Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dixie's account of the "Mass Exodus"...

24 January 2010 6:30 AM

I tried all day yesterday to blog without any success! I thought my days might be quieter while I was in Miami, but they are just as busy as when I am in Haiti!

Our trip from GLA to Miami was pretty exciting! I slept 2 hours Thursday morning and then was up trying to get things ready for us all to leave. I was on the phone and coordinating cars, people, and children up to the moment we got in the cars to leave. Thankfully, all of the staff did their jobs perfectly and we had cars and vans for everyone, all paperwork was in order and packed into a suitcase, clothes and food was packed, and the kids were bathed and dressed on time! That in itself was a miracle!

About 11 AM that Thursday morning, we had another large aftershock that sent the women running out of the house! It took everyone to get them back in to finish getting the kids ready. Pastor Joel Trimble came with his video camera and took video of the whole process of loading the children and he went all of the way to the airport and into the plane with the children. Hopefully, he will post some of the video on You Tube.

We were late leaving for the airport and thankfully, the traffic was not bad. The drivers took a shortcut to get us there but it was through an area hit hard by the earthquake. Our older children had not seen any houses that had fallen during the quake. Seeing them personally, really affected some of the older children and they were very sad when we drove by.

This time, we did not have to spend hours in the heat of Port au Prince like we did when we went to take the Dutch children to meet their plane. We were there for 8 hours that day. FRiday, we were there about 4 hours. We were also allowed to get out of the vehicles and wait on a nice grassy area. We made it a great adventure for the children and it helped so much that I took 10 staff members with us. The older children kep asking me..."Are you going too Mme John?"..."Is Molly going too Mme John?" When I told them that yes, we are all going! They were happy and very few of the children cried when they joined their families. We were all there and it was just as if they were in Haiti.

The Miami Airport and several missions in Miami sent some volunteers on the plane to help us. We had been told that there would be extra passengers who would help us take the children out, but they did not show up. So each of the volunteers and staff had 3 to 4 children to take care of. Needless to say, it was an INTERESTING ride!

We arrived in Miami about 12:30 AM Friday morning, we spent 7 1/2 hours in Immigration. Yes, it took that long to process all of the children! The airport personel were so nice. They brought toys, baby formula, diapers, wet wipes, and food! They even came in and held babies! GLA kids are usually so well behaved when we go places and they did not disappoint us here either! They sat for that whole time or laid in the floor and took naps with very little whining and crying! I think we adults whined more than they did!!!

But it was all worth it when the children were united with their families! The airport had provided us with two conerence rooms where the parents could sit and wait and where we could bring the children to change them and get them ready to meat their parents. We had run out of clothing in the middle of the night and our spare clothing had been taken to another location, so we desperately needed to change some kids before they met their new families!

We had a well organized reunion, the children did well with it all. Nobody was afraid or crying. Parents were overjoyed. It was a miracle that these children got to come home without the process being finished. Some of these parents would have had to wait another year or more to take their children home under normal circumstances!

The GLA staff was so exhausted that in a way it helped us send the children home with their adoptive families. We were sort of numb and our emotions were numb too! Some of the children had been with us 6 years, others 4 years! That is a LONG time and those was hard for them to leave! Most of the children did really well and others will be sad for a little while, but we are all so glad they are with their forever families and safe.

We all went to our hotels and collapsed. I slept 5 hours until Haiti called an woke me up! And then went back and slept 8 more hours! I will never get that sleep back that I lost...but this sure helped!

Saturday, I had to go to the CNN studio here in Miami and talk for 5 minutes about orphans and the ability to adopt the new ones. I explaind that all new orphans from the quake disaster must be placed in orphanages until it can be determined that they are truly orphans and family does not come forward asking for the children. Only if President Preval and the international community can come to an agreement to let the orphans be adopted. I do not foresee UNICEF especially letting this happen without a lot of noise from their side! I would love to see the orphans adopted, but we just need to pray that this is possible later after things have settled down in Haiti.

We also went shopping and bought tarps, tents, blankets, towels, and lanterns to hand out when we get home. We spent some of the donations that came in and bought enough to help our staff that lost their homes and the surrounding community. We are also going to help some of them rebuild their homes at least for the ones that owned their homes and for the others, we will try to relocate them to a different housel.


We are still waiting for confirmation that we can fly back to Haiti today. if not, we will fly into the DR and drive across the border. I will update this as I know what is happening.

24 January 2010 11:10 AM

I forgot to tell you that one of the babies that was brought out was very sick before we came and we feared that we would have to leave he behind. On the way to the airport, she was taken to a hospital that had a team of American doctors, they looked at her and gave her fluids and thought she was stable enough to travel. it turns out that she had meningitis. She went directly into a hospital here in Miami and her adoptive mother came to the hospital to stay with her. The last report we received was that she was stable.

I want to personally thank everyone that was so kind to us throughout this process. Our sincere Thanks to:

First to Aaron and Tanya Ramsay for being there and making things happen!

To Tanya, Jill Wilkins, and their team in Miami who worked hard with little sleep to make our arrival and the meeting with between the adoptive parents and children go so well!

To our volunteers that arrived in Haiti to help during the evacuation of the children and the arrival of humanitarian aid.

Pastor Joel Trimble for video services and finding buses for all of the kids to get to the airport in Pap,

everyone at the PAP airport for allowing us to sit on the grass and be inside on the runway, to Vision Airlines that provided the charter jet and all of their employees that held babies on the flight!

To Miami International Airport staff and administration, who went beyond what was usual to make our arrival all of the way through the reunion with the parents and finding us a shuttle to our hotel. I take my hat off to them and I cannot express our gratitude with just these words!

To the Marriott Airport Hotel for their welcoming spirit and great hospitality. I will stay here again!

To limo service that CNN hired to come and take us to their office. The driver took us to Walmart to buy tarps and tents after the show and we appreciated it very much!

To everyone that had any thing to do with making this happen!

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