The following text comes from a blog post written from a very good friend of mine, Lauren Doeren. Laruen came to explore the Society Islands with me for one month and we were lucky enough to visit the SOS Children's Village in Papara, Tahiti together. What follows is the experience we shared in her own words.
I came to meet Lee with excitement and anxiousness knowing that I would be staying for 27 days with my dear friend who has lived alone, sailing for the last 18 months. My flight into Papeete was delayed 3 hours & my bag was left on the plane from DFW to LAX leaving me unsure as to how things would unravel. After a few days of adjusting, relaxing, provisioning & finally receiving my bag we began to explore the island with our couch surfer friend, Flo. Not knowing what to expect, this time in Tahiti has been full of delightful experiences.
Our first day out was spent with Flo and our other French friend Alexy, the local tomato farmer. We shared libations & waxed on about different cultural expressions & shared our native tongues into the wee hours of the night. What I noticed most then & still marvel at even today, 10 days into my trip is the pace of life here. Plans are made & always kept. Life moves a little bit slower. People are not so attached to their cell phones, e-mails & blogs. Most of us feel no need to be in a hurry, even when running late. Life here moves with the rise & fall of the sun. I’ve quietly observed while at a tire-fix-it shop or at the Carafoure (the Tahitian Target) that there’s no need to be in a hurry. I tell my friends & yoga students that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen. Here, life embodies this principle of experiencing life while it’s happening.
So after a few days of our dearest Flo e-mailing & connecting with (in French – mind you neither Lee nor I are fluent in) the director of the SOS Children’s Village here in Tahiti we were finally able to set up a rendez vous. We were greeted at the secure gate with traditional Tahitian big smiles by the security guard, a sixteen year old resident & “nanny.” After visitng for thirty minutes or so we learned a lot about how the village functions & what the facility offers to the children in need.
There are currently 48 children residing in the Tahiti village. Each house provides shelter for up to five children from no more than two different families. Most children have been placed in the custody of SOS by a local judge and/or local child protective services. Within the twelve homes in the village a “mother” or mamere (Flo please feel free to correct my French in a response to the posting) that resides with the children for five weeks at a time. They then have a one week holiday during which the “aunt” or mother’s assistant takes on the role & responsibility of the mother.
Much like in the United States during the summer, SOS Children in Tahiti are now on holiday for six weeks. For SOS children in Tahiti this means they’re at summer camp or rather winter camp. Only the newest residents & the children less than six years of age were at the village during our visit. We were very happy to play and share dinner with the residing Aunt’s, five little boys & one sixteen year old young man who remain on campus during the winter break.
Being a mother of two young girls & knowing how excitable children can be, I must say these kids were beyond thrilled to have us in their company. Lee & his camera were the hit of the evening. Lee literally became a human jungle gym. The boy’s attached themselves playfully with invisible glue to him, eager to win his attention even though Lee (despite his grand efforts, cannot speak a lick of French without sounding Spanish) & the children do not share the same language. We ate dinner, the boys (not the older one of course) were so sweetly saying “thank you very much” in high pitched French accents while trying to flick noodles at Lee while the Aunts were looking the other way. Of course, Lee was eager to play along. All playing aside, I must say these children, while being kids, were very well behaved and respectful. The beautiful thing to me is that they were being kids. One would never know that they came from broken homes or horrible situations from their demeanor. The village, the homes, the dinner table all felt like a home.... A place where the kids could be kids, learn & grow into healthy wonderful people.
Ok. Notice, just now from Lee. The generator is going to die before too long. That means the laptop is going to die. There are many more wonderful experiences to share from buying black pearls to swimming in the beautiful water on a black sandy beach & my experience with “land sickness” that would surely entertain you the reader. But we’ll save that for another day. As the French would say, “a tout a l’heure” or “a bientot” – till next time, best wishes. LD.