Waking up an hour earlier than normal, I was excited for the state of complete exhaustion which would overtake our team after our two water stops. My own modestly exercised body was pushed to the limit on our first water truck day, so I naturally expected the same to happen today. As we sat around the breakfast table, we learned that the rain had made the roads to Cite Soleil too difficult to drive on, and the entire endeavor of giving out water was deemed illogical by the drivers who reasoned that the rain would provide people with enough water for the day. After a unanimous decision, we made our way to an orphanage for sick and dying babies. Chance the Rapper has this song where he talks about negative things actually being blessings in disguise. Today was one those scenarios. Being there with the babies reminds me of that scene in the Rugrats Movie (a Carrillo family favorite) where all the babies sing and dance. There are so many tiny babies with distinct personalities, it's just awesome. The difference is that the babies we were with are in various stages of disease and malnutrition. I read somewhere that the most distressing sound for human beings is a baby crying, and the most pleasant sound is a baby laughing. Needless to say, this was one of the best and hardest experiences for us. It's just human nature to love babies. And babies love us too.
We went to another orphanage afterwards, LaPherre's, where we sang and made crafts with some kids. These kids weren't as antsy as the kids from yesterday, who could hit that nae nae, and I thought were lots of fun (although I wasn't in charge so I just rejoiced in the middle of the chaos with a little girl meticulously decorating her styrofoam cross). These little guys sang and clapped and danced happily, but politely. One little girl chugged a frozen soda afterwards, a reward for her hard work. I was eventually approached by a little girl who wanted to go on my shoulders. Never having attempted this before, I was terrified for her safety, but eventually got her up with the help of Al. We watched as the rest of the team played jump rope with some girls who put us to shame, or talked to some of the kids who wanted to practice their English, or just sat with some children who wanted to be held. One little guy sat smugly placing stickers on his face. When I gave him a thumbs up and told him I liked his style, he just shot me this cool look that said "I know; I'm awesome". These visits to orphanages always seem too short, but I know that they have a lasting impact for the kids we get to interact with.
Our day ended at Fleri Bakery, a bakery created for Haitian job creation. Down the hill from Grace Village, a young man about my own age took our order for pomme frites, Haitian Kibe (a delicious empanada type food), papitas and mango salsa, and three different pizzas. This young man is part of a program that seeks to give applicable skills to kids transitioning from school to the real world. He understood our orders given to him in 100mph English, smiling as he brought us our feast. Throughout the week, I have noticed that there is a generation of young Haitians growing up in the most interconnected world ever. They have grown up in a Haiti of relative stability (compared to the past) and incredible optimism. You can feel the hope manifesting itself into tangible reality. For example, the road outside our guest house is currently being paved. We had to walk about two blocks because of the dirt and machinery blocking our path, a small price to pay for the progress of an amazing country. Last year, I watched this movie where this guy talked about his life growing up as a Korean orphan in (I think) Belgium with his adoptive family. The South Korea of a generation ago, filled with war and poverty and pain, is nothing like the South Korea of my generation, filled with "Oppa Gangnam Style!", delicious barbecue, and makeup gurus. Perhaps the Haiti of my children's generation will carry similar connotations. I really hope so. The people here deserve it. They are kind, and strong, and fun, and just love life so much. In closing, I have to quote the great California native Ice Cube, "Today was a good day".