Rick from Chicago here, by request (Karen), and acknowledging that the reason that Chicago is called the Windy City has nothing to do with the wind, rather that we tend to be talkers. So, pardon my being verbose, but I have 2 days of catch-up to write. (or else?)
Yesterday Liette and I went to Deschapelles to distribute the donated school materials that we had brought down with us (thank you again Therese & Paul, Madeleine, Tanya, Laura and Brian, Heather and Marc, LT, and Uncle P and Auntie). We were supposed to go via Luckner’s truck, but there were some mechanical problems, so we had to hire 2 motorcycle to bring us in (and Richard, the head of Security had a motorcycle as well). The bags weighed around 50 pounds each, and there were 2 of them. And 2 of us. Neither bike had mirrors, helmets, or anything that might even slightly resemble
anything of the like. I think the headlight worked on one of them though, which didn’t matter to us since it was daytime).
|Liette & Rick heading off with school supplies for adults in a literacy program|
Per Liette’s comments in the last blog update, we weren’t sure exactly how many people of the students would show up at the adult literacy school for us to handout the donated school goods. Could have been four, could have been twenty-five. Turns out, it was right around fifty. And we had only twenty-seven sets of items. Some quick thinking had us splitting the sets of items in half, which meant some folks wouldn’t be getting a bag. They were quite gracious about it though. I should note that there were a few people who tried to double dip and get two sets of materials. I could easily pick these folks out though, as they were wearing their small backpacks already. That, and several people who had gotten their items would point me away from the double dippers to those who’d not received anything. The students were so happy to receive some school supplies and many came up to thank Liette individually.
|Adult students with their new school supplies|
Once we finished up at the school, they thanked us and Liette and I then continued on to her friend Rigaud’s house. He showed us around his property, and Liette and he caught up on old times. When it was time for us to go, Rigaud insisted on carrying the bag that I was holding, and he lead us around a mile to the road and said goodbye. We walked thirty minutes or so back to HATS, got dinner, and then hit the roof for rooftop stars with the kids again. Then it was off to bed, as Wednesday would mark our last full day for this trip.
Wednesday update: This was my last full day at HATS, and it started at 4:45 AM with a solo run along the river. Kind of odd to jog with a security detail behind you, but I probably needed the protection, and definitely needed the light (it was pitch black until I got back around 6).
|Rick going to leave the compound for a run. Security will follow on moto.|
|Rick is off with security following|
After the run and a quick shower, I gathered up with the children and staff for morning Devotions (songs). I’ve come to enjoy these very much, and it will be one of the things I miss most about Haiti while I’m away.
After breakfast we went to the market in Verrettes, and it was an experience like no other. Haitians must have iron stomachs. I think I’ll leave it at that.
|At Verrettes Market|
I also had an opportunity to ride in a Tap-Tap. This is the Haitian equivalent of a group taxi. And by “group taxi”, I mean “How many human beings can we jam into the back of a pickup truck – standing, sitting, and what not”. Today’s answer was eighteen (not counting us. I’m not kidding, I counted eighteen people in the back of this small pickup truck. To be fair though, after the first stop, a few people got off and we went down to a significantly more manageable figure (fourteen or so). Yep.
We returned to the compound for lunch, and then took a trip with Luckner to Ti Riviere – a town with an aging Haitian Castle that will hopefully be revitalized in the near future. We also saw Fort Pierrot (built in 1802), the site of the second to last battle for Haitian independence. There was also a voodoo site in the fort, which was kind of odd, but very interesting. Voodoo is very much alive in Haiti, but there wasn’t much to be seen where we went.
|Luckner teaching about Fort Pierrot|
Along the way, we also saw the river dam, currently under construction. It was once automated so it self-regulated according to need. However the person running the dam was corrupt, stole a huge barrel of oil, and the automating system was ruined. Now it has to be regulated manually, and we’re reminded the corruption adversely affects the poorest of the poor the most.
|Palais 365 Doors|
We wound down our trip shortly thereafter, and headed back to the Compound. I declined the afternoon walk in favor of starting to get my things packed for the trip back to the States. Dinner after the walk, final Devotions (for me for this trip), and then to the office
for this last blog update.
It’s going to be impossible to put my thoughts into words about this experience, so I’d say this – if you can get here – do. I think most people probably think they’re coming to help others. To some extent, that’s true (at least this temporary blogger thought so). To a larger extent, you’ll leave Haiti a better person than when you arrived. The heat may be a dog’s breakfast, but everything else is the cat’s meow.
The staff has been so great to me, and the children…. priceless. I’m quite thankful for having had this opportunity to come down and spend some time here, and I told the children as much this morning when Karen asked me to say a few words. <br /><br />
|Happy kids with sugar cane|
Nelson Mandela once said something like “Everywhere I go, I wear you”. It means that none of us is our own person entirely. Rather, we’re the culmination of the people and experiences we have had. I leave Haiti wearing 16 HATS children, 10(ish) Haitan staff members, a Calgarian, 2 Winnipegian’s, and a Newfie. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Until We Meet Again My Friends,
~Rick from Chicago