62,000 people. That is the estimated number of Haitians who are still displaced from the 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti in January 2010; a heartbreaking disaster that claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced as many as 3 million people.
Elouse’s four cousins
….this is only 1% of the 900 people who lost their lives in Haiti to Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
900 lives…fathers, mothers, teachers, grandmas, little brothers, babies…lost in the waters of a sea that came on land and washed it out. A land crushed under debris created by a 145mph wind that knocked down concrete walls and tore down palm trees as if they were saplings just transplanted from a kindergarten classroom the day before.
To say that we feel for our sisters and brothers in Haiti is an understatement. My heart is heavy and it wants to scream because although it believes that we, together, will make things better, it is hard to see the road ahead when there is such a harsh wind blowing in one’s face.
To look at the state of Haiti now, with the lack of food and access, and the abundance of poverty, one may not remember how powerful a nation Haiti actually is.
In the 18th century, Toussaint-Louverture, Henri Christophe and Dessalines revolted in an effective guerilla war against the French colony. All three had been enslaved: they successfully ended slavery and regained freedom for the nation. They did this in 1791 against the French, in 1801 against the Spanish conquest, and in 1802 against an invasion ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte. They renamed Saint-Dominique after its original Arawak name, Haiti, which became the second independent nation in the Americas.
Such history should not go unnoticed because it is a significant example of the perseverance, love, and determination that courses through the veins of Haitians.
If I could say anything to my sisters and brothers in Haiti right now, if I could speak at all, I would say this:
“In the midst of the chaos; the heartbreak; the loss of life; the search for lives; the feeling that rebuilding will simply take too much energy…again; the pain; the tears that will run dry; the anguish, and all the feelings that weigh down your soul and may make you doubt your abilities, please remember who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you are capable of doing. You do not stand alone, because we stand with you. You do not sit alone, you do not swim alone, you do not cry alone, you do not hug your loved ones alone, you do not cry alone.
You do not cry alone, and you will not rebuild alone.
We are with you.
We are with you and we will laugh together again and you will see that we can get out of this. Please believe with me. I know it’s hard right now, and I do not pretend to understand what you’re going through, but please believe with me”.
To anyone who would like to assist, you may consider contacting any and all of these organizations:
Food For The Poor
Save the Children
Please remember that there is also a cholera outbreak because of lack of clean water, and it is also claiming lives. Help is needed most urgently! Please lets do what we can.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this hurricane, not only in Haiti but in neighboring countries including the southern US states. Sending you all love and happiness in the hopes that you keep believing and looking forward to another sunrise.
Have you ever been directly affected by a devastating storm? What would you say to those who are trying to rebuild their lives?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia at ThinkSayBe. Photo credit: Ricardo’s Photography. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Watching a storm brew from my balcony…my house was hit by lightning 30 min later!
Greek summer has always been a challenge for me, even though most of my friends and relatives think I’m insane. People from all over the world spend small fortunes on heading to the land which created the first Olympic Games and has countless beaches, monuments and fascinating historical sites to visit. So when I confess that Greek summer is usually a nightmare for me they are shocked.
My main issue is the overwhelming heat. The temperature is usually between 35°C and 42°C (around 95 and 108°F). That’s just too much for me to handle during the day and it means that at night the house is uncomfortably hot. It’s so difficult to sleep and at least one of us can usually be found prowling around in the early hours of the morning trying to find a cool spot. Unfortunately, the best of these spots is directly in front of the fridge…that means that my family nearly always gains weight during the summer period! September always heralds the arrival of requests for gym membership and low fat meals.
Another issue that most parents have in Greece is the incredibly long school break. High school finishes the regular curriculum in the middle of May and resumes again around the 10th of September. When the teaching programme finishes in May the students go to school for a couple of hours in the morning several days a week to do their end of year exams. The exam period lasts five weeks. That means that parents of children in Greece have the pleasure of seeing their offspring for four whole months. There are no regular lessons, unless the parents can afford to send their child to summer school or pay for private tuition. My children went to a private school this year so I thank the Lord that they were busy until the middle of July! Having time to drink a leisurely coffee in the morning and catch up on e-mails without being hounded by your permanently hungry teen, should NEVER be taken for granted!
Private schools and tuition brings me on to my next summer difficulty: being able to save enough money during the eight months I work a year to cover the extra expenses we have during the long vacation. My teens have virtually all day free apart from a couple of hours they spend studying, revising and training for judo. Not a day passes without them asking, pleading or sometimes blackmailing me to give them money to go to the town and meet their friends! That means that I rarely go out, as I simply can’t afford it.
Most of my summer is spent at home trying to escape the gruelling temperatures. Thank heavens I have many online friends to ‘hang out’ with, otherwise the four months would never end! My teens also want to go to summer camp with their friends, so that’s another expense which makes it difficult to make ends meet. I really celebrate when September arrives and my kids only have time to go out on Saturdays! I also start working again at this time of year so things tend to get better in the fall.
So that’s the heat, the long school break, and the expense of a summer in Greece covered, but then there is also the weather…
Summer storms in the mainland area of Greece where I live are frequent and unpredictable. Last summer as I was gathering clothes from the washing line, a sheep was struck dead by lightening very close to where I was standing! It was a terrifying experience, for us both I imagine, and as a result I am very stressed this year every time I hear a thunderclap.
Our house was hit AGAIN this year and on another occasion shortly after that the electricity column next to my house was also ‘attacked’ during one of our frequent summer storms. The whole area was left without power for several days which meant cooking and cooling systems had to be abandoned. I gave away a lot of frozen food to friends in the town as the lack of fridge/freezer was the biggest nightmare. No cool spot at all during the blackout! My modem was also blown to smithereens and I don’t even want to recall the pain of being offline for several days!
Ok, so now that I told you how I really feel about summer in Greece, I will end it on some positives. Here’s goes…I can say that I enjoy having lots of time to catch up with my online friends and reading as many books as I like. This year I have also spent real quality time with my two sons who actually want to hang out with me. My 15-year old decided to stay at home while his brother went camping with friends. This was a total surprise as he just wanted to spend time reading books and chilling out with me. He hasn’t wanted to do that for several years! My 16 year old formally invited me to watch judo during the Olympic Games and actually insisted on me being with him so that we could bet on who we thought would win each match…I’m not sure whether I should be flattered by the invitation or worried that I have produced a gambler!
At least this year my two teens think I’m cool enough to hang out with in public (on the front balcony) and to participate in underage gambling (watching judo) in the privacy of our home….
How do you deal with a long summer vacation? What activities are your children involved in?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Ann Maria in Greece.
Lately, my life seems to be a blustery gale of unexpected mishaps and then, just when the sun dares to peek through the clouds, an unseasonal hailstorm unleashes its wrath to put me back in my place.
I mean this both metaphorically and literally.
The weather has been unusually freaky in my part of Greece with storms that would put parts of Asia to shame. We’ve had our house, outdoor furniture and internet connection damaged as well as being scared out of our wits due to a few close calls with Mother Nature. A neighbour’s sheep was struck dead by lightning – yes, DEAD – about 10 metres from where I was standing!!!
What was I doing hanging out in the middle of a thunderstorm with a sheep? I’d rushed outside to gather clothes off the washing line before they were blown all the way to India or someplace where such meteorological phenomenon are more common. The only positive result from this close encounter is that all my body hair has a rather lovely demi-wave and swishes beautifully when caught in a breeze. Must be a result from the static electricity when the lightning struck so close. It’s a shame the poor sheep wasn’t so lucky.
Apart from trying to dodge lightning strikes and hurricane winds, health problems and work-related issues have also plagued my family for a while. Thank goodness the health issues aren’t life threatening, but they are constant and irritating. No sooner does one of my family get over one thing, than another member gets something completely different. A few days ago I finally recovered from a particularly vicious case of gastroenteritis. On the same day my sons got sick with flu…! Hubby is now complaining of stomach cramps. HELP.
We only have one bathroom and it’s seen rather a lot of action recently!
Most adults go through such phases in life and especially moms with kids, of course.
Mothers are used to all the childhood maladies that life tends to throw at us.
If you’re lucky, you may have a partner who can help take care of your sick offspring while you try to nap or catch up on all the backlog of chores threatening to overwhelm. However, at least one of you, if not both, will have to go to work to earn extra money for the medical bills and medication as such situations put a strain on the family income. So, traditionally, it’s mom who stays home and tries to cope with the patients hoping that she doesn’t get ill herself.
I’m lucky that my mother-in-law lives so close as there have been times when the four of us have been really ill, and we needed a care taker to make us a hot drink and bring us medicine. I don’t know how people living in isolated areas cope. What about families who live far away from friends and loved ones? Perhaps they have just moved and haven’t had time to build up a support network. What happens when most or all of their family have been struck with some nasty little bug or mischievous virus?
These questions have been troubling me a great deal lately.
These insecurities are worming themselves into my psyche and sqeezing out every bit of creativity and imagination. I’m not the positive person I used to be, but feel I’m moving sluggishly in a black cloud.
So many predominantly negative things have been thrust randomly in my life recently that I’m starting to wonder if someone has put a curse or the ‘evil eye’ on me.
Greeks, of course, take such things pretty seriously, and many people wear jewellery in the form of a blue eye around their wrist or neck. This is supposed to help protect from negative vibes and illness.
Next time I’m shopping I’ll have to remember to buy a few dozen.
On the work front, I have been almost stressed to death with the uncertainty of our family income. Most Greeks are in the same boat though, and especially civil servants who don’t know if they will receive a pay cheque next month or not due to the country’s recent financial crisis. Several of our friends have either left Greece or are planning to abandon ship in the near future.
We are giving our two teenage sons the tools and skills to be able to study and work abroad if they choose, as life and survival in the country of their birth is so precarious.
The only way that I can deal with this stormy ride and find some moments of peace is to spend time in my OWN SPECIAL PLACE.
I have my ‘private’ sofa and TV/radio which is connected to the kitchen. It’s very cosy and convenient as I can keep an eye on the oven and read, sew or watch TV at the same time. The other three members of my family have their own larger living room and hardly ever sit in mine. I rarely go out socially because of my family obligations, so it’s the place I can be to chill out and unload. It’s my personal little area to try to make sense of the messy time we’re going through. I can ramble and ponder at my leisure. Should we try to sit out the storm and remain in Greece? Start somewhere else without a social network or support group? Dig up the roots we have taken a couple of decades to grow?
It’s no wonder we’re constantly ill-ish.
And it’s no wonder that the Gods have echoed the political/social climate and tossed cataclysmic rocks at us.
What are your stresses/worries at the present time? Do you have a special place you like to be to try to chill out and work things out?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ann Marie Wraight of Greece. Photo credit to the author.
When we first married we lived in an apartment in the heart of a big metropolis. It was practical to live near everything we needed and be able to do all of our errands by foot or bus (in fact, we had no car and walked to work). However, we missed having green. We started looking for a house in a nice region on the outskirts of the metropolitan area, near a forest reservation.
When we finally found a place we could afford to rent it wasn’t exactly your typical house. The owner had built two tiny guest houses in the back of a property he had initially planned to build a regular house in the front of later on; but that never happened.
On the upside we were living glued to a fragment of Atlantic rainforest and our son now had a huge garden to play in. On the downside, the house wasn’t exactly practical.
One of the guest houses had two rooms, a kitchen and a terrace. There we installed our son’s room and ours. However, the kitchen was so small it would only fit the fridge OR the stove, so we had to put the fridge in the second guesthouse and crossover all the time, sun or rain.
The second guesthouse, in turn, had a living room/terrace, one room (which became our library/office), the main bathroom and a pantry of sorts (we squeezed in the fridge instead). The roof had no lining, which wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have constant animal visitors coming in (lots of funny stories about that!).
Later on, when we were able to buy the our place, we decided to apply our limited funds to adapt the two guesthouses. An architect friend did his best to join them together into a single, more conventional house.
Our bedroom was expanded and incorporated the tiny kitchen and part of the terrace. A living room was built to join the two houses, which took the shape of a “J”. The main bathroom and former pantry gave place to the new kitchen. Part of the terrace became the laundry room. We lined the roof, installed mold-proof open wardrobes, and installed a large bathtub where our two other children were later to be born.
Nevertheless, all of this did not happen at one time. As I said, we had limited funds and every time these funds began to wane we had to stop.
At three different and stressful moments a lot of work was done in the house, including once, when during three very challenging months, we had to live at my mother-in-law’s.
Now, years later, we still live in a very unconventional house.
Besides the bedrooms, we never put in windowpanes or doors. The terrace/living room still opens completely into the forest – a curse and a blessing all at once! And even though our financial situation has improved considerably over the past few years, it has been four years since our last attempt at home improvement.
Aside from the occasional efforts to clean/fix the roof from the huge amount of leaves we get, we haven’t done much. Every time we think of all the stress involved we decide to postpone any kind of big project.
Despite everything, I love my house and its garden. I believe things will get better as our children grow older and we have more time and energy for housekeeping and improvement. My husband, on the other hand, thinks there is no way to make this house work and we should just move elsewhere, even though he also loves the closeness to the forest. The truth is he would like to live on a small farm, although I have safety concerns. Thus, every once in a while we go house or farm hunting.
Stay tuned! Part 2 coming soon…
How about you, what are your stories with house remodeling and moving? Please share below?
This is part 1 of a two part, original post to World Moms Blog from our contributor and mom of three in Brazil, Ecoziva.
The image used in this post is attributed to Karen Roe. It carries a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
There are clouds over London again. But if you stop and look up and squint, you will see a tell-tale pearlescent lining that was not there before.
The trees along this street stand tall and bristle-dark as they have through the winter months. But if you stop and look up and squint, you will see small, white buds that were not there before.
When the mornings come now, they arrive a little earlier on a bobbing melody of birds.
The children wake more easily now, and swing their bare legs out of bed without a wince.
Outside, the people at the bus-stop at the end of the road turn to each other and smile and nod before they board the fat red double-decker that bears them away to the city.
I feel a lightness in me that has been absent for a while.
At home, I unlatch windows that have stiffened and swollen over the last few months. They groan, then give, suddenly, in my hand, and swing open. The outside air rushes in. It smells different.
In the back garden, my birthday rose is turning green.
I stand quietly then smile and give thanks.
Other people’s words come to me. I think of e.e. cummings’ poem in Just, which sings of a world that is “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” I think of Philip Larkin’s Trees and its whisper: “Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.” And I think of Gerard Manley Hopkins asking: “What is all this juice and all this joy?”
What is it? It’s Spring. The seasons have turned, at last.
How will you celebrate?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophie Walker of the United Kingdom. Photo credit: Karen Arnold. This picture has a public domain license.
In the last five days, the Philippines has been under a slew of storms, heavy rains and flooding brought about by the tropical storm Trami. It has claimed lives, displaced thousands, and left much of the northern part of Luzon (the Philippines’ northern region) in drenched shambles.
A tragedy? Yes. But quite normal in our country, unfortunately. We go through this every year, every monsoon season. Imbalanced infrastructure, compounded with the problems of informal settlers, i.e. squatters and poorly managed drainage systems: these are all “part and parcel” of what our nation has gotten used to when the rainy season strikes around this time of year. Add that to the current corruption scandals involving pork barrel abuses in our country, and you have quite a mess, served “Pinoy” style (or, as we like to say, halo-halo, i.e. “mix-mixed”.)
Poverty. Politics. Calamity. These are words flooding my social media news feeds lately. Some are angry at the state of the nation — and rightly so.
But, despite the negatives, the “Filipino spirit” holds up. I’d say it does so every year, especially in times like these when unmerciful monsoon rains strike our nation’s morale down to all-time lows. Inasmuch as there are angry tweets shaking virtual fists and fingers at corruption in the government, there are hashtags of hope tweeting updates about relief efforts, blasting out encouragement in the face of calamity. (more…)