Wednesday Evening – Bonswa friends,


Ydson Now

Yesterday I sat on a porch of a busy household on a narrow dirt road in a rickety little town outside of Haiti’s second largest city, Cap Haitian. Bright red hibiscus flowers pushed their way through the wrought iron porch gate and there were a few crumbs of rice on the tile floor where children recently sat and ate their lunches from frisbee plates. On either side of me sat several young neighborhood girls coloring pages from a book I’d brought. ( I never travel without a coloring book and a box of crayons.) In front of me was a little boy in a stroller. I was pushing it back and forth with my feet.

The girls were fascinated by the color by number aspect of their pages and I was explaining to them how they could learn their colors in English by following the color by number chart. The oldest young lady was practicing her English lessons from school, speaking slowly and articulating well. All of us were taking turns talking to the little boy, exercising his hands and feet and adjusting his head with a soft blanket roll to help strengthen his neck muscles. Once in a while his eyes would brighten wide and a soft smile would cross his face as fleeting as the occasional breeze that blew in the otherwise still air.

The little boy of course is Ydson, Little Y, Son Son. He spends his days now at Footprints of the Son, a school for children with special needs. At night he is well cared for by a family in that community. I had the privilege of spending yesterday morning with Ydson in his preschool class. The night before he spent an overnight with me, and I was able to get him washed and dressed for school and feed him breakfast —just like old times.

The morning class began with music. Every child had an instrument and each played along to Christmas songs with unbridled delight. I posted on Facebook their accompaniment to Feliz Navidad. I also recorded their version of Jingle Bells but as I was crying through most of it the recording wasn’t any good. Ydson got to wear jingle bells on his wrist for his part and a teacher played rhythm sticks near him in an effort to let him sense vibration.

After that they colored nativity pictures. His teacher placed the crayon in his hand and gently pushed it back and forth on the page, counting one, two, one, two with each movement. His orange baby Jesus is now on my fridge. When the class worked on puzzles I placed different shaped pieces in his hands and helped him feel around all the edges. When they practiced their numbers by jumping on each of five red squares, I lifted Ydson from square to square for his turn. The children counted for him–en, de, twa, kat, senk–as I lifted him high for each jump. They clapped and shouted bravo when he finished with his usually unflexed feet landing firmly on the final square.   A few more songs, a game of Ring Around the Rosie and it was time for lunch and an afternoon of socializing with the neighborhood kids. A tiring day of stimulation for Ydson.  24 happy hours for me.

Ydson’s life was not always this way. Just one year ago Christmas he was abandoned at the Wesleyan Hospital on La Gonave. Malnourished, dehydrated, sick with respiratory distress and covered in rashes, no doctor or nurse believed he could live. But inside Ydson’s dark and silent  world is a stubborn light that refuses to go out. And that quality draws people to him. ( He’s also adorable.) He neither hears, sees, nor noticeably responds to those drawn to him, but that makes him more fully loved by those same people. His young mother, who did the unthinkable by abandoning a dying child with no intention of seeing him again, unwittingly gave him a chance for life unimaginable in Haiti for a child with Ydson’s disabilities.

We’re given only a handful of chances to love someone so unconditionally that there is no thought of ever receiving love in return. Ydson is part of my little handful. Though I know him very well, I might never know if he knows me and it’s difficult to discern what he feels other than when he’s angry or calm. His rare and incredible smiles are a mystery. We might wonder why it has to be this way. We might wonder why Ydson had to be abandoned and struggle so for life. We might wonder what moved nurses, doctors and strangers to keep prodding for his veins even when they couldn’t find them and scurry for diapers and discarded clothes for his tiny frame when there was no one to claim him. We might wonder why such a child would push everyone who sees him–the cleaning ladies, the night watchmen, the painters, the judge,  the visitors–to such compassion. We might wonder why this little somebody who was almost a nobody should enter our lives. We might wonder.  We only know that everyone has to be somebody, and somebody had to be Ydson.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas season, Jwaye Nwel. Affectionately, Nancy


One Year Ago

Update: If you are part of Team Ydson you may know that as of January 1st Made Known will not be part of Colorado Gives. If you make a recurring contribution it will not be withdrawn for January. Keep checking on the fb page for how to continue giving in 2016.  Regarding his birth certificate, I made very little progress with the court clerk in charge of giving it to me despite the signed documents from the mayor’s office. He told me to come back in January.  It is always the same with these guys: does he walk, does he see, does he hear? No? Why does he need a birth certificate? And my answer is always the same. Paske li se moun, because he’s a person.