April 20-30, 2006 Cap-Haitien
all April we have had hydro for a total of three hours and 45 minutes. Our camera has died a peaceful death. We have tried 3 new batteries -- each one takes 2 pictures then shuts down. I guess we go digital. Unfortunately will not have pictures of our Remembrance Service tomorrow. Perhaps it will be more effective without the presence of a camera.
Cindy in Penn. is mailing the carpenter plane for Djohn. Two if the three boxes she sent arrived and we tracked them down. Our taxi bill is outrageous but we have some shoes, vitamins, Tshirts and tinned food items. It is amazing to watch how the staff become energized when boxes arrive. They take it as a sign that someone cares about Haiti.
School has resumed after Easter Break (Konje Pak) so we are swamped with new 'Starfish' looking for support. At the beginning of the term anyone who has not paid all fees is put out (Yo mete li deyo). They are trying to salvage their year but we nave no money. We have added 28 to the waiting list. If possible, we will take them on in September after our current crop is settled and paid for.
Report cards are being distributed this week and we are seeing positive results from the tutoring that has been ongoing. Of course the young people are feeling better about themselves and Abel is feeling encouraged about his work.
I found an Internet cafe by chance when making a home visit to one of our kids. Abel and I are going to visit as many kids as possible and take photos. We have many without water and toilets, and need numbers in order to further assist. We have so many problems that I need to see for myself. In addition to no food or water or toilets, rats and mosquitoes are problematic.
Bos Plombye (plumber) came Monday and installed a new drain valve on our reservoir, leaving a masonry hole the size of an 18 wheeler, so Bos Mason arrived yesterday to repair both the hole and a leak which ran the circumference of the reservoir. Once the cement dries, we need a good rain to fill the tank and we are ready to wash.
Monday is the Fet de Travay (celebration of work/Labour Day) so only Abel and Degrand will work -- their choice -- and we will make home visits to those who live in Fo sen Michel (Fort Saint Michael).
Thursday we travelled to BelAir with Rose Claudelle (26/01/90 - grade 8AF, second year high school) to see her home. It's 2 rooms, about 5ft.x5ft each. There's a single bed in each room, an outdoor cooking area, an outdoor toilet that cannot be used as it is full. Water must be purchased for 2 gourdes a pail. There are 18 people living in the house, will be 19 when her sister Noseline returns from Port-au-Prince. She is also one of ours but became very ill in October and was taken in by an aunt.
Because of the rat problem, we are buying screening (til) in large quantities and trying to cover window openings. As the walls on the huts are often curved, it is impossible to make a frame. We found a carpenter who will make a small fence (barye) and cover it with til for the front door opening. We are trying this at Dieugrand's house. If it deters the rats we will have more made.
Julia fell on Saturday and landed on a nail which embedded itself in her derriere. The nail is apparently about 3 inches long. Her brother Jack arrived at work on Monday telling me she could not sleep well and had a fever. I sent Abel and Jack on bicycles to his house with money for a taxi and the clinic. It's the only option as she is unable to walk. She is on antibiotics but the nail has not been removed as the clinic does not have a doctor.
[a few days later] Julia's wound swelled (li te enfle) and burst (pete), expelling the nail and she is beginning to heal.
I have often wondered about the psychological dimension of the poverty these young people are experiencing. In the last month 3 of them have come to me thinking there was something wrong because they couldn't stop crying. One said, "I have a problem. I'm remembering my mother and I just cry because she left me. What will happen if you leave too?"
The grief is profound and so deep. I am grateful that it is being expressed. There are no answers and no assurances. We can only be present and listen.
Abel, Carmene and I are putting our heads together to create a 'reflection service' for our kids who have had parents and/or siblings die. The grief is so deep in most of them (and unexpressed) that I thought the time was right. We are planning on Sunday May 7th at 2 p.m.
I leave you with Martin Luther King: 'I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have 3 meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred people have torn down, other centred people will build up.'
May the world d be filled with audacious people.