I went up to hang out with the children Saturday morning but they were eating breakfast – for them it’s more like the first meal of the day—another meal later if there’s money for food.
The little gasons, Gerald and Pugy, came running over but were called back to finish their meal. But I had a chance to see what they were eating, it was a single piece of plain thick bread in one hand, a cup of something in the other.
I am amazed the children have the energy they do, eating so little.
Later I walked to the Saturday village market with Edianna, Felicenne and Emil, all teenagers. I enjoy the market a lot—the noise, the color, the chaotic bustle. We dodge the vendors still arriving from the outlaying hills— on burros, motorcycles, bicycles and foot, all piled high with wares in buckets, baskets or merely stacked high on their heads.
We four stay close together as we squeeze through the hundreds of venders who claim squatting space in loosely organized-by-categories areas for vegetables, fruits, used clothes and shoes, grains, toiletries, ropes, everything! Others set up small charcoal burners offering meats of all kinds: pig, goat, chicken and be’f. The spicy cooking smell and smoke fill the air. Pastor doesn’t let us eat pig or be’f as he sees them as garbage eaters and thus unhealthy. We aren’t there to buy meat which would make me real nervous anyway. Unidentifiable animals parts are piled in bowls, all covered with a thick blanket of flies.
We go to the market for fresh vegetables for meals (used primarily in gravies), and some Gramma treats for the timoun.
This time I have the thought to buy a bunch of bananas for the children. I make sure the branch has 40+, enough for each of the timoun. Edianna carries it back for me.
Emil and Felicianne carry the onions, carrots, beets, tomatoes, a few oranges, and the only 2 pineapples we could find. All of this costs around 1000goudes or $25 US dollars. (In a later post I will describe the crazy high costs for all the other foods, not grown here, that have to be shipped to Haiti.) And of course, a couple big bags of candies and cookies I will dole out during the week—cheap from India!?
We got back around noon and Pastor said the timoun had eaten one meal, and food was already being cooked for another one, so we would wait on the bananas.
Three days went by and I was called up to the Children’s Home in the afternoon. When I got there, a couple children were peeking out the front door and got excited to see me—they yelled, “Gramma isit!” (here) “Gramma isit!” and disappeared inside.
When I entered, they all in unison chanted, “Mesi’ Gramma.” I saw the table was decorated with flowers, and 20 of the younger children were crowded on benches around it. They were squeezed in tight, looking at me expectantly. In front of each child was a dented tin plate filled with a dark bean gravy in which floated big chunks of banana.
The red bean scent overpowered any banana smell. Madam Nicole started to say grace and the children loudly joined in. At “Amen,” they dug into their meal. There were smiles and nods in my direction where I sat at the table corner.
It was a pleasure watching their pleasure (although honestly, it did not in the least look appetizing to me), but as I watched them I started feeling sad.
They ate quickly and spooned up every drop. When each child finished they hurried over to me, said “Mesi, Gramma,” and kissed my cheek. The older children came in, they must have eaten earlier, and each kissed and thanked me. I’m sure madam Nicole instructed them to do so, but their smiles and thanks were obviously sincere.
I almost started crying but held it in. But I am tearing up now, recounting this for you.
Each kiss felt like a burning conviction to me; each “mesi’” not deserved, but an affront.
WHY SHOULD THESE 42 CHILDREN ACT LIKE A BANANA OF THEIR OWN IS A 12 COURSE BANQUET??? What is wrong with our world when these innocent, thankful, JOYFUL children have so little, while I, and most Americans I know are struggling to lose weight?
Their gratitude shamed me.
And I know there are millions of people around the globe who have even less than these children.
All we supporters of Loving Haiti are making a HUGE difference in these childrens’ lives, and I promise a more cheerful, hopeful message next time I post. (also more details about costs of meals etc here.)
But for now I am ok with sharing my conviction (conviction encourages moving forward) versus condemnation (which paralyzes) that we can do more!
I thank God and think about about how as parents, aunts and uncles, we give things to our children and say, “Share with your brothers and sisters.”
I believe God likewise gives, and says, “Ok now, share.”