Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kanaval, Mariline, Clenie

It's that time of year  - Kanaval will wind up to-night  (Madigras - Fat Tuesday) with bands, a parade and clogged intersections. Mekredisann (Ash Wednesday) the madness becomes invisible once again. The mayor of Cap-Haitien is spending 3 million gourds ($75,000.USD) for bands, temporary stages and from what I have seen, a few t-shirt give-a-ways with his name emblazoned. What should be a one-day affair began here in January. Every Sunday, costumes are donned and traffic is halted until each vehicle pays for the privilege of continuing. Every major artery has its Kanaval bandits. Each group is spontaneous and may stop one vehicle several times depending on your travel plans.

A Kanaval reveller holds us up for money -
Dozens more surrounded the truck
Whips, machetes and guns are part of the scenario as are bodies slathered in dirty motor oil chasing folks through the streets, threatening to hug.  Crowds follow the excitement wherever it happens - in town or on the mountainside.

Revellers on the road at Milot cut-off - once they saw a 'blan' in the vehicle, we were surrounded
This hair-covered face demanded money while dozens surrounded
the truck. We could not advance or retreat. Again we paid.

The trip to and from Sen Rafayel took longer and cost more due to frequent stoppages, always accompanied by a demand for money to purchase Kleren (raw rum).  I would give with a happy heart if funds were going towards a program or charity, rather than adding to the drunkeness of the event.

Lakay Jasmine was busy when we arrived. I still marvel at the reality that we have a home base. Conversation and reading were evident on the galri, while Mariline and Clenie worked on a project inside.We had come to meet with the staff, distribute backpacks and hygiene products and make 2 home visits. Backpacks are distributed twice a year - September and again February for those who began with the Fondasyon in Jan/Feb/Mar of the previous year. Thank you Daniel and team for the great backpacks. It's an opportunity to catch up with several young people on the same day (21) find out how first term went, and take new pictures  to update website.
Sen Rafayel galri-a -- reading
Danius, Wendy, Tchawens, Guerlande
                                                                 Reading -Kesner, Damylee    (seated behind)

Mariline is recovering from the burns she sustained on both legs, which I reported in the last blog.  She reports no residual pain, just weakness.

Mariline F. - a smile and healing
Blisters gone, skin drying, healing
It was reassuring to see her with a smile. Thanks to those who asked about her - I appreciate being reminded that I sometimes begin a story in a blog and neglect to finish it. Clenie, however was not smiling so I took a few minutes with her. Her dad left the country 2 years ago to look for work and hasn't been heard from since - not uncommon. Mom has no work and no education, Clenie has 4 brothers and 2 sisters. She talked of being hungry all the time with the detachment that comes from having no emotional energy left. So we're making her a priority and putting out a call for Starthrower's in Action to help us provide more of what she needs to succeed.

Clenie L. Sept. 2010
Clenie - Feb. 2012
Staff meeting over, backpacks distributed, new pictures on board, tire changed - I forgot to mention that we arrived with a flat tire (kawatchou anpann), we headed out for home visits to Anne-Mercie and Lucia. More on those visits later.

In Cap-Haitien, the library is a big hit! Although modest in scale, I am pleased to report that half of our collection is on loan. Reading has become contagious - and I hope everyone catches it! Auguste is in Sen Rafayel this week working with the staff and Lusnot and Myriame are holding down the fort here.

Brunie stopped by for a picture in hospital uniform.

Brunie - a true professional

So I'll leave you with her smiling face.

Pase  yon bon semen  (Have a good week)

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