When Cowen arrived at KKO in October 2010, he was placed in the care of Tina, a 19 year old American girl who had moved to KKO so she could serve in Haiti and learn all that she could. She wanted to know how she could help in Haiti after the earthquake. She'd been there since the summer and wanted a child to take care of.
Cowen came in and she was excited to have her own little charge. Then night time came and she wondered if she'd made a horrible mistake! He screamed and cried from fear and was unconsolable. He refused to sleep. There was nothing she could do! But she loved him.
Tina and Cowen have a great bond. It is thanks to her that he adjusted so well to life at KKO. He became a social butterfly, was able to run and stretch his legs, to play with other kids. And he formed that trust that Tina would be there to meet his needs.
The nights were pretty rough for quite a while. If Tina left and Cowen had to sleep in another room or with another care taker, he had such a hard time. One caretaker told her "he sleeps ugly."
Poor Tina existed without sleep for quite some time. She was often awakened in the night to a nasty diaper that had leaked out all over her bed, or to a little boy having nightmares.
When I visited in December that first time, Cowen came right to me, calling me mommy, I'm sure because Tina had told him I was coming and shown him photos. He was very open to me. Then, night time came. We spent that first night, all 3 of us, in Tina's bed. The second night we made it about halfway through before Tina came to offer comfort. You could her him screaming for her all over KKO.
I swayed and held and rocked and sang (yes sang!) and paced the floor and cried. I held him tight, telling him in a nice sweet voice that he was stubborn but had met his match. This was a battle I would win. Unlike Tina, I am not 19 and can not survive without sleep! This was the battle I choose to win.
I'm proud to say that he slept, he took naps for hours in the afternoon. Even after I left his nights were easier and a lot less ugly. When I visited in April, and again in November, nighttime and nap time are no longer scary fights. Praise God!
Tina did have to leave KKO in July of 2011. She came back to the US, but not before marrying her best friend in Haiti. She had to come home and take care of some things, visit family, but was soon reunited with Marc and is now working in Haiti, teaching at a school and helping to teach life skills to other women. She is a strong, devoted follower of Christ and I am so proud of her! Cowen had a hard time when she left, but he does get to see her at church, which is great. He knows she didn't just disappear and leave him.
In his room here is a framed photo of the three of us from that December. We will always love Aunt Tina, and I will always be grateful and thankful for her! I speak for all the parents of kids at KKO when I say THANK YOU, TINA!! When she was there she would skype us with our kids, she would upload photos, and I always knew that if Cowen was sick, he was comforted. She gave us all such peace of mind being there with the kids. Always patient and kind, Tina is a hero to us! I look forward to a day when she can visit us here, in Columbus!