Saturday, January 26, 2019

Day 6 Shiloh Team - Water Truck and Farm

So what is it like to do a water truck stop at stop 26? 

Somewhere between order and chaos.  If it was run by us and what we thought orderly, it would look nothing like it did today.  People coming out of nowhere with buckets and tubs, forming a line, sort of.  Buckets being shoved up the line as the water rushed out of the hose, a lot of water hitting the buckets but a refreshing amount also covered us and the dirty street.  Bucket after bucket was filled. And women and children were tasked with carrying it back to their homes - some tubs take two people, some take one, and for us newbies, we would carry one but have to switch hands at least twice in our walk because the metal handles bit into our unaccustomed hands. Those buckets are heavy! One boy asked me to help him carry.  We carried the first, then he wanted me to help with another, then another.  Ends up he had 10...  

As this was all happening on the narrow street, there were water trenches running down both sides of the streets with overflow water. Kids were bathing in the water, dumping it over their heads in shower fashion. Along the trenches, special mops were being used to move garbage out of the way to keep the water moving. Women were doing laundry in the big tubs. Kids were everywhere, many wanting to be held and if there were no free arms to scoop them up, they just held on to our free hand or a shirt or arm as we carried water with the other hand. 

Oh, and then scoot the line over for the motorcycle coming through, then the car that turned down the street and the carts hauling things. Somehow there was order in this event as this is life to the Haitians. 

Before leaving this stop, we walked out onto the pier where we saw some of the beauty of this country -  the blue ocean water set among this beautiful bay. Is is back dropped with the mountains but also the despair of Cite Soleil as Henry put it. What we would consider a beautiful bay area and 'waterfront property' had the banks littered with mounds of garbage right up to and into the water. Men were out in fishing boats dropping and collecting a big net while the women were on the dock cleaning the catch that was hauled in previously. 

The next stop in our day was the Fleri Farm. Healing Haiti purchased 28 acres of land in Cite Soleil to farm and grow produce. The midwesterner in me expected to see crops of corn and beans so imagine my surprise to learn about plantains (they bear one crop of fruit and then they die - but they grow really fast!), mangoes, lime trees and so much more.  The long term missionary charged with developing this plot of land into something for the future, has been challenged to learn what farming is in a Caribbean environment and he is a wealth of information already in his 10 months or so in Haiti. 

Last stop of our day was to the Haitian Museum in down town Port-au-Prince. However, once again, flexibility is key in Haiti and after our crazy tap tap ride through the city, we arrived to find the museum closed (although the sign and internet told us it would be open.)  Down town has some more open space with some buildings that were rebuilt after the earthquake.  It felt almost like a city park with open space where there were opportunities to purchase works by artisans. We stepped out of our tap tap to be immediately approached by a man selling fabric paintings. And then another, and another and another and another.  We were soon being smothered by men asking us to purchase their goods. After a couple quick purchases, we escaped to our tap tap.  That experience and the drive and sights in the city spared our disappointment at not being able to go to the museum!

Again, there were interesting observations and discussions in our tap tap rides.  I talked with our wise leader, Carol, about how so many of us want to donate or bring "things" to the people of Haiti as we know they are poor.  But Healing Haiti does not want to distribute things to people, Haiti has enough things - very evident driving through the city and seeing things for sale everywhere.  And everything you could want - clothes, furniture, shoes, food, coolers, engines, stereos, you name it! Haitians need the money to purchase the things that are already here. Healing Haiti is choosing to 'source local' - rather than bring things from the US, they are purchasing things here in Haiti to support the local economy. Haitians need jobs and incomes.

This was our last day of serving here in Haiti.  Sunday will be a day of worship and rest for us.