Posted by: Cathy | July 13, 2012

Week #3: Daily Life in Haiti…

We are now into our 3rd week in Haiti, and with each and every passing day I see Delmace grow a little more connected to the people who I consider to be his first family…  He greets more and more of the staff members at Wings by their correct names, and is more willing to do stuff with them – without needing me right by his side.  He waits every morning to hear Gephte’s voice next door – and then tells me, “Papa’s here!”, and he loves when the older kids refer to him as their “little brother”.  Although still a bit reluctant to spend a lot of time in the crowded dorm rooms at the kids’ house, he truly enjoys playing with many of the kids on the big open terrace in front of our house.

Delmace and Jozye and the “fort” they made from an old table, pillows, and a basketball pole…

Delmace’s journal page about playing with some of the Wings staff and kids

This is a relatively quiet week at Wings…  Renee’s Mom, Lucy left early Wednesday morning, and since then, Delmace and I have had a room to ourselves – and we have enjoyed being able to spread out!  Before Lucy left, Renee took her, Delmace & I for a special overnight stay at the Villa Creole Hotel in Port-au-Prince 🙂  Two days of sun, swimming, good food, AC, hot running water, and wonderful company – which also included good friends Bill and Michael joining us for breakfast!  We had a fabulous time – and believe me, both Delmace & I really appreciated that hot running water…

Delmace & I in the pool at the Villa Creole

There are so many things we take for granted – until we don’t have them…  Hot running water is just one of them.  Over the years, on my various trips to Haiti, I’ve gotten used to the cold water “bucket” showers – but Delmace was having none of that!  Luckily, I am able to heat up a small amount of water for him each evening so his “bucket” showers are not quite so chilly…  But most people in Haiti don’t have that luxury.  Most kids are grateful if they have relatively clean water with which to bath…

Today was laundry day for me and Delmace.  Because we are here for 5 weeks, it was impossible for me to pack enough clothing for the whole trip.  That’s what I’ve always done in the past – bring enough stuff to last a week or two, but that wasn’t possible this time…  So, today, I washed clothes…  Well, actually, I just did socks and underwear, and was fortunate that I could ask the 2 women who do all the laundry at Wings to wash our shirts and shorts…  The amount of laundry these women wash each day – by hand – boggles my mind!  Between visitor sheets and towels, and all the clothes and bedding for the kids, laundry is something that is NEVER, EVER, finished here.  How easy it is at home to just run downstairs and throw a load in the washer without even thinking about it… But today, I was sitting in the bathroom with a big white bucket of sudsy water, washing items by hand.  When they were finally clean, there is no dryer to throw them into…  Each item must be wrung out and hung to dry. By the time I was finished (several hours later, as I also had wring out all the clothes the laundry women washed for me), our clothes were draped over every available inch of balcony space.  That’s how it is in Haiti – every morning, everywhere you go, you see clothes hung out to dry in the morning sun.

Today, after all that laundry, I really wanted to go to the Baptist Mission and get some lunch at their restaurant.  At the old Wings, this was relatively easy, as they were only a few doors away from us… But now, although it is possible to walk there, it is not possible to push a wheelchair there (roads in Haiti are NOT wheelchair friendly, and, as Delmace loves to point out, there are no sidewalks), so that meant either carrying Delmace or hitching a ride.  This is another fact of daily life in Haiti – sometimes you go places on a certain day or time, simply because a ride happens to be available.  Luckily for us, a ride was available – we snagged the van that had just returned some of the kids from their weekly horseback riding program!

We decided to take one of the older boys, Peterson, with us as a special treat.  Peterson works with the laundry women – and he is a hard worker!  He hauls all the laundry up and down every day – up and down tons of stairs – big, heavy, wet baskets of laundry… And he seldom complains about his work.

One of the many sets of steep stairs at Wings… This is John, one of my favorite kids, who loves going up and downs the stairs…

We piled into the van, and after negotiating unpaved roads, semi- paved roads, and a crowded market area, we arrived at our destination.  It’s weird that, at home in Boston, I would never dream of letting Delmace get into a car or van without having a car seat, and he would never be allowed to ride in the front seat – but in Haiti, I don’t give it a second thought…  I mean, even if I’d brought his car seat, most vehicles don’t have working seatbelts, so using a car seat would be impossible…  You’d think I’d be a nervous wreck driving around like that – especially given the traffic, road conditions, and unexpected obstacles, but I actually don’t even think about it.  For all the unsafe conditions, I don’t see many accidents – I don’t know why… It doesn’t make sense – I guess Haitians are just really good drivers!

Apparently in Haiti, there are no laws against open beer bottles in moving vehicles either…

I got my lunch I wanted today – and it was just as good as I remembered from previous years.  Delmace, Renee, and Peterson enjoyed their meals as well – and Peterson was quite happy to finish what Delmace didn’t eat…  And that’s another fact of daily life in Haiti – most people don’t always know when or how much they’ll eat at their next meal, so they eat everything that is available to them at a given time.  In addition to his meal (and half of Delmace’s), Peterson also managed to put away an extra large ice cream sundae!  And he still had room for some fried plantains as we were leaving – a gift from his mother who sells food on the street in front of the Baptist Mission…

Peterson and his ice cream sundae!

Delmace was excited to get an up close look at a Fresco cart (Haitian sno-cone) as we were leaving.  He LOVES Fresco carts and would love to try one – but he can’t, because they don’t use ice that is made from “safe” drinking water…  He doesn’t understand why it’s OK for Haitian kids to eat them and he can’t.  I try to explain that their stomachs are used to that water and his isn’t, but he doesn’ t buy it.  He thinks that everyone should have “safe” water to drink and make sno-cones with.  I do too, but that’s not the way it is in Haiti…  But it’s hard to explain that to a 6 year old…

Delmace and I by a Fresco cart outside the Baptist Mission. Delmace is fascinated by Fresco carts…

 

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