Monday, September 13, 2010

The stolen soccer ball.

A little background first: I borrowed a soccer ball from the convent and played soccer with all the kids so they knew I had a ball. If you were wondering, soccer balls are like crack for kids anywhere but in the US. You give them a new soccer ball and you are better than Saint Nick. So the fact that I, the rich American, had a ball meant that someone was more than likely to get their hands on it.

Ose lives on the compound with his father, Sipo. He's a little bit of a hellion but not a bad kid overall. He is more familiar with the layout and knows my room, he also has no fear of punishment.

Well in the morning Ose and his sister were sitting at the open door waiting to pounce on me like a pair of catnip starved kittens. “Where is the ball?” “Give us the ball!” “Please, give us the ball.” “You can come play too!” I told them later but I saw the ravenous look of an addict in Ose's eyes, but I went and ate breakfast like usual not thinking anything of it. After breakfast I went to go get something out of my room and found my door open. I didn't even bother to check if they'd stolen any money, my camera, ipod, or radio. Most of the kids wouldn't know where to look for my money and wouldn't know what an ipod was...Still in shock I went straight to Ose.

“You no go in my room!” I said. “Mwen Pa Kompran (I don't understand),” the little long-fingered fiend replied! (Instead of saying the nine-fingered discount here they say a person “has long fingers” if they are prone to thievery. And Ose isn't really a fiend the word just sounded really good there.) Lucky for me there were a half dozen kids around who understood me and were HAPPY to interpret for Ose. The little fiend (see it's just fun to say) relented and he acknowledged that he can't go in my room. P.S. there is no way for me to lock my room. Not possible, unless I get a new door and door handle...So, Sr. Valeria and I went to go get some sand paper from the store and I let them play with the ball. In all honesty, it is my fault that I never saw my beloved George again. I had a pretty good inclination George would be lost to me forever, I just didn't know how much I cared about him until he was gone...

The trip to get the sand paper was uneventful. We walked in, I was quiet and she did the bargaining. It is hard to bargain with a Haitian when you have a Blan (foreigner) with you but nunsseem to make due. When we returned the playground was empty, no playing kids, no Ose and no Jeff, err George.

I found Ose later and had an in depth conversation with him while my friend John Roberts was around. He speaks great English and has been helping me learn Creole. With him correcting myCreole, I told Ose I wasn't angry, I was sad. He betrayed my friendship and I don't like it when friends steal from me. It makes me not trust them. I also told him that now that I don't have a ball I can't share with all the kids. I wrapped this little motivational speech up with telling him that I wasn't going to tell his dad. If he didn't understand anything I told him he understood that meant no beating. This was about as far as my Creole could go so we hugged it out Bear Grylls' style and moved on.

In the long run, Jeff was a fairly inexpensive ball but the principle remains the same. I'm trying to let these kids know I don't have money just lying around. I want to pay for all their needs, but I just can't. Instead I want them to know I'm here to help them in ways I can. By teaching them English or by just listening to them. Money isn't the thing a lot of these Haitians need. Sure money will help a small non-profit reach out to more people. But when you start throwing money at a population, they expect it.

It doesn't matter who you are, entitlement is a feeling all people get some point: I deserved an A, I deserved a raise, I deserve a umpa-lumpa. I don't care who you are we all feel this. It's part of being human. It's only a problem when you decide to take matters into your own hands; whether that be by telling Willy that you want one of his Golden Geese, or my treasured soccer ball.

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