February 7, 2011

New Entrance for the Guest House

This reflection was written by Steve M last Friday after a day's work

"Today we had our first vehicles drive up our new road into the back of the Guest House compound. It is at about the stage that we would call a sub-grade if we were building a forest road at home. Not much gravel on it yet, it still is not smooth and there are still some cobbles and roots sticking up. However, after driving to the Children's Home today, we realized it is smoother and wider than many of the roads in this area. The staff here are happy to have the additional access and it will provide safer access in the event of future problems. The existing access would best be called an alley at home. It's just wide enough for a car to drive down. There are car bodies, rubble, scrap piles of steel, welding 'shops' and all kinds of things, not to mention its rough, bumpy and dead ends at the Guest House, with no other way out. The new access opens onto a main wide road. When Tom, the manager here told some of the team members we were going to turn the area into a road and they just couldn't see how. Now after less than one week, it looks more like a road than anything else. Well, OK, maybe it looks more like a really wide trail. Think of building a logging road at home through a grove of trees with no bull dozers, no excavators, not even horses, just 25 men and two women with 3 picks, 5 shovels, 6 machetes, one ax, one hundred feet cheap rope and one pulley."

Genie's reflection from Sunday

On our way to Furcy to visit the site of a medical clinic in the mountains behind Petion-ville today. No one could find words for the blog yesterday after our tour of downtown Port of Prince. There are neither words nor pictures that can capture the devestation. It must have felt like the end of the world. Still, on the streets in front of the collapsed buildings, and the endless tent camps, life goes on. Vendors lay out produce, trinkets, and tools for sale. The streets are clear of debris now and a long line of Honey buckets borders the tents. Colorful taptaps zigzag through the busy streets. We see progress, painful and slow but there is progress here.

I am searching for words to descibe the smell of Haiti because this is what the pictures cannot convey. Imagine concrete dust and garbage, fresh baked bread and gas fumes, bougainvilla, spice cake and coffee, concrete dust and urine........

And the pictures are silent.

But here in Petion-ville and Port o Prince, it is never silent. I sleep on the balcony to avoid bothering my team mates with my restlessness but I swear the guard dogs hear every wiggle and begin a ferocious barking to scare me still. It's not really me, of course, it's the endless traffic, horn honking and circling bats. Then, as the roosters begin crowing, the dogs whine pitifully as they are put away for the day and the happy chatter begins. Haitian creole, French, English, all mixed in an endless conversation. At six, street noise picks up - and music! There are always musicians - joyful amidst the horns and traffic.

For Mrs. Rueger's Kindergarten class (and my sweet little boy who I miss terribly)

Hello kindies.  I just wanted to send you a little message about a place we went to in Haiti.  One of our translators lives in Duplan and went to this school that is in the picture below.  A translator is someone who is able to change one language into another.  For instance, if someone spoke to you in French he could tell you in English what they said.  His name is Lemaire, and he speaks Haitian Creole, French, English and Spanish.
Mrs. Rueger meets you at the flagpole before school, but these students sit on the benches outside their classrooms.
This is the kindergarten room.  The sign says welcome to the butterfly classroom (loosely translated).  Papillons=Butterfly in french.  I learned that because our translator says i am like a papillon that will never land...always moving around.  In Haiti the kids speak Creole and French.

In their classroom they have a board just like Mrs. Rueger's with the names of all the students.
They also have a list of class rules that includes listening when someone is speaking.  Pretty basic.  Just like Mrs. Rueger expects of you guys.
This is a poster they have that helps the students learn their colors.
And a table of vowels.  a e i o u.

I just wanted you to know that even though you are miles away from Haiti, you really have so many similarities to the kids here.  And even though some learn their lessons in French and some in English...we all have to learn the same lessons no matter where we live. 

February 5, 2011

haiti day five - hearts

from a gift for one of the staff members, a new business was formed.  one little boy making a bracelet for her, turned into 20 boys supporting their families.  she said...americans would buy these.  so he made some more bracelets out of wires he found on the street, and brought some friends back to the guest house with their own bracelets.  now, every saturday at noon a line of boys and their parents line up in the yard and collect the money they have earned for their bracelets.  and to let the staff know of any special needs they may be having.  some need sandles.  one has a brother with typhoid.  sometimes tuition.  we were talking about how they work so hard knowing all the money will go to their families.  for some it is all the money their family earns in a week.  only one boy had no money in his bag.  it crushed my heart into a million pieces.  truly.  but i promise he won't go home empty next week.

with the hearts for haiti money collected by my friends and family, we purchased 50 lbs. of rice and 50 lbs. of beans.  we filled 100 hearts and 100 baggies.  when the boys and their families showed up today, they left with our rice and bean filled hearts, health supply kits, school supply kits, and their bracelet money.  we left enough rice and beans to feed those families for the next three weeks.  and three boys with especially high needs left with $33 each of hearts money.  and then we all played soccer.

we will be on the lookout for more helpful ways to use the remainder of the funds.  but i just want to personally thank each of my team members for helping me stuff, sew and hand out the hearts that all of those at home put so much love into.  i really appreciate all of the support both here and at home.  please understand that not only did we feed about 25 families, we fed them for four weeks.  it was hugely appreciated and totally unexpected for them today.  it was a really big deal.  and i am so thankful to have been a part of that. 

haiti day four - pictures

February 4, 2011

Wendy's Reflection

I am thinking about a young man I worked with yesterday, Ricardo.  He was our interpreter and worked beside me chiseling and hammering at a wall, removing stucco and other material from the walls at the parsonage.  He made twice as much progress as I did.  But he took breaks along with me and we got to chat.  His familiy's home was damaged in the earthquake and they currently live in a tent.  He does not know when they will be able to repair and rebuild the home.  His parents lost their jobs twelve years ago and he is the sole working member of his family.  He supports his parent and four siblings on very little work.  For fun, he likes to get in the internet or read his Bible. I shared a snack bar with him, he joined us for lunch and our afternoon journey to the children's home.  His face lit up playing with the kids.  After supper, he said it would take him about an hour to get home on a tap tap. 

What lives with me about Ricardo is the time he spent with me after lunch.  I gave him a greeting and a prayer I want to be able to say in Creole at church on Sunday morning at the beginning of my sermon.  He said "I am at your service."  He wrote out the Creole for me, helped me with the  pronounciation, laughed at my mistakes and kept encouraging me when I would say, "I can't get this."  Ricardo has so much to offer, he is a patient and gentle spirit.  He will stay in prayers.

February 3, 2011

haiti day three - life

there is life everywhere in haiti.  even in the most unexpected places.  we were all anticipating an announcement about the presidential elections last night.  so when the city erupted in cheers this morning, we knew something had changed.  it was like a breath of fresh air.  and the quiet anticipation and tension dissipated.

a haitian crew joined our driveway project and we experienced a different part of haitian life.  some of our group learned to navigate the streets and the market in search of specific parts and supplies.  it was one of the best parts of their day.  pastor fed had others working at frere manse again.  i chatted with madame violet, his wife, about the growing life in her garden.  and how in haiti we use sod not seed to grow.

we had two amazing interpreters.  lemaire and ricardo. their lives in haiti depend greatly on the groups that travel in and out of the guest house.  but they have life beyond these gates.  brothers, sisters, parents.  tents.  houses.  students.  each fluent in kreyol, french and english and working on their spanish.

after lunch, a greater view of the streets and how the city is living outside itself in a way. amazing that buildings stand in ruin, but in the cracks are tents and their inhabitants.  carrying on with life the best they can.  a flower growing towards the sun.

we spent the afternoon in the home of 38 children.  there was singing, crafting and playing.  so much fun.  it's hard to be in haiti and not feel despair.  but even in the worst of situations there is life.  we saw so much of it today.