I know where Oberline lives. At the very top of the mountain. My good friend and translator Patchouko and I made an early morning, surprise hike to find her. We didn’t want them to know we were coming, because things are quickly polished up before we arrive. Soon as we reached the top, kids went running to find her, so we had to move quickly. I had no time to get my camera out of the pack once I saw her. She was running away from me to hide out of embarrassment. Her clothes were literally rags, and she’d been out climbing trees to bring the family Aprico, a Haitian fruit that grows there naturally. That’s one of her many jobs that must be carried out, along with hauling water from a very great distance, every day. When she doesn’t do her job well enough, she is simply beaten. They showed me a bed where they said she slept. My friend told me that there is no way she’d be allowed a bed to sleep. She was in a social class below that luxury. In the rafters of the small shack are the tell-tale signs of voodoo. Black bags and nets, hanging overhead.
I’d asked her to come down the mountain the next day, but when she didn’t show, I happened to be hiking right by her house on another mission with Pam, the founder of Mission-Haiti. An hour later, her cousin Modeline, Oberline and I, were skipping down the mountain together towards the orphanage by the sea.
Once we got down, the first thing my wife noticed is that it had been a very long time since either of them had bathed. Even though our shower in the orphanage is just a bucket of cold well water, I don’t think they’d ever experienced such a treat. Standing outside the showers I could hear Oberline giggling uncontrollably, splashing water all over, using our little bar of Ivory soap. She was giddy. Kari noticed a rib protruding in a very jagged way from Oberline’s side, and one of the nurses in the orphanage confirmed it had been broken for quite some time. She’d need surgery to heal it properly, and in this little girl’s life, she’d sooner win the lottery than ever be afforded that opportunity.
When I asked my little 7 year old Abby if she’d mind giving up a couple of dresses for them, she just smiled and said to me, “I can always get another one in America. Down here, we ARE their store.” She gave away her two favorite dresses without another thought.
We ate some food, the kids threw a mini tea party in honor of their guests, and Oberline told my son that she’d been taught up the mountain that our God was very small, but that Satan was very big.
I illustrated my beliefs the best I could. Satan pitit (little), and Bondye Gwo! (God is Big!) Then I looked up and fell backwards onto the ground. Oberline got a real kick out of that.
Lucy, one of the orphanage girls whose smile is like a lighthouse in the night, ran up to her room, grabbed her Haitian bible and crossed out her own name. She wrote in Oberline’s name and gave it to her straight away.
By that time, these two Haitian girls were so excited and happy that they were ready to sing. Bashfully with the camera pointed their direction, they began to sing, and here is their first International Debut. 🙂 May I present Modeline Guerrier and Oberline Limite…
Update: Andi Gedna translated the theme of this song for me. It is a Haitian Catholic Song. It speaks of being hungry and in great need, asking Father God, who is innocent, to come, begging Him to help them.