This is my last month in Haiti. The updates I write will be on a hiatus until my next visit. I have a fiancée back in Naples that has been patiently waiting to be married, a nephew that was just born that I need to properly introduce myself to, and school that is waiting to be finished. I understand now why regardless of the crime rate, lack of A/C, and unreliable electricity, my parents are looking forward to retiring here. My siblings and I used to think that doing so was a terrible idea but I see now that there is peace amongst all the chaos that is ensuing in Haiti. A peace that is worth the abandonment of first-world luxuries.
As I watch the kids and locals I can’t help but envision my parents in their place. Neither one of my parents was wealthy and when it came to materialistic things, both had little to nothing living in the type of homes that you would see on the side of the road while you make your way to POH. Small (and built with material that would have taken the Big bad Wolf a few huffs and puffs to blow down.) but crowded with kids and other family members causing multiple people to sleep on dirt or hard concert floors. The toilets were a huge hole in the ground outside and to bathe or do laundry you’d have to make your way to the nearest river. It wasn’t uncommon that the soap they used to wash was the same soap they used to do laundry with.
I would watch as the little girls huddle up to make the most exquisite pretend dinners out of crushed up leaves, mud, rocks, and anything else they could get their hands on and chuckle at the idea of my mother and her friends doing the same thing when she was just a little girl or overhear a conversation amongst strangers and wonder if my father had a conversation with a friend or stranger at that very same spot. Little things like that would have my mind wonder how they would be as friends. I only know Angie and Andre as parents, as my mom and dad but the stories they share of their past adventures and mischiefs makes me wish I could go back in time and meet the younger versions of them. These are silly thoughts I know but thoughts I conjured up as a little boy that still lingers in my head to this day.
I’m not sure if things are back to normal or if I have adapted to the changes that it feels like things are back to normal. Micro Tremors still happen from time to time. The sound of helicopters and planes lost their luster and ceased to capture the attention of the kids. Now they don’t seem so foreign or out of place, the sounds seem like any other sound that Haiti offers. The fissures on the roads from the earthquake are now part of Les Cayes’ pothole collection. POH school, which was supposed to start in September has been pushed back till October. I had heard that parents of students were thankful that the Earthquake happened because they couldn’t afford to send their kids off to school in September.
Andre arriving in Les Cayes, Haiti was a morale booster for the kids, staff, and myself. Rocking his gray beard, flat cap, and belly makes him seem like a Haitian Santa Claus, bringing candy
and gifts to the kids, staff members, and those around the community. Since him being here bucket showers are a thing of the past because the water pump issue is solved. To those who
donated to solve that problem, thank you. The community as well as those of us at POH are all able to benefit from the easy access to water. Making doing laundry and bathing so much
The outer wall has been repaired and fortified, and the window screens replaced which halted the invasion of bugs at night and allowing the kids to sleep peacefully.
*Before the screens were fixed—————-
“Papi (Andre) is sleeping outside with us.” Edison asked. It was meant to be a question but often times the kids at POH purposefully change their questions into statements to increase the likelihood of a “yes” answer. For example, instead of “Can I get candy ?” They would say, “I’m getting candy too.” “I don’t know that depends on him,” I said replying to Edison. “Where Papi sleep that’s where I’m sleeping too.” A few of the kids said. “That’s fine I’m sleeping inside the van with the boys.” I replied. Andre had decided to sleep in the Ford tuck which only seats five people so it was first come first serve and those that weren’t able to sleep in the same truck as Andre were visibly upset. The Ford truck isn’t comfortable to sleep in when it’s crowded with people. With the van at least we can kick back and (kinda) stretch our legs. Although neither one can compare to an actual bed, the van offers more comfort in my opinion. I tried explaining to André but he had decided to sleep in the ford truck accompanied by Mica, Edson, and Kenny.
*In the morning*
“Good morning,” I said while opening the car door. I noticed Edison’s eyes seemed baggier
“How was your night?”
“I couldn’t sleep, your dad snores too loud,” Edison said with a blank face.
“I was Snoring Edison?” Replied André
“I woke up in the middle of the night and I saw Kenny on his knees, praying and when I woke
up this morning he was still on his knees praying! Man!… this guy had a lot to say to God.”
André said Jokingly.
In reality, Kenny was just looking for a better position to sleep in, and sleeping with his knees on the floor of the truck while his head was on the passenger seat was comfier for him.
Thank you for reading my updates and for all the positive feedback I enjoyed being able to write them. I was naïve to think that all I was going to do while I was in Haiti was observe, take pictures and write stories. I was very much involved in the life and activities of the kids and the staff. I believe I accomplished more than my initial personal goals while staying at POH. I formed relationships with the staff, kids, and a few people from the community, I learned how to read, write and speak Creole better. Learned how to drive a motorcycle (almost broke my leg in the process) and drive through the anxiety-inducing traffic of Haiti. My stay in Haiti taught me so much about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Living in a 3rd country I had no choice but to grow. Even though I had probably spent my summer during one of the worst summers in Haitian history I will be counting the days until I return. Most importantly thank you for your prayers they have kept us safe.