don't know what to do. Please pray for me right now.

And for Gerritt's wife and 10 year old son.

and a half hour later:

I feel really bad, especially about Gerritt's death. But I also feel like I just got punched in the gut about Martial. Not sure what I would do if he had gotten hurt or killed (on our errand).

Gerrit was a very big hearted Dutch man that Ted liked the instant he met him at Operation Blessing.

Exactly one week before, I sat at the other end of the table from him and watched him take a slice of pizza offered to him and then give it to his stepson instead. I remember how his son looked up at him & smiled, how calm natured he was & thinking to myself that he was a good father. I barely knew him.

He lived very simply in Haiti, as a local. He had been out doing his own banking and stopped also at Western Union to send finances out. His bag that was stolen had not more than $200 in it. He went to his home, they followed, he tried to defend himself & his stepson that was in another room. They shot him, twice. He died in seconds.

The minute the call came in, Ted called Martial and told him to be careful. He told him about Gerrit. Martial was doing OUR banking and a few other bank errands too. He said he had just finished and would come straight back. Instead, he got caught in traffic at an intersection minutes later...and again, several guys on motorcycles had followed. Before he knew it there was a gun at his temple & they were asking for the money he had, OUR money that had put him at risk...they knew exactly where it was in the bag. Thankfully Martial and another employee that was with him, knew to hand it over straight away & not make eye contact. They survived...

Ted was safe in the office, neither of us sure how to take it all in.

It's not that this kind of thing is just happening all of the time here...I've never even witnessed it personally, but it's something you know could occur on a rare occasion, that I've thought through once or twice in order to be prepared if it did.

And as it often does in Haiti...life went on for us at that moment, while others were left suffering. 

My brother arrived a few hours later on business and to visit his new neice. Ted picked him up. 

The director that Ted is replacing had left the country the day before, so he found himself and the deputy director suddenly in charge of everything...immersed in Gerrit's funeral arrangements. He stood over the body of a new friend and co-worker who he was at the beach with less than two weeks before & thought of the passion Gerrit had for his work, how it had lit up his eyes that day.

THIS is not the norm, but it IS the nasty, crummy, ugly side of life for us here the past week.

Grief, guilt, duty, being propelled forward by the daily tasks at hand...and all of it swirling together to be absorbed and doled out differently in various moments of time. 

Please continue to pray over us...over Ted, as he processes this. It always seems to take longer here to deal with emotions or reactions to an experience or an unexpected event. 

Syndie & I leave for the north in a couple of days as well. I have the blessing of two helpers for the next week as I embark on this short-term opportunity to help prevent the tragedy of maternal death.

Each day is so much more filled with "stuff" here, silly little "seems like a waste of time", 10-steps-to-get-one-thing-accomplished type of daily duties...where even when life is recognized as such a precious commodity and not to be taken for granted...we STILL struggle to grasp, fully appreciate and hang on to the many OTHER absolutely amazing, priceless, and treasured moments! PRAY that we will!!

Having had family here this past month has been part of that. We NEED them, we NEED you... being grounded in and anchored to the familiar and sharing our hearts and lives here with others from a different place than this seems more important than ever right at present. The stark polar-opposite realities that we have delighted in, cherished & suffered through the past few weeks will all ENRICH us over time through our faith and with the nurturing and companionship of others that walk alongside.

Posting "happy moments" is SO much easier...this was just not one of them

and yet it seemed inauthentic not to at least try to share,

to explain...

not to scare,

not to gain pity,

not to blight Haiti in any way,

...but to be "real" with the yucky bits of our life here too.

Gerrit's memory has been SEARED into the tapestry of our lives here now,

we wish it wasn't so and that there had been more pizza nights and beach days to share...

and his legacy at Zanmi Beni


Friday
Jun132014

Family Time.

We just had a great week here with Rebecca's mom, who traveled down with Tynan & Emma. Sandrea, our previous school teacher for Emma came down for the week too! Since Olivia was here as well, we were only a couple of kids short in celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on June 10th. While there is a bigger celebration ALL TOGETHER, coming up in September along with Ted's 50th, it sure was a precious time to make new memories & to share our Haiti life with Ruth Carrico! We are SUPER proud of her for taking her first international trip ever in her 70's & to such a crazy different place. She was a natural traveler & kept right up on our excursions, she even visited Operation Blessing's school on the shores of Lake Azueil & ventured into Kanez village with Rebecca to check on a friend's little boy who is sick. Syndie got to meet her first grandparent in person. She sure LOVES her "Grandmere" & also got spoiled with lots of gifts sent down from "Tante Renee", Grandpa Bob & Grammy M! 

Life is taking a turn here now as we head into summer time - hot, Hot & HOTTER! It looks like a busy couple of months coming up. 

The coming & going continues as our company left Wednesday afternoon and Olivia flew back to TX this morning to pursue work, school and to catch up on her medical care now that we have U.S. insurance again. Rebecca's brother, Bob arrives in a week to kick off the computer programming business initial stages. We also have our honorary "neice", Bethany Hatley coming down from CA with a friend for 3 weeks and as soon as they leave our cousin Becca from Rhode Island!

Ted's first few weeks at OB have been interesting to say the least. The area of one of their big projects has been literally invaded by an egotistical group of "do-gooders" from the US that have a heap of money & seem to think that they can just take over two villages & do whatever they want. It's a VERY sad and scary situation. PLEASE pray...these Americans are extremely RUDE, vague, ARMED with both guns & video cameras and possibly dangerous. Strange, never thought we would worry about needing security from the Americans here. 

Our main ministry NEED right now is a helper for Rebecca from July 28th through the end of August! She will be up in Hinche with Midwives for Haiti most of that time & will have Syndie with her. We are hoping to have someone who will help out with Syndie during the hours that she has to give her attention to work. It may include educational tutoring & play for her and also being a personal assistant for Rebecca who will be teaching / training on postpartum & newborn care for midwifery students for several weeks.

We are also looking for a teacher for the coming school year. This could start sooner if the same person wanted to stay for the year. See the post under Ministry Team for this position...!

Friday
May232014

More NEW ministry developmentsā€¦

Life has SO not been dull the past three months...

Quick Recap -

When Apparent Project decided to suddenly change course back in February, International Hope & Heritage immediately stepped up as our fiscal sponsor to receive all donations. What a blessing!

At the same time, Rebecca’s brother, Bob, began conversations with us and created a timeline for the first business as mission development project under our ministry org - Ten Million Toes. The first phase of a computer programming outsourcing business / training (& eventually post-orphanage transition program) will roll out July 1st!

Rebecca was asked recently to fill in at Midwives for Haiti for July & August in several capacities and started preparing to open a free-standing birthing center collaboratively with them and Hopital Albert Schweitzer later this year. She has just submitted her final application for an online midwifery school program this fall & already has a partial scholarship.

Our family size here IN Haiti has doubled at the moment!

Syndie joined us on March 30th & is pretty much as excited as we are about her adoption...now in progress!

Last week, OLIVIA joined us here again too, after 2 years away. She is enjoying being a big sister for the first time ever & some family “face time” while seeking God’s next steps. She plans to be here through September. 

AS IF THAT IS NOT ENOUGH EXCITEMENT…

God has been rolling out plans for us that we never even dreamed of!! (Imagine that)

A few weeks ago, Ted was approached by a friend of ours here and asked if he would be interested in taking over his own ministry position with an organization called Operation Blessing. After quite a lengthy time of prayer & discernment over this semi-change in direction, we decided that it was a perfect fit for Ted’s personal skill set & previous experience here in Haiti. 

As of TUESDAY this position offer became official - Ted will transition into the role of National Director - Haiti for OB this summer!

Read more about the organization:

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN for our ministry? 

Well we expect that nothing will change at all, with what we currently have in development. Ted will continue to oversee our highly qualified Haitian manager as the business unfolds. Rebecca will look after everything else...with some help! 

The BIGGEST difference with this organization for us is that they use their donations to provide ALL of our personal living expenses & housing! 

This is where we get REALLY excited...& yet somewhat fearful…

While we won’t need personal support financially in order to stay here anymore, we DO need a continuing ministry team to engage, to PRAY, to work alongside us in so MANY WAYS! 

So we admit, we’re a little worried that you might step back and let go or even leave the team… just when we need you the MOST. 

We have always said that anything above & beyond our personal needs that comes in each month will go to ministry supplies or projects. Now EVERYTHING will go to support the actual ministry work at hand!! 

We will continue to post specific items or needed resources monthly as they come up and report when they have been fulfilled. 

Syndie’s adoption is another way to continue to support us this year! You can designated that through our ministry fund at IHH or through our pureCharity adoption site:

WHAT WE NEED MOST:

Teammates to consider how they can engage more actively in ministry here!!!!!

There is a lengthy LIST of opportunities to come serve alongside us in the coming year OR to provide stateside support services as the organization grows. 

We are also looking for additional field staff to join us here. If this is something you would consider, please CONTACT US: rebecca@tenmilliontoes.org 

You can always reach us via Skype phone: 916.790.2319 - we’d LOVE to hear from you!

We cherish the constant support & encouragement that you are for us day in and day out... knowing that we aren’t ministering here on our own always keeps us going!

Monday
Apr142014

early navigation of in-country adoption

BACKWARDS

is a good way to describe this adoption in comparison to our others.

Agency adoption??

We've never done an agency adoption...

YES it's true we adopted SO LONG AGO that we were among the pioneers of independent adoption in Russia with an organization called Christian Adoption Project. This time around the content is similar, applications similar, but the process is very different. That said we are extremely GRATEFUL for Diana Boni @ All Blessings International who has experience with processing the unique cases of American-Haitian residents who already have met & often have custody of their kids. She has been a huge encouragement & we will rely on her knowledge and in-country staff to get everything moving along here very soon.

Bonding & Attachment??

We DO know a LOT now about THAT. However in our situation this time around we have a 2.5 yr long relationship with & actually have PHYSICAL CUSTODY of Syndie BEFORE we have legal guardianship or have begun the actual adoption process. It is a strange thing, but we have been entrusted with her care by the only legal guardian that she has, since her mom died in the earthquake of 2010. TOMORROW we all traipse down to IBESR to get the guardianship paperwork started!

Language?? 

Last time we learned very basic phrases in Russian & then studied and picked it up in Russia and upon our return with our girls. Thankfully this time around we have a better grasp of the language prior to kiddos entering our home...that said we've been on a sudden increased learning curve with our 6 yo chatterbug! Opposite situations in this realm however are the fact that we'll be raising kids in their native country, native language, but an American culture household. We're currently all speaking Haitian Kreyol at home, except for Ted & I between ourselves. So we're not at all sure when to start the transition or integration of English language acquisition.

& COMPLEX 

is another word we use a lot here, but especially in regards to transitioning an older adopted child in their OWN home country.

Education??

Syndie is attending a local Haitian school...studying in Kreyol & French at present. She is behind her agemates and requiring specila tutoring. In order to be ready for 1st grade next year they say whe will have to work though the entire summer. At what point do we peel her away from the familiar & her native tongue to study in English & make sure that she will be at grade level in EITHER or BOTH countries that she resides in?

Friends??

Hopefully this one will work itself out in time, but this past week it has been one of our BIGGEST challenges. One of the few "friends" that Syndie has among our family community here, that bridge her present and past, is our friend Jessica's little girl, Phoebe Kate. In fact PK is the ONLY kiddo here that ever visited Syndie in her orphanage over the past few years. We are blessed to have the girls together enjoying Syndie's freedom to visit Phoebe Kate at her house now too! The reality is that they are at the END of their backwards adoption journey at last & Phoebe is FINALLY moving to the US for the very first time on Thursday. We are happy for them, but will miss them tremendously!!!

Syndie has verbalized NOT wanting to visit anyone at her orphanage and yet has a limited ability to communicate and get to know any of our friends' english speaking kids.

School is the only place where she can communicate freely with other kids right now, but that has presented  it's own issues. This past week a little girl from school, who is quite a bit older than Syndie seemed to have befriended her & came by to "visit". This turned into daily "play" time which was HOURS long...  We thought at first that it would be good for her since she isn't used to being an only child surrounded by adults. Slowly over this past weekend that has gone downhill. BY the end I found myself struggling with giving grace & wisdom & compassion to her and feeling guilty all the same!

I was always the mom who kept an ear out when friends were around to make sure everyone was playing well & communicating appropriately. With a Haitian schoolmate that speaks no english I immediately felt some what disadvantaged at knowing whether they were talking and playing nice.  I decided not to worry too much, but check on them frequently, assess Syndie's countenance & see if she seemed ok. That worked fine. Then a few red flags started going off.

Frist of all, Syndie came in every hour saying she was hungry and asking for something to eat...even though she had eaten more than usual. Next the little girl who was twice her size came out with Syndie's clothes on...a sundress as a top here,  pajama pants as shorts there... we entered uncharted territory as I tried to give caring guidance! How do you NICELY ask a girl who probably has very little, to take off & return your daughter's clothes that are 6 sizes too small? How do you politely change the subject for the 4th time when your daughter asks for food, when you've already fed two full meals AND several snacks during a playdate? How do you ford the waters of generosity & yet NOT undermine or disrespect a little girl's own family who you have (by the way) NEVER MET? Is it even appropriate to ask to meet her mom/family down the road? 

Unfortunately this particular situation got out a little more out of hand... Fun turned into an "agenda", trying to steal Syndie's clothes and lying about it... Sadly, in the end I had to send her home and let her know that Syndie would only see her at school.

Poor Syndie was a trooper & said that she understood, but I struggle with knowing that this may be the norm when it comes to her trying to have local Haitian friends. And so the BIG changes in her life ensue and the valley of separation that we knew would be inevitable from her old life begins to grow wide and rocky and deep. If it wasn't for the joy, the hugs and seeing her SOAK up love & touch like water to one in a desert, I would grieve more with her...SHE would grieve more too. But I didn't see that on her face at the end of the day, just the smile and giggles of a well nourished, well rested little girl who is BRAVELY learning a new way of life and just feels GOOD!