Friday, October 14, 2011

Homes, School, Farms

Out at 4am.

Slept in backseat, Kendra needed a nap about 7:30am, so I drove to the border. Easy crossing, I can't believe how much the water has risen. We even saw rocks in the middle of the road from a landslide.

The border crossing is always an experience!
Whenever I cross the border, my heart sinks a little and I ask myself why on earth I come back to this place.  This time I was especially nervous because my Dad had me read the US Travel website's warning on Haiti.  Oh wow, don't read it!  Any document that two paragraphs in says "If you still decide to travel to Haiti despite this warning...", you know they are serious.

My fear quickly subsided after some extra prayer and when we arrived at land by 10:45am to meet ACTED. I was really anxious when we were driving the 2k down the dirt road from the main road to the village entrance. I was so excited that I almost shed a tear. It was a weird feeling not knowing what to expect since this has been my longest time away since the people moved in. A lot can happen in 2.5 months.

When we pulled up, ACTED had already arrived. They are a french organization that has agreed to build better temporary housing in the form of plywood for the people. I hugged the Pastor first, then shook hands with the ACTED staff. All the kids were yelling my name and I wanted to say hi, but we were already late to the meeting, so I waved from afar. While we were meeting, all the kids kept yelling my name "Emily, Emily!"

ACTED said they could build all the shelters in 4 days and will start staking out the land in 2 weeks. The head of the organization came out because of all the trouble we've had getting things going.  Praise the Lord for progress and better shelters for our villagers!

When the ACTED representatives left, the kids ran up to give me hugs and kisses on the check. It was very sweet. Since the Japanese UN Military (engineers) are demolishing what's left of the hospital and removing rubble, the children from the school are not allowed to be down there and are having school at our village under tarps.  It's very fun to see all the kids running around and a little discouraging to see what school is really like.

Lunch time.
I went around with Kendra and Omar to say hello to all the groups of people. Lots of "Bonswas" and people hugging and waving. We didn't have a translator, so they laughed at my attempt at speaking creole. I visited my friend Molive Mesifort who is pregnant.  She is so beautiful!  Yonel wanted us to take another photo of his new baby, Elby and we visited the newest addition to the village, Denise's 3 week old son. The new baby is so small and was left under the mosquito net crying.  Yonel knocked and took me in so I could hold the baby. It did not look lively, eyes a little glazed over. I'm concerned.

Yonel and our DR friend, Omar
Molive Mesifort and I
I loved seeing fruit on all the trees we planted! Alain from IOM visited the site this week and the people even offered him a melon. What an amazing gesture from people who have little to no food.

A few of the men and Josline went with us to walk and see the agricultural land. Apparently after they planted, people from the community let their animals in the fence to go to the well for water...then the animals ate all the food.  Aye.

The Land
The culprit.
On the way, I pulled out my creole cheat sheet to practice my phrases with Josline.  The two of us were walking at the back of the group and she could understand me! She could understand the creole I taught myself! Then everyone wanted to teach me something and that's when I could use my favorite phrase "Mwen pa compren" or "I don't understand."

The closer I get to the people, the more I see that their guards are down a little further. Even with the language barrier, it is a little easier to read their body language and understand who and what they are about.

By the time we walked back, school was out and we could say hello to Miss Coutard. She was excited to share details of the school and how things are going. I think she is so wise.

Afterwards, we walked down to HELP to see Dr B and what the Japanese UN are doing to demolish the rest of the hospital and pharmacy that was destroyed in the earthquake. It was crazy! The doctor had mixed feelings too, 18 years of work to rebuild. We walked around the rubble with him and he gave us a tour of the new plan so we could see his vision.

The Peru UN Military men are guarding his land as security for the next month. They are there 24 hours a day and while Kendra and Omar spoke with them, Dr B and I spoke about the people and his family. He then informed me that as a doctor he always looks at women's weight when he hasn't seen them for a few months and assured me that I hadn't gained any weight. Gee, thanks?
The Peru UN has been staying the night in the clinic at HELP.
Check out those guns on their beds!
Back to the site to meet Julio and Artistil from Water Missions International. They are putting a water  treatment system in at the site. It will serve the surrounding area as they have done extension research to find that all the wells in the greater area have too much bacteria to be deemed "safe, drinkable water". Wow. We are out in the country, but that is pretty bad. The people of the village will be able to use it as a small enterprise, selling 5 gallons of water for a small price.

Met a translator Dr Swarez recommended. Seems nice enough. The hard part for me is he only knows Spanish and Creole. Kendra knows Spanish and English, Omar - Spanish and minimal English, Emily - English, minimal Spanish and a few creole phrases. At one point, Kendra was negotiating a rate per day for the guy and he didn't understand, so Kendra said it to Omar in Spanish who said it to the translator Jose' in Spanish who asked a question in Creole to his friend and then it went all the way back down the line. This may be a little crazy. I already know it will drive me nuts not knowing what's being said, and it is usually bad enough translating English and Creole and now we have English to Spanish to Creole. Talk about lost in translation!

Dropped off our new friend and headed to the UN Log Base to meet Alain from IOM. Good meeting.

About this time our stomachs started growling because we had only had 1 muffin each in the Dominican Republic at 4am and a few handfuls of trail mix before we got to the site. I absolutely will not eat in front of the people and I think it is good that we feel what people go through daily here. In high school, I did a 30 Hour Famine event with my youth group. There are kids in our camp who have gone longer without eating and that is just not ok.

Dinner at Log Base "Bar and Grill". Met a great couple who work in the Log Base and agreed with our thoughts on the Haiti rebuild and even gave us some ideas and insider info on the Log Base. I even had my first coca cola in over 2 months to toast my return to Haiti and a good first day. We might have toasted to going to bed early tonight too.

Arrived to Russ and Sherry's place in Vivy Michel (pronounce ve-ve Michelle) about 8pm. Gorgeous house, amazing bedrooms, HOT showers, compassionate people and we arrived to fresh cookies from the oven. Whoa.

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