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Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Glimpse in Haiti - Part 5

As usual, the day (day 4) began early. Joan saw a cockroach in our bathroom and a lizard on the wall. I slept well, probably due to utter fatigue. It was dark when we begin breakfast, which was a very spicy spaghetti. I think it had some meat in it, but Tessa didn't complain, as she's not a complainer at all. Like me, Rhonda has been bitten by some insect. And horribly, we ran out of Coffeemate, and had to borrow some skim milk powder for one of our Dallas friends.

This morning, instead of going to the jobsite, we walked down to the river, guided by a young Haitian woman whose name is Teeteet. She showed us where to pickax and apparently our job today is to pile sandy gravel.The garbage here is incredible, worst than in Bolivia.   
It was hard work, and we were little disorganized at first. I tossed a rock from the pile to another pile and I hit Joan's leg. Then someone hit me. We eventually found a rhythm. Then one of those motorcycles turned into a small pickup showed up with some water. In this dry riverbed, we have a good view of both the ocean and the mountains, and at the mouth of the river.

Shortly after, we walked toward the beach. The beat-up truck came and we loaded sand from another pile to be taken to yet another jobsite. It's starting to look like we won't get back today to where we were working before, and I'm a little disappointed at that.

The second time the truck came back, I went with it, and saw some finished rubble homes. A man named Pastor did the driving and we met his grandfather, as well as passed Grand Goave's town hall. As we drove down Rue Constitution, we saw the group coming back. We picked up Sharon and Rhonda, while Jackie and Joan and I walked with Junior, all the while snapping a few pics.

Lunch was rice with bean paste, and the fish brought yesterday in an onion and butter sauce. It was very tasty. I wish we had more food, but we still have tortillas and peanut butter and cold pop. After, everyone scattered for naps while I was off to put my feet up.

After we returned to the riverbed. We loaded up the truck, which I've discovered is a quarter ton Mitsubishi 4 x 4, with a couple of loads of sand. Naturally, children gravitated toward us. Two little girls in just underwear and one little naked boy played nearby. For their dignity's sake, I didn't take a close up picture.
They said that they were hungry and wanted me to look in the knapsacks for food. I felt bad because I had nothing to give them. We're all bothered by the children we see. The very skinny and some their bellies and belly buttons stick way out. They say all the time that they're thirsty. At the end when we were leaving, Junior told me to dump out the water and one boy drank some before I did. 
A short distance away, there was a single tomato plant growing in the middle of the riverbed, and it had some green fruit on it. An odd bit of life in the middle of stones. On the way to the next rubble home, we saw a crazy guy dressed in heavy black clothes, screaming at everyone. We passed Seeds of Hope, a Canadian mission, and they'd even brought in an ambulance from the Peterborough EMS.

Jackie was kind enough to purchase two small cans of evaporated milk for one American dollar. I think that's expensive and I am sure they don't charge that to the locals. We only did two runs of sand this afternoon before returning to the compound. It gets incredibly hot, and our shirts are soaked and even stained with salt, so we all piled into that motorcycle-come-pickup for the drive home.

Tessa and Amanda are having cornrows done, and with Sharon's phone, I texted my kids. Right then Faucher brought me, Sharon, Jackie and Joan into the kitchen. He showed us supper, which is vegetable rice. The veggies are beets, carrots, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, and cans of peas. Bob has a cold, and Faucher suggested taking some watercress and garlic chopping it up fine and adding a bit of vinegar and taking it in the morning. Last night he gave Bob hibiscus flower tea for his cold, and he actually sounds better today. With the dappled sunshine and the gravel and picnic tables and the smell of charcoal cooking.It's like we're camping.

A very skinny cat has come for a visit. I put my feet up on the bench and he crawled over and lay on me until he heard some birds and decided to investigate. The rest of our crew is playing a new card game called Phase 10. They're all talking about the women that we saw bathing in the water where the river met the ocean, and of course the men swear they didn't see anything inappropriate. Of course, they didn't. 
I spoke to one of the Haitians named Alex on the phone. He said he was in Port-au-Prince, getting the mesh wire wouldn't be back until tomorrow. I realized then we would probably not be going back to our house that we're building again.

It's after supper now. Sharon felt that I took too much rice. I was very hungry, and there are never any leftovers. We all need a little extra in the way of peanut butter tortillas and crackers. Thankfully, Sharon brought out some smoked cheese and cookies. All of my Nutribars have disappeared, so I'm not the only one who's hungry. I had put them out by the kitchen, and I think some people needed the extra calories, too. This is certainly a test for me. I'm a big eater used to as much food as I want. Now I must force myself to eat less. Rhonda also needs to snack periodically. Jackie went to the small store across the street, but she said there wasn't anything in the way of cookies there. This island has good fruit and vegetables, but no place to grow grains, so there's little flour and very little bread.

But to complain about our meals makes me feel guilty. Those children don't have very much to eat, but we're told not to feed them. So I feel a tension back and forth within me. I can't help these poor children, and oddly, the young boy we saw today had a bag of raspberry candy. Someone had the money to buy that for him and yet, he looked like he was starving.

There are so many relief organizations here, each specializing in something, but does this aid the expectation of handouts? Our driver today said this a drug problem here, and they all need hope. I brought this up at our devotional.  Junior said that when the children say they're hungry, they're only practicing their English and Jackie said that they're just saying words. Ricardo said in Mexico, children are taught to beg. Sharon hugged me and apologized for what she'd said. It's disconcerting to sort out all my feelings about the poor. I've asked God to make me more compassionate, and now it hurts.

We could smell marijuana tonight. Some people disagreed on it was, as it wasn't strong, but it sure smelled like that to me.

Some of us are frustrated by what appears to be the lack of progress in our house because Alex is having trouble getting the wire in Port-au-Prince. Joan reminded us that on Saturday, she asked who brought our house's rubble and sand to our worksite, so it must've been a previous group delivering it when they couldn't work on their house. Our pastor had reminded us before we left that the work is ongoing and we're just going to be part of the process.

Many of us are tired tonight, although Bob and Tessa went for smoothies with the Dallas group, and I wonder if they're still hungry after supper. The young boy, Chris, said he was missing his family and friends back home. Some of our group are playing Phase 10, but I'm going to bed.

If we ever come back here, I'm going to bring more dessert-like foods, more Coffeemate, and my Samsung tablet, though I don't miss the Internet, but I'd love to connect with my kids.

I did another devotional but it's hard to see because of the energy efficient lights, which wink off often, so it's off to sleep now. It's been a hard day.

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