Annette is a 40ish year old Haitian woman who has dwarfism. Due to the heavy influence of Voodoo, any kind of abnormality is seen as evil in the Haitian culture. So Annette was cast out by her family long ago.
The family lives a few doors down from the little concrete hut/pig sty that they banished Annette to when she was young, but they do little to help her live. Maybe a little food and water when they think about it, but not much else. They are embarrassed and ashamed of her so they keep her hidden away. In fact, they often put a rock in front of the tin doors to keep her from getting out.
Annette doesn’t speak. Only grunts. We were told the family used to keep their pigs in that same hut with her. She doesn’t have any way to bathe herself and she uses the bathroom where she sleeps. She is blind. And She is thin. Oh so very thin.
We visited Annette today.
She was scared, but we were able to come into her “home” with love. Her hands don’t work well, but she was able to grasp the peanut butter crackers we gave her to eat. Her mouth doesn’t work well, but she was eagerly drinking the water we gave her from a Nalgene bottle. She doesn’t like her face, hands or mid-range area of her body to be washed, but we were able to wash the grime off of her neck, arms, legs and feet.
She will never be able to thank us. She will never be able to repay us. She will never even be able to see us.
But, that is ok.
Because this is not about us.
This is all about her. It’s about loving her. It’s about showing her that – even though her family may forget her, be ashamed of her and even throw her away – God has not. Does not. Will not.
God has not forgotten Annette. She is more precious to Him than words could ever relay. I will never, ever understand how humans can treat another human in such a way as Annette’s family treats her.
But this is not a time or place for judgement. Her family is walking in just as much darkness as their blind sister. They are blind to the fact that she IS human and, therefore, worthy of love and life. My heart is broken for her, but it is fired up for them. Nothing about this family’s life is ok.
We are leaving Haiti in two days. But I don’t think Annette will ever leave my mind. I am mad. I am heartbroken. And I am unsure what to do about any of it. So tonight I will pray. And tomorrow I will pray. And the day after that and all the days following, I will pray.
And when God calls me to action, I hope I am brave enough to answer.
(Quick note: I am not including a photo because I am on assignment here in Haiti and am not sure which photos I will be allowed to use for personal purposes yet. Perhaps, in the future, I might be able to add one or two. For now, her story just needs to be shared.)