3 a.m. and finally there is some calm. Gunfire has ceased - outside my window the occasional mango drops, somewhere a dog barks, roosters crow, a child cries.
When I left Canada Nov. 15th I fully expected to be home in Cap-Haitien the next day. When manifestasyon yo (protests) closed the airport for 5 days, precipitating a minor personal financial crisis in Provo, the universe put Lesline of Air Turks and Caicos and Cathy and Ian, Inglewood, On. in my life. Thank you - your compassion, humour, generosity and friendship are treasures I will store.
Once here the reality of life - a Monday trip to the bank meant a wait of 2 1/2 hours in line. At one point I counted 184 people in front of me, just to pass the time. I forgot to bring my book. Money transfer sent to Léogâne, currency exchanged, on to try to find supplies for the centre here and for the office in Sen Rafayel. Everything from note books to propane is scarce. Prices reflect the limited supply.
Our refrigerator died , twice, was revived by 2 different technicians. The water chateau on the roof started to leak - a 500 gallon leak. The brakes went on the truck and it took us 2 days to find new parts. Our propane tank (cooking) came up empty. The inverter proved to be a hungry beast. Initially operating on 4 batteries (albeit ineffectively) we purchased 6 only to be told by Danius that we needed 8 to operate the house. Our precious bank acct. dropped perilously low but the house can function now without EDH (Haiti's hydro company). The handle on the faucet outside broke off, no replacement to be found.
Wednesday, Dec. 1st, we travelled to Sen Rafayel to deliver potable water, the dry serum ingredients to fight cholera, staff pay envelopes, Kesner's sewing machine (picture below) and to make home visits long overdue.
We witnessed 7 funerals in the 4 hour visit. The boss who made the coffin for Consienne's father in September has died of Cholera, so his apprentices are now in business for themselves. Our landlord's wife and children have died. A dozen students have left bills for medical services rendered, each one exorbitant. The Red Cross (Kwa Wouj) is sending text messages to all phone holders, directing those with cholera symptoms to go to the nearest treatment centre. For those in Sen Rafayel the nearest centre is 3 hours down the mountain over what passes for a road but is really a mountain track too narrow in places for vehicles. What should be a compassionate, humanitarian response has become big business in our little village.
More unpleasant surprises - College Vincent Oge (one of the village's oldest schools) and College Roi Henri Christophe (one of the newest) have closed. Declining enrollment (declining numbers of those able to pay) means teachers do not get paid. The directors of the schools used our first trimester payments for teacher's salaries so there is no remittance coming. We now have to find schools willing and able to take on Fabiola, Mary-Rose, Severe, Thony, Illiomene, Benouse, Evaldine and Mika. I say 'able' as 5 are in the pilot program 'nouvo secondaire' the government started and very few schools were selected to participate. This also means we pay again for the first trimester in order for our students to have the opportunity to write Christmas exams.
Main room. Bed for her mother. Fabiola and her sisters sleep on the floor.