I would never starve on a diet of Haitian food, and Germaine, the cook, creates smells in the kitchen that put a smile on your insides! And I THOUGHT I didn’t like mangoes, but it turns out I’m a bit of a princess and just need mangoes right from the tree! Lucky for me, there are several close by, not far from the coconut and almond trees at the school next door. Who knew almonds grew on trees?
The school and the church border the compound, and this year, the school accommodated children up to grade 10. In September, Karen said, they will add a grade 11, then grades 12 and 13 the subsequent years. Some of the kids who came with us couldn’t wait to show us the classrooms, and then the kitchen where the women make the children’s daily lunches over hot charcoal stoves. For some of these kids, the meals at the school are the only food they get for the day…
From the classrooms, we cross the rocky lawn that doubles as a soccer field and end up at the church, which is so welcoming with its warm yellow walls. On a previous trip, Beate made drums by tightly wrapping packing tape over wooden frames –I can’t wait to hear them in
Church on Sunday morning. I am already lifted by the voices and songs that fill the devotion room every morning. It’s a good cup of soul food to start each day.
We cross back through the property, and the 2 boys with us, Moise and J.J., run ahead to one of the beautiful trees in the corner of the property. Turns out it’s an almond tree, and before we know it, J.J. was lost in the leaves and branches—tree climbing is a universal childhood skill.
Meanwhile, Leica found some ripe almonds on the ground and was hard at work opening one with a small rock. I didn’t realize getting one small almond from its shell was so labor intensive–guess that’s why they cost us a small fortune at home–but none will ever taste as good as the ones Leica proudly shared with me.
Time to make our way back to the compound–we can hear the chorus of little voices on the other side of the wall. There’s still a little time for playing before darkness sets in.
As one more day disappears, I have been reminded of the importance of education, especially to these children, and they are SO happy and eager to learn. But from almond trees to chalkboards, if you keep your eyes open, learning will happen all around you!
|HATS beauty parlour Heather is the daring customer|
I’m getting to know how to do things around the compound more and more. For instance, I learned how to convert Gouds to Haitian dollars (1000 gouds is 200 Haitian dollars…a Haitian dollar is about ???? Haven’t got that one down yet!!!) I learned how to dispense the pay to the employees, update the payroll book for this month, prepare the new pay envelopes, change the power from generator to battery inverter, drive to the bank in St. Marc to pick up the money for the month…okay, I didn’t actually drive, but I acted as third in command to security (Ronald is our real security and went with us, and Ti Luc was our second in command…notice the blog he wrote today and the pictures he chose to represent Mama, Beate and himself…too cute). Oh, did I mention that I am also being trained for massage therapy duty (Vivienne, where are you when I need you)? Not bad for a start to my training to come back for a longer time next summer.
|new secretary Beate|
|Ti Luc’s St marc blog|
|massage therapists for the princess|
We went to Luckner’s place again to pick up a few things that we needed for the orphanage, and look what Mama Karen found. What two precious faces. Too bad we couldn’t keep her, but her real mama (a neighbour of Luckner’s) wouldn’t hear of it.
|Karen and beautiful baby at Luckner’s|
On our return, we managed to get a short walk in before supper. It’s amazing to see how well the kids can climb those beautiful trees. I stayed safely on the bottom.
|a break under our favourite tree|
The mornings are busy and everyone pitches in to do their chores…well almost everyone!
|Ti luc doing laundry|
|Karen hiding from doing work|
In the evening, after super, I give Ti Luc a shower and get him dressed for bed. I’m so glad that he trusts me enough to do this. I have been bathing him for the past five years mind you, but each year he gets older, and I always discuss with him what he would like me to do for him. Unfortunately for me, he doesn’t want to hold my hand anymore…hmmmpf…too much of a big boy for Beate!!!!! While I got Ti Luc ready for bed, the ladies set up 4 laptops for the computer club. Nothing is more exciting than kids discovering new tricks on the computer, and then sharing their new knowledge with each other. We adults, simply have to encourage them, and help out now and then, and more importantly, trust that these kids will learn their way around the computer faster than we ever will.
|Computer Club with Leica showing the boys|
It is day 2 of sewing classes & I have five students…Leica, Djemima, JJ, Moise & Dieunel. Typically, in Canada, my classes are filled with girls. Teaching boys is a whole different ballgame. They are interested in the foot peddle (and SPEED!), making designs on paper, hand sewing…which really surprised me! At home, I can hardly keep the attention to learn handsewing…we are just too interested in the “quick fix” & getting a project done. Here in Haiti, the kids are soaking it all in. Their stitches are straight, their interest in how a sewing machine is put together is incredible & they were really shocked that a sewing machine needs OIL! This had JJ smiling…so he is now the honorary sewing mechanic dude if anything goes wrong once I leave HATS They are making shorts this week, and being able to choose their OWN fabric & become their own designer, brought out the creative juices. We had to improvise if there wasn’t enough fabric & JJ had no problem creating a working plan to fashionably have 2 quarter sections of printed fabric & 2 opposing sections with matching solids. Moise had his eyes on a cool lime green & brown geometric pattern, Dieunel picked a sports theme, Djemima picked florals & Leica…of course CUPCAKES! After this it was go time & off to work they went to learn how to thread the machines, and begin their time sewing the first part of their shorts.
|JJ pinning his waist band|
|Ronaele showing Leica how to hand sew|
What did I get out of this? Well, Leica stepped on the gas peddle & a smile erupted immediately…I was a puddle of tears, trying to keep in my emotions. These kids one by one stole my heart with their expressive faces, their focus & enthusiasm. They did not want to stop for a break! It was 38 degrees in that room & TEACHER LAREE needed to find a cloth to wipe down her face. Life changing experience. This skill will hopefully blossom into something that they can use later in life. By the way…some of the world’s top fashion designers are MEN (ie. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein), so lets not underestimate the power of boys in sewing!! The children are so appreciative and welcoming. This experience will be with me forever.