In short...here is her story. Mita is the 2nd oldest in a family of 5 children. Her parents live out in a small village and are struggling to provide for their kids. In January 2011, another lady who lives in the same village connected Mita's parents with a lady here in Port au Prince who told her parents that she wanted to take Mita in as her child-provide for her and send her to school.
That did not happen.
When I moved to Port au Prince in May, Odessa and I loved with David's family for 6 weeks. They have a very small house and a lot of people living in it. I quickly found out that the unfinished roof was the only place to get away. One evening when I was on the rooftop hideout, I saw a little girl (about 8 or 9 yrs old) next door doing laundry by hand. She was sitting on a step, looking down and washing away. Her hair was a mess and her clothes were about 2 sizes too small. It's very common in Haiti for girls this age to be doing laundry so I didn't think much about it.
A few days later David introduced me to his cousin who has a little boy so we went over so Odessa could play. This was the first time I met Mita. She was cooking. I said Hi, she looked up and said Hi and went back to work. I was introduced to the other kids but not her. I asked about her and was told she was the lady's niece. We stayed a while and as we were leaving I saw Mita was washing the dishes. She never left her work for the hour or so we were there.
That evening back at David's house, I asked about her. David said and I quote, "Pa mete tet ou la." Which translates basically to, "Don't go there."
Those of you who know me can probably guess what I did the first chance I got. I waited until I saw the lady leave her house and I went over. With a hairbrush and hair cream and barrettes. Mita let me in. She was doing laundry. I told her I needed to practice doing black hair and since Odessa doesn't sit still, I was going to do hers. She smiled and went and got 2 chairs. We were quite the entertainment to people passing by. When David got out of school I was still there and he came and took pictures.
In that hour or so time period, I learned a lot about Mita's birth family. And that she missed them so much.
I learned she hadn't been out of the small house (no more than 500 sq ft) once in the 5 months since she came.
I learned that when she giggled, my heart melted. I mean melted. As in tears welling up in my eyes with a long deep breath in and forgetting to let it out.
I wanted to take her that minute and run. I almost did. I went back to David's house and prayed and thought and prayed and thought. I thought about putting up a request here on my blog for money to go to a hotel with her. I thought about calling another missionary to ask for a ride for us to go find her family. I thought about taking her down to the US Embassy to ask for humanitarian parole so she could go to the states.
I saw her everyday and started asking questions to the lady who had her. Like, "Why isn't Mita in school? I see your kids are in school." She said Mita doesn't have a birth certificate so she couldn't enroll her. I explained to her that birth certificates are about $7 US and I would be happy to help her get Mita one if that would help her be able to go to school. She said she would do it.
In September, I asked about the birth certificate again as school was starting in October. She said she sent money to Mita's mother to go get it but "Li te maje kob la." (translated-she ate the money.) Yep that's what hungry people who can not feed their children do!
Then I learned a piece of information that could help me help Mita. Mita is from the village I worked in for 3 years! Her family still lives there. So I told the lady that when I went back to that village at the end of the month I would ask where her family lives and go with mom to get a birth certificate, knowing this would put pressure on her.
Then amazingly enough, Mita started school before I went back to the village. (I guess I applied just enough pressure) She was put in a free mission school that doesn't require a birth certificate (which also means it is not licensed), nevertheless, she was put in school. Ofourse she still had chores to do before school and after school-like ALL the chores in the household, but she was in school.
David and I got permission a few times to take her out with us when we would go do something with Odessa and David' younger sister. We went out to Pizza once and Mita came. We had Domino's pizza in a real restaurant with air conditioning. I think Mita ate 7 pieces. Literally. I was afraid she was going to throw up in the car on the way home.
Over the months I could tell my constant questioning of what was going on with Mita was getting on the nerves of people in David' family. And David too.
Now insert our first (real) fight ever.
One evening we were talking about something and out of the blue, I brought Mita up. He just looked and me and I said, "What?" He said, "Some things you don't want to get involved in."
Then I said...blah blah blah and he countered with blah blah blah.
Eventually I said, "I am going to do this. I am going to help her. I don't know how. But I will. If I make your family mad or your cousin mad, then they'll be mad. But this is the right thing to do. I CAN NOT turn my head. I WILL NOT turn my head. This is wrong. Jesus never would have treated a child this way and I don't believe he would have turned his head. If you don't want to be a part of it then tell me now and I'll do it myself."
"They are not beating her and she is eating better than she was in the village with her family." That was his reply.
Not many of you reading this have met David. And he doesn't speak English so even if you have met him you probably don't know how kind and sweet and encouraging he is. He is honest and sincere and can make anybody laugh and feel comfortable.
Why didn't he see what was going on with this child? Why didn't he understand?
But I am looking at it through American eyes while he is with Haitian eyes.
So giving it my last shot I asked him if he could see the difference between Odessa and Mita. In their attitudes, facial expressions, reactions, non-verbal gestures. I asked him if he was going to raise his children like his cousin was raising Mita? I asked him why his cousin treats her own children way different than Mita.
I asked him what he would say if when he stood before God, God asked him why he turned his head?
He said we were stirring up problems. Yep. We sure did.
He said his family would be mad. Yep. They are.
He said we can't change the whole system here in Haiti. But we started.
This is getting way too long...sorry! The rest is the Reader's Digest version.
We went to the village and found Mita's family last month. She looks exactly like them! My voice shook as I talked with her mother as I knew I was at the point of no return. Her mother misses her and was promised they would bring Mita back every couple months to see her. But she hadn't seen her since January-11.5 months! I talked to mom about getting her birth certificate-as that is how she could go get Mita if she wanted to or how I could help her find another place for her. She said she would do it. We explained to mom that we wanted to bring Mita with us to visit but that the lady keeping her wouldn't let us.
Well David's cousin did take her to Jacmel to see her mom for New Years. The good news is Mita didn't come back. She is with her family.
The bad news is David's family is not happy with us. Guess we stirred too much. The good news is David is not upset about it. We went over to his house last Monday together to talk to his mom. We sat quietly as she gave us what for with finger pointing and everything. Saying how you don't get in the business of other people's families. How the extended family is upset because David's cousin told them we told Mita's mother lies to get to not let Mita go back, about how told Mita to tell her mother she was being abused.
(None of these things are true, but sound very much like things someone who is mad would say. )
When David's mom (who I respect very much) was done "talking" to us, David told her that he doesn't regret what he did. He said if the family can't see why we tried to help Mita then they should look into how God feels about the situation.
Then he old his mom, "If one day when I am standing before God, and He asks me what I did to help Mita I can say I did more than just turn my head."
Even though he said it very respectfully, I thought she might smack him in the mouth. She just looked at us. I was beaming! I couldn't help it. I could tell by the way he said it he was starting to look at the situation through God's eyes.
Although I did not want to get smacked in the mouth either, or have my boyfriend's family (the rest had gathered round for the "discussion") mad at me (let's face it-I am already an outsider in their Haitian family), I decided I needed to let them know who their son was dating (if they hadn't already figured it out). I told them it never was my intention to make anyone mad. But that there are things I can't keep my mouth shut about. That I believe there are things that God wants me to speak up about and make known and try to make right.
I still don't know how I feel about the situation. I don't regret my actions. I can't help but cringe when thinking how I stirred up trouble with David's family.
But I also can't help but smile when I think of reunions and freedom.