Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day Three

April 23, 2010

So the sun comes up early and the chickens are up even earlier with help later from the goats. That equals getting up at five or five-thirty. But once you open your eyes, at least for me, I am so ready to go. I slept so well. I found out the hard breather was a lizard as were the chirping bird noises too. They were a beautiful chorus to fall asleep to last night.

Once we were all up and showered we had mass – at seven – in the small chapel within the rectory. It was all in Creole but you could tell the different parts of mass. It was beautiful. Fr. LaVoud is an amazing man. You can see in his eyes and in the way he celebrates mass that he is faith driven and not self-driven. There were only three other women in the mass with us and they led the songs. They all had beautiful voices. Strong and beautiful. It seems like their voices embody the Haitian people. For anyone who endures such hardships in life has to be strong and to still have faith and smile every day makes them beautiful.

We ate breakfast. Fruit and bread with jelly or peanut butter or cheese. And I enjoyed their coffee. It was better then American coffee. We discussed our plans for the day over our meal. Today and tomorrow were going to be crazy busy with visiting chapels and schools and the clinic.

The clinic was our first stop it was across the street and down just a little ways. They shut down Friday afternoon as many of the workers live in Les Cayes. So we wanted to get the supplies to them before that. And Fr. LaVoud worries of the day they will ask to be paid more because he can barely pay them now. There are four workers and the two dental students. The four main workers would be similar to an RN a LPN and two lab techs. They give out bandages and simple medications. Anti-acids, anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics, medications for Typhoid and worms and malaria. They don’t have much of anything and people pay only ten goudes a visit and sometimes pay for certain meds. It doesn’t cover costs at all. They work off of batteries and solar power and have a fridge hooked up to a LP tank. They don’t have any good medical or dental tables, chairs, tools – nothing that we would ever see.

They were so grateful for the supplies we did bring for them. And we saw the dental boys working on a man’s mouth. They have a home hooked on that the workers use during the week, M-F and they go back home for the weekends. No major medical problems are taken care of. What is done is usually a band-aid fix. If anything major needs to happen they have to find a ride into the nearest hospital. And that is at least a few hours away. There was a couple there waiting and one of the worker’s son was there. He was maybe two and he had a little kickball. He wanted to follow us all over, inside, outside, through all the rooms. He was adorable. And he loved getting his picture taken. He was more interested in see it so he would walk to you as you were taking it but he loved it. How cute it was to see such excitement over what we take for granted. I am constantly reminded of how we don’t even realize what we have.

We were on our way after that. We walked to the national school, which wasn’t too far. We met the principal, but he wouldn’t let us see a classroom. He didn’t want to disrupt classes, and when thee kids see a white person chaos happens, so I could respect that wish. There are 480 students from ages three or four until they finish and depending on when they started or how well they are learning it may be eighteen to twenty – and that isn’t high school. The principal was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. Anything run by the Haitian government is a little scary to me, but this man seemed in charge and his own person. I did get the feeling he wasn’t really excited to see white people come to the community. I felt that around the school too. The little kids were so happy to see us. They love to gather around and see the circus – I swear that was what we were to them, a sideshow. Many have never seen a white person before. And while the younger kids wanted their picture taken and to talk to us the older kids wanted nothing to do with us. I can understand skepticism. I am sure others have promised to help before and nothing came from it. But they are entitled to their feelings no matter where they come from. I just hope next time they warm up to us a bit.

The truck met us at the school and once we were done spending time with some of the kids we were off again. Two chapels were on our list to hit before lunch. Fr. LaVoud seems worried because we are running behind. But then again, it seems time doesn’t exist in Haiti.

The first chapel we went to was amazing. Not the building, of course, although it was beautiful in its own way. But we walked in and there were children on one side and adults on the other. The kids were all in school uniforms. We learned this chapel runs an elementary school. But as soon as we walked in the kids started singing. They sang a few songs and the Madame who is the head of that chapel and also in charge of the school and teaching talked to us for a while. She is a strong woman. She stated their needs/wants and told us all about the area around the small chapel. We took questions from the adults and the kids sang again. I wonder if the kids had learned anything in the last month or so or just practiced those songs. But the Madame was amazing, making us feel welcome and like royalty. She talked to us and was appreciative of the prayerful support we offered. I wish we could do more right now but we can’t, not with out a lot of funding and backing from the parish.

The second chapel we visited was locked. Fr. LaVoud said they where there earlier but must have had things to do. I felt bad, like we were disappointing the people. We did get to look inside the windows at the school there. It has been shut down, but the building looked to be in good shape.

Back to the rectory for lunch. We had fish and vegetables in sauce with rice and beans. It was so delicious. There was a small boy of a year and a half maybe that came into the rectory. He ran up to Fr. LaVoud and sat on his lap. He stayed there until we all took turns holding him. We thought we heard he was sort of adopted by the priest because his parents were gone. How sad. He is the sweetest boy the cutest mile.

After lunch we were on to three more chapels. All with the same requests. New chapels, new schools. Help in any way. Again we could only promise prayers, I truly hope they understand. They are very appreciative of just prayers, I hope we can get something to someone here.

The first chapel of the afternoon had flowers everywhere. They had a strong female director. I am so impressed with the way these women take charge. Maybe they need to be in charge of the country. They had a few songs for us. A little girl ran up to Fr. LaVoud and sat on his lap. She ended up falling asleep in his arms. How wonderful to see a priest so involved with his people and not constrained by the stereotypes of priests. We were given so much fruit. And coconuts to eat and drink there. The chapel was very small and they needed and wanted so much.

The second chapel was closed and locked. We were going to have mass there Sunday so we would see it then. It also had a school not in use and this one looked ok to me too.

The third chapel was newer and bigger. It seemed newer. They were so worried about me sitting in the sun, I wasn’t burnt, but they didn’t want any of us to burn. Here we heard more requests. A man talked about his bakery crumbling. We saw it, an area that they used for dancing, and then they showed us the school.. It was sad to see so many schools shut down. As we walked through there was a pile of school workbooks. It pains me to see resources wasted and it serves as a warning that what we give them we need to be sure they will use it. There was one book sitting on a table, just like someone was coming back for it. It was sad to see it go unused. After that we walked back to the chapel and on the way a man had his son climb a palm tree – so impressive – barefoot with ho help and throw down coconuts. And then we were given so much fruit again.

I haven’t ever eaten so much coconut jelly and drank the water. I’m not really a fan but they offer and you cannot refuse. It was encouraging to see how grateful everyone was for us and how much people offered us – so many fruits. It was sad to hear how long they had been waiting for us to come, since December. We shouldn’t give them dates until we know for sure. But they all were so glad to have us now.

Throughout the travels of the day I saw views beyond belief. Post card worthy. The Haitians are sitting in paradise. For what they lack in things, they have in excess of beautiful land. The mountains are amazing to look at, we don’t get to see that much in Indiana. The palm trees are gorgeous. I did feel so bad for the animals. Most were tied up to trees or rocks and they were all so terrified of the truck. And then there were the dogs. All stray. But many had fur missing and parts swollen, it was so sad. The rides in the truck were so much fun. We were making turns at mountain’s edge with 500 to 800-foot drops. Crossing paths with edges on either side, bumpy roads of big rocks. It was fun and scary, but I never felt completely in danger. John started saying “OH MY!” and giving Domo directions to make himself feel safer. It turned into a joke after a while and Domo loved it too.

We made it back in time for dinner, goat, and these things that looked and tasted like thin crescent rolls with meat (I think) in them in circle shape, there was yams and even fries! And there was the spicy cabbage again! I love that stuff. This one had some lime juice in it too. I am beginning to seriously LOVE the food here.

After dinner we all went out front and played with the kids. We taught them a couple songs like ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and they taught us a few too. They were teaching us words and learning our words. We were counting and some even knew some Spanish! These are smart kids. I did wonder if they ever go to school though as they were around the rectory ALL the time. The guys were teaching them tricks and the hand slap game. A few of them know “I love you, baby!” HA! They are so funny. Some even tried to trick Brian and I into saying bad things, but we caught on. One of the guys kept laughing at my name. No one could say it right and I am wondering if it means something bad. I guess I will find out later as it is getting late. I am so glad I took a lot of pictures and recorded things. I don’t want to forget any of this. We were also told Lucas, who was there last night again, was living with his dad and that his mom was in New York or Miami or Washington DC. That just means she is in the US because those are the only cities they know – unless you talk about basketball. They love American basketball. I have no idea how or where they see it but they knew a lot of teams and players. I was sad for Lucas but glad he still had his dad. I would take him home in a heartbeat.

Oh, we got to use a computer tonight! The Internet works when the generator is running so I e-mailed home. Just a quick one. It reminded me of everyone back home, not that I forgot, but you do get wrapped up in everything here.

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