Someone from a nearby orphanage came by our bakery last week giving us a paper asking if we could please give them some free bread for their Christmas meal with the kids.
That sounded like a worthwihle cause, so on Christmas Eve I purchased six platters of rolls (about 300) to donate to this orphanage for the kids dinner on Christmas day.
I asked Bilhah, our secretary and cashier, to call the number for the orphanage (given on the paper) to let them know we would donate. I also requested we verify where the orphanage was located so we could easily find them.
A little later, I asked Bilhah if she had called the orphanage yet? She told me she couldn’t get ahold of them by phone, but Wilson (one of the men in our program) knew where the orphanage was and could deliver it no problem.
Sounded like a good plan to me.
In the afternoon I decided to follow up with our charitable donations. I caught up with Wilson and asked how the dropoff went? Was the orphanage happy to get some free bread for Christmas?
Wilson responded, “No, I didn’t take the bread over there, Jovany was the one who ended up doing it.” Oh, ok.
So I went and found Jovany. I asked, “Was the orphanage happy to receive the bread we sent today for Christmas?”
Jovany told me, “Oh, I didn’t end up taking that bread there. Carl, our security guard, was the one who went and delivered the bread to the orphanage.”
I couldn’t find Carl, so I left the issue for the present.
Today I saw Carl and first thing I asked was, “Hey, did you deliver the bread to the orphanage?” Carl speaks some English so I spoke to him in English.
Carl answered, “Yes, I can do that.”
I was puzzled. “No, I’m not asking if you can do that, I’m asking if you went and delivered the bread to that orphanage on Christmas Eve? The bread we donated?”
“Yep, no problem, I can do that.”
“No, not can you do that, did you do that? I’m talking about the bread we donated to an orphanage two days ago. I was told you were the one who made the delivery.”
“Oh yeah, I did do that, I took it to them.”
“So, how did it go? Were they surprised? Did they say anything?”
“No, they didn’t say anything.”
Carl added, “I didn’t actually go to the orphanage because I don’t know where it is.”
Not too surprising. Wilson was the one who knew where it was, not our security guard.
“So, where did you go? Did you deliver the bread somewhere?”
“Yeah, I delivered it to the grocery store.”
“What did you do with the bread at a grocery store?”
“Oh, I gave it to Merlin.”
“Who is Merlin?”
“Oh, you don’t know who Merlin is? He was the contact I was supposed to give the bread to.”
“Really? So… let’s get this straight: you gave the bread to a guy named Merlin at a grocery store? Well… did he say anything? Like perhaps Thanks?””
“No, because Merlin wasn’t actually at the grocery store. I never saw him.”
“Of course. That’s only natural. So who did you give the bread to then?”
“Merlin’s brother. He was there and said he’d take the bread for Merlin. I don’t remember the brother saying anything.”
I was a bit confused, so I went back where I had started and found Bilhah to get clarification.
“Bilhah, do you remember that bread we donated to the orphanage Christmas Eve?”
“Were you ever able to get ahold of the orphanage on the phone?”
“Oh yes, I was.”
Aha, this would explain everything! No doubt after Bilhah told me shecouldn’t get ahold of the orphanage, she must have tried calling one more time and they answered. In turn, they must have instructed her to drop off the bread for a certain “Merlin” at a grocery store.
I decided to make sure: “Bilhah, did they tell you anything about a man named Merlin?”
“Oh, really? Do you know anyone named Merlin?”
“Hmm. When you talked to them on the phone, what did you tell them exactly?”
“I told them we had a donation of bread and would drop it off directly at their place later that day.”
Oh, that’s nice.
“And who again was the person who delivered it?”
“Wilson. He’s the only one who knows where the orphanage is. Because…. he knows the lady.”
The next logical question that came to mind was, “Which lady?” But I decided to stop while I was behind.
As I was preparing to leave, a little defeated at my lack of being able to get to the bottom of things and wondering if our bread donation to orphans had instead went to the brother of a mysterious necromancer named Merlin, Bilhah chirped up with more information, “It’s really not an orphanage you know. It’s an organization that takes care of kids…………”
By then I was already tuned out.
The moral of this story is if you want to know how something is being done, particularly a charitable donation, particularly in Haiti, you need to be present for every step of the process. Giving money and walking away expecting for everything to flow how you would logically expect it to is a recipe for disappointment.