Jenison 3

The first person I saw in Grand Goave, of course, was Jenison, standing outside the gate at Mission of Hope as casually as if he had just happened by, as purposefully as if he had not moved a muscle since I last left him in May.  Jenison is ‘my Haitian’, he adopted me back in the summer of 2010 when he appointed himself my nail holder one day while I was building temporary shelters.  He has been a glue stick to my side ever since.  I have blogged about him twice before, calling him Jameson, but recently I learned his name is actually Jenison. Mispronunciation never compromised our affection.

Jenison is taller, his eyes just cleared the window as I opened the door and scooped down to pull him into me. He was endearing when he was eight, pixyish and smart, with a scary facility to mimic English. At ten the sores and blisters of a life lived out of doors mark his body and he has picked up the rudiments of begging.  He moans that he is hungry, which he probably is, and asks for dollars.  Unfortunately for him, my heart is more practical than soft and I make sure he gets a good plate of rice and beans rather than giving him a lollipop (peewilly in Creole), and I prefer to sit under a tree and look at the words and pictures in a magazine with him than give him money.

Stories abound about Jenison. Word is his mother died and that he was adopted by Brenda, the only woman I ever met here who works construction rather than cook and sweep.  If you ask Jenison if his mother died, he draws a somber face and whispers yes, and then just as quickly brightens to another antic.  There no way of knowing if she actually died or if he has just mastered another heart tug. The women’s very existence is lost in translation.

There is a hockey bag full of shoes under the counter at the job shack at Be Like Brit, ready to give any child who shows up at the site needing footwear.  Somehow Jenison knows about it; the kid seems to know about everything.  Sure enough the day after Len left and I am on my own at the job site Jenison shows up and asks for shoes. He is barefoot, but that is normal for him.  We rustle through the bag and find a nice pair of sneakers that fit with room to grow.  I give him a peewilly while we’re at it.  He thanks me with great appreciation and wears his sneakers outside.

I turn back to my work.  In a few minutes I look up and see Jenison, barefoot, new shoes in hand, racing down the hill. Maybe he’ll sell them.  Maybe he’ll keep them as a prize.  Maybe he just wanted them because he could get them.  The only thing I know for sure is that the next time I see Jenison; he won’t be wearing those shoes.  Shoes are not his style.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Jenison 3

  1. Irene Monroe says:

    Bonour Monsieur Paul, l’architect. Sak Pasé! Miss seeing you in hot yoga. You have a great website and I am enjoying reading it. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I also want to thank you for your time and dedication to bulidng Be Like Brit orphanage. I come out of an orphanage. Take precious care and Bonne Année! Irene
    P.S. In case you can’t place me, I am the African American woman who practices in the back of the class and who introuduced you to my friend Malkah Feldman and partner, Dr. Thea James who goes down to Haiti annually with a team of medical professionals.

    • Irene –

      Of course I remember you; you have the most beautiful head to feet pose. My head is still about a foot off the ground! Haiti is full of orphans and it is privilege to do what I can to help them have a better life., Sometimes that is building their new home, other times it is just spending time with them. Today I drew many soccer bolls and showed them how to make paper airplanes. I look forward to returning to yoga on Saturday.

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