Sixteen of us crowd together on the disheveled, upholstered benches of the Tap Tap, bouncing into each other as we travel over pitted, unpaved and trash strewn streets. With anticipation and some apprehension, we enter Cite Soleil for the 2nd time today. As we come to a stop the metal door opens and we step out into the throngs of children, eager faces upward; arms reaching towards us. There is an unspoken awareness between the children and ourselves...that we must choose...and as we reach for one (a few of us for two, straddling each on a separate hip), we experience a pang of guilt at the disappointment we imagine the other children might feel. I reach for the little girl at my feet with cornrows in her hair, and hoist her onto my left hip.
The buckets line up and as the water begins to flow I observe that the line is, once again, filled predominantly with women and younger girls, each alert to the edging up of buckets, as the front buckets are filled quickly. Chiriya and Vicky are at the helm, filling the buckets with the gushing water. The men and several women on our team, sweating profusely and with tired hands now, carry the full buckets to different homes, children running up to them, patting their backs and yelling "hey you," pointing to the full bucket and beckoning their help. There is an effort to ensure that no one cuts in line but this is unsuccessful today as after nearly 30 minutes, chaos breaks out, several people shoving their way to the front without waiting their turn. The water is turned off so order can be obtained. It seems unfairness is a concept to be reckoned with here as it is at home. As the water runs out, we are called back to the Tap Tap. Gently, we put the children down, bid our farewells as we leave them behind in trash strewn streets and the murky gutter water from last night's rain. We are exhausted now, emotionally and physically, and admit as much when informed that this will be our final water stop.
As we debrief at the end of the day a wealth of complexities overwhelm us. Annie shares a song by Faith Hill that enables us to feel strength and hope as we know that for all of us, the children and people of Cite Soleil, "There Will Come a Day."