Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's only Wednesday

Where to begin? It's only Wednesday. Monday began with the usual hunt for water - both potable in 5 gallon jugs and well water for cleaning and laundry. That job (which can take up to 2 hours) finished, Dieugrand headed to town again to search for text books.  He gave us an extra day of work this week which really helped out. We have been scouring  the book sellers for textbooks to replace those lost in last months floods.  With 30 students (that we know of) out of the 142 we have registered losing everything, an average of 12 text books each, we had made lists, emptied our bank account, and wore out the pavement looking for text books. So much for a budget. And no list is ever finished.
Dieugrand distributes water after a 2 hour hunt
around town - kitchen, gallery and carport.

While Joceline cooked and Lusnot and Auguste looked after the office, Dieugrand returned and covered textbooks while I stamped each  to remind students to return them  in July.
Whatever was behind me on the shelf made me look like
Pinocchio. After a good laugh, the opportunity to translate the story.

Kids continued to drop in, all looking for money and adding books to the list of books needed. We covered as many as possible and left the rest for Sen Rafayel the next day.

Tuesday was an up and back same day trip as Auguste had an appointment with one of our kids late in the day.  He never turns his phone off unless I take it away from him and give him a temporary. Tuesday up and away in good time, but the universe had other ideas. We hadn't made it to Grande Riviere yet (the first of three benchmarks on our trip) when we were stopped by the line of stationary vehicles.

Traffic in both directions held hostage.
Anger on the mountainside in not new.

Some vehicles were allowed to try and cross. We were not because
I'm an 'etranje'. The anger toward me by the youth with the rock in
his hand was palpable. We retreated.

Everyone has an opinion on the problem and
shares it during a crisis.

I was taking pictures of everything and Auguste asked me not too. He offered to take one of the barricade but when he got out of the truck, a fellow hostage strolled over and asked him to hide the camera. He reasoned that those staging the protest might think we were journalists and kill us. The camera went away. After a 2 hour cat and mouse wait while some vehicles were allowed to try and make it to the other side, Auguste moved the truck to the head of the line. The anger toward me from one youth was palpable and to avoid the rock he was holding doing severe damage, we turned and headed away. A few miles down the 'road' we caught side of a PNH vehicle and made yet another u turn, joining the line which followed the police. It took 6 heavily armed officers about half an hour to disband the protesters and clear the barricade.
Heavily armed PNH arrived to quell the protest.

On our way at last we hadn't gone more than a few miles when we spotted a rig drilling for water. Because we hope to be building in the new year, we stopped for information. It was a Canadian company, LifeWater drilling from Alberta. What a great connection!!

LifeWater drilling, operated by
 Abe  from Alberta

On to Sen Rafayel with only one stop to purchase bananas (fig in Kreyol) in Dondon then on to Sen Rafayel. Okay two stops. The new Sen Rafayel bridge, which was destroyed and not replaced for 3 years has already begun to disintegrate. So we now carry 2 heavy boards, stop the truck, place them over the holes. Auguste drives over, I pick up the boards and follow him. We often leave them in place for a bit for other travelers.

Auguste covering holes in order to cross the bridge

Finally at Lakay Jasmine. A full house to help us unload the truck. Then "who want an hour's work?" John-Steevenson, Marc-Arios, Sterlin and Dieuner stepped up. You would have thought we had handed them the moon when we offered an apron to cover clothes. John-Steevenson was the only one with experience so between us we showed the newcomers what to do and why and everything was accomplished by the end of the afternoon with good humour.

John-Steevenson demonstrates how to lay out text books,
measure and cut. Sterlin looks on.

Dieuner and Marc-Arios take in instructions.
Outside on the gallery, a full house for food and conversation after school. Exams have begun so the need to replace lost textbooks and notes is pressing.

One by one the after school club drifts in.

Last month we took in a neighborhood female dog with the permission of her owner to give her a safe place to have her pups. It's almost time for them to go but they have been goodwill ambassadors, helping our young people get over their fear of dogs.

Like spokes on a wheel...The 7 pups are helping our students
conquer fear of dogs.

Edeline our coordinator takes information from the kids on the gallery and together with Auguste makes what we know will not be the last list of textbooks needed.

Auguste and Edeline prepare yet another list of
damaged items in need of replacing.

Driving up and back the same day is tiring but next week we have the luxury of at least 2 nights there and we're going to paint the exterior. Hurray. Coming into Cap-Haitien at supper time is a revelation. There is still no electricity from EDH so it looks like this:

Rue L in Cap-Haitien - no electricity.
That was last night, but I began by saying "It's only Wednesday." This morning I did laundry, Lusnot went to town for textbooks and Auguste ran the drop in center and office - phone calls from students in the Dominican Republic and Port-au-Prince re: budgets (bilan in Kreyol) for the upcoming term.
Laundry 2 or 3 times a week. Dream for the new
center - a washing machine!

About noon, Lusnost arrived back and Philo student Paudeline dropped in. She is writing exams this week but had to talk to Auguste. Her home (tikay) had been broken into Saturday night and she was beaten and raped. One eye was swollen shut. She talked and talked. Auguste set off with her for the police station and hospital. He just arrived back. The police were full and couldn't take any more complaints today. Come back tomorrow.  We will but she is adamant about writing her exam first. Courage has many faces. This is one of them. She now has to wait a month for results re AIDS, other infections and pregnancy.

It takes a great deal of courage to talk about rape, as anyone who has been a victim will tell you.

In a paper entitled "The Link Between Poverty and Violent Conflict", author J. Brian Atwood writes "...poverty more than any other factor contributes to feelings of alienation, exploitation and dependency and these feelings in turn contribute to a break down of social cohesion and to violent conflict."

Violent acts, like those against Paudeline and on the mountain are daily happenings here, along with robbery and kidnapping. It will take more energy and more clout than I have to change the world, but we can stay the course in our corner of the world and change some minds and hearts. Seems like a good use of a life.

And it's only Wednesday. How is your week going?


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