Day 5-written by Esther
Life in Haiti is hard. Everything takes immense effort. I’m not complaining rather want to portray how much of the world lives in comparison to American’s abundance. Life in Haiti is vastly different than life in America. The cooking here is done in a cement hut about 5 by 10 feet over hot coals. The coals are brought in on top of women’s heads in bags weighing around 50 pounds. The ironing is done in an old metal iron that you fill with hot coals. We watched a young girl bang on the iron outside to get rid of the smoke. There is only power about 2 hours of the day and the generator really seems to be turned on just for us—the guests. It is nice to be able to read and write with a light on or to charge our computer. We are tending to go to bed when the generator is turned off around 9:30. Access to shower water is limited; when there is water it is a trickle of cold water but we manage to wash our hair. You can’t drink the well water here so those who can drink bottled water. There is no ice and a ‘cold’ soda or water are slightly below room temperature. It is about 85 to 90 degrees. There are rats that run across our tin roof at night and occasionally through our room. And more so than all the difficult aspects of life that I mentioned are starvation, being an orphan or simply trying to survive.
Tomorrow Pastor Francois feeds the widows. At this point he’s not sure how he will acquire the beans, rice and oil needed because he needs to go to the bank which was closed today due to Good Friday. And he is reluctant to take American dollars because the exchange rate will be poor buying directly from the market verses from the bank. To feed the widows each week cost about 350.00 American dollars which, makes the price of rice and beans equivalent to the US cost. I am surprised at how expensive the staples are here in Haiti. Everything is taxed upon entering the country. Yesterday, we went to the airport to drop a local missionary’s family off for their return home. There was a customs man who was treated like a king. He arbitrarily decided what the tax was on each item. Most of the supplies that arrived via the missionary’s flight were for the local hospital.
Today, we walked with two of the girls from the children’s home, Louisne and Felicine, to the river where the town’s folk wash their clothes and bodies. A young man Jakey joined us. He was 15 years old and spoke pretty good English. We bought sodas for our sweltering walk. I never thought I would be drinking Coke in my lifetime but when the closest espresso is an ocean away Coke is the next best thing J. Although it gave me my first headache! After the girls finished their sodas they threw the bottles into the river. I wanted to stop them from littering but I stopped myself as there is really no place for garbage–no garbage service. Garbage is everywhere which creates a smell. It litters the streets and rivers.
On our walk we passed a funeral procession. A band serenaded a group of about 50 people walking behind a casket. We were unsure how to show respect so we moved to the side of the road and averted our eyes. We have been in Haiti 5 days and witnessed three deaths. The first death music was played all night in respect. There are many deaths in Pignon. I am still uncertain of the population of Pignon what I’ve heard is around 7,000 people.
We just returned from a Good Friday service. We were two of three white people attending the service. The people in Haiti are so welcoming. Pignon is a relatively safe town. The service was three hours long. Most of the service was in Creole however, Pastor Francois gave the sermon in English as another pastor spoke in Creole. I caught about half of what he said J. Pastor showed a clip from Passion of the Christ. At one point, the sound went out and we had a universal moment of equality as far as trying to understand a film with no language. Watching footage of Jesus was moving regardless of the language barrier. The film helped bring home the sentiments of Good Friday and Easter. During the service the power went out twice but the singing never stopped. The singing is incredible with whole body movements. I found myself swaying along and feeling moved even though I didn’t understand the content of the songs.
I feel God’s presence in Haiti among all the starvation and hopelessness. God is the light within the dark and my hope at the end of a long day in Haiti.