Haiti on my Mind
Countdown to Christmas
"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Our newest little one, Alexia, LOVES Christmas songs - especially the ones sung with more of an operatic voice style (O! Holy Night - Silent Night - Joy to the World...) This discovery translates into me singing more Christmas carols than I ever remember. It also means that Jesus is remaining more in the center of my thoughts throughout my days. I like that! I like that it's a season known for joy and that no matter the circumstances I know that I have great joy in my life because Christ was born!
Any engineers out there that would like to help create a solution for us? Our main campus is located at the bottom of a mountain. When it rains, the soil from the mountain and the trash that has been left in piles all come down to us. Waters that used to go into the city drainage has been diverted to the canal in front of our main campus. Each time it rains the soil and trash are left in the canal - eventually eliminating the canal altogether. This results in flooding in the neighborhood and is very difficult on our neighbors.
We have been working for weeks to remove the debris from the canal. Some by backhoe and dump truck and the rest by hand. This is costly and sadly temporary. We are looking to our MOHI friends and asking that you would help us to find a solution. If you or someone you know can help, please reach out to us by email. Thank you.
Haiti Market Days
Having grown up in the United States, Haiti Market Day was a totally new experience for me - and yes, quite the culture shock.
Did you know that the big markets are actually organized? They are. Normally bananas, fruits, fresh leafy vegetables, root vegetables, charcoal, grains, household items, meats (beef, goat, pork), chicken, fish, used clothing, etc. each have their own section in the sea of people.
Each town has their own market days. In Grand-Goave it's Wednesday and Saturday. The other days there are some items still available, but it's usually priced higher and not as good quality. In the capital city, however, every day is Market Day!
On Market Day in Grand-Goave, the farmers' wives from all the surrounding mountains load their donkeys, mules, and horses with their fresh grown produce and make their trek down the treacherous mountain paths. Some walk 4 - 8 hours, leaving home in the middle of the night to make the trip in the dark!
Many who live in the small city area go to Port-au-Prince to purchase household items to sell on Market Day. Others go to the shipping docks in Mirogoane (about 45 -60 minutes south) to purchase boxes of used items - clothing, irons, blenders, pots, and pans - to sell on Market Day.
Some merchants will set up tables and erect a covering to protect them from the sun as they spend the entire day there. Others pile their wares into big wash basins (called Kivet) and walk around the market shouting (more like singing actually) out what they are selling. If it's medicine they even list out reasons the medicine should be used. (Definitely NOT the best way to buy prescription medicines!)
Doing the family shopping on Market Day is no little feat. There are no grocery carts, so you have to carry whatever you buy. There are no grocery carts, but there are wheelbarrows and strong people willing to help you - for a price, of course. In the last decade, motorcycles have appeared in abundance and are also used for transporting goods, as well as people, for a reasonable price.
Can you imagine waking at 2 in the morning, loading your beast of burden (or your own head, depending on your means), walking them down the mountain trails in the dark, setting up your little selling area, and spending the entire day in the hot sun bickering over prices? And at the end of the day you realize you have left over produce that you need to pack up and carry all the way back up the mountain again? Needless to say, the best deals are made late in the day. However, it's not unusual to not even be able to find what you need if it's in high demand.
While I've been here in Massachusetts, I have had the convenience of running to the grocery store and WalMart -- and even sitting at my computer to order things online. I will say, however, I miss the fresh produce of Haiti - and the whole red snapper and conch!!!
While school has still not re-opened, we do have two high school classes that have been busy at work, preparing for national exams. Several faculty members have taken it upon themselves to put in the effort to get them ready. We anticipate the entire school body to return to their classrooms after the holidays.
Heading Back to Haiti
Pastor Lex and I are looking forward to returning to Haiti soon and hope to spend the first several months of 2020 there. I look forward to reconnecting with the women in the church and our staff. I look forward to having playful moments with little ones, reading to the younger students, and discussing life experiences with the older students. I look forward to seeing the smiles, the animation, palm trees, banana plants, mountains, and ocean.
Now that we are grandparents, we are even more grateful for computers, phones, and the internet. Marco Polo, Facebook, and Whatsapp are our friends! We may not be present to see Alexia sitting up on her own next month, but we will see it online! And I will read books and sing with her and Alante over Facebook Messenger, as our staff watch from the doorway with glee and amazement. Hopefully, they will do more than just laugh. Maybe they'll go home and read books and sing songs with their children and grandchildren, too! (Perhaps I need to translate the Itsy Bitsy Spider into Kreyol???)