We have now been in Haiti for almost two weeks and are continuing to adjust
to our new surroundings.  Pastor Francois left last week for two weeks in
the States, which provided us with the opportunity to assume a little more
responsibility in his absence.  We are truly grateful that he has enough
trust in us and, most importantly, in those who work in the orphanage and
ministry, to leave and be confident all will run smoothly.  One thing that
he has spoken with us about several times in the short period we have been
in Pignon is his effort to raise up a younger generation of leaders,
trained to keep the orphanage, school, sewing center and church operating
after he and Madam have died.  I greatly admire this type of leadership,
one that acknowledges the limited time one has in a certain role and seeks
out younger individuals to build into the future leaders, something that
Haiti desperately needs.

 

While he is away, we have been responsible for taking two of the kids to
their high school a couple of miles away from the orphanage.  This has
provided us with the opportunity to experience the adventure that is
driving in Haiti!  Within Pignon, there are quite a few paved roads but
once you leave the small town you are driving, no, 4-wheeling, on some
bumpy dirt roads.  This is only part of the adventure, as you must
constantly be aware of your surroundings less you hit some animal (donkeys,
cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs to name a few) or side swipe a motorcycle
passing you on the wrong side into oncoming traffic.  The condition of the
roads in Haiti is nothing less than shocking.  It is stunning how lacking
the infrastructure is in the country and how the main road linking Pignon
to Cap Haiten, a highway in reality, is like the worst country or mountain
road you have ever driven on multiplied by some unknown factor, with a
river to ford and bandits to avoid at night.  Nevertheless, driving has
given us a sense of freedom and has allowed us to get out of the orphanage
and explore a little bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the several occasions we have walked outside the orphanage it has been
to walk our friend Danielle back to the American-run orphanage or visit
Pido, a member of Pastor’s church, who has a little corner shop where we
buy our Internet minutes!  Those walks have been enlightening and also a
source of entertainment.  One of our walks proved to be quite entertaining
thanks to a run in with one of the town’s crazy men. The gentlemen
approached us and danced around us.  However, the real show was on our
return.  As we walked back we noticed a large group of children gathered in
the road and this man in the middle of the group.  As the group of children
parted, screaming as they ran away, I could see that the guy had his pants
around his ankles and was flashing/running towards the kids completely
exposed.  We weren’t really sure what to do or how to get past the large
group of kids without being spotted.  I thought that he would definitely
run after us since we’re *blan *but a distraction provided itself as he
decided to block the road and jump on to the front of an oncoming car.  A
standoff between the car and this naked crazy man ensued as the he refused
to get out of the way of the car.  We quickly hurried past and returned
home.  While it was an entertaining sight it was also disturbing because
you quickly realize that the reason mentally disabled and disturbed
individuals are on the street is because there are no options for them to
receive treatment.  No mental health services exist.

 

As soon as we are outside of the Orphanage compound, we stick out as the
foreigners we obviously are.  People in the street generally take notice
and some of the young guys and children enjoy pointing and yelling, “*Blan*
!”  The creole word, a shortened form of the French “*blanc*,” literally
means “white” but also has a broader meaning of “foreigner.”  Thus, Sigi
and I are both “*blan*.”  From what I have read the term carries a slightly
negative connotation, but I don’t believe it has been directed at us in a
negative way yet.  I guess the best way to define its meaning comes from a
book I just finished called *The Big Truck That Went By*.  The author’s
girlfriend, who was doing research in Haiti, put it thus:
“Being white in Haiti speaks certain things much louder than my voice.  It
speaks of disposable income, a life without hunger, the possibility of
leaving that place.”

 

In reality, this is truly what “*blan*” means.  We do have disposable
income, we do live a life without hunger and we are able to leave Haiti
whenever we want.  These three things are hard to come by, if not
impossible, for the vast majority of Haitians.  Thus, when someone asks me,
“Hey *Blan*, give me a dollar!” they are not entirely wrong in thinking
that I am more than capable of doing just that without it being an issue.
On another note, we continue to enjoy our time with the children, playing
with them and getting to know them on an individual basis.  WE cannot
express how thankful we are for Pastor Francois and Madam.  They have made
our transition here very easy and comfortable thanks to their generous
hospitality.  Keep them in your thoughts and prayers!

 

Until next time,
Carl