As Jonathan was preparing to go under the house to check on the frozen pipes (we thought had burst) I found every large pots to filled up with water, just in case.
We have been totally without water now for 2 days and the cold water froze a day before that. I went to the store and bought drinking water, gallon jug of water for coffee, then the pots in the tub for washing hands, taking a “dish tub” bath etc.
As the kids were brushing their teeth last night Kerby said “this is like we brush in Haiti”.
Even though Haiti is in nearly every conversation around the supper table we have really had a couple “Haiti” moments this week.
Most people in Haiti do not have drinking water or water at all for that matter. You see women and children walking sometimes 5 gallon buckets or any container they can find on their head packing water from the local pump (the old fashion kind) which can be miles from their home, just so they can wash dishes, clothes and to drink.
There are also little stores you can walk up to and they will fill your vessel with what they call “safe” drinking water. This would probably be safer and closer but it’s not free.
On top of not having water imagine not having or having very little electric. During Christmas most of the common area of Port au Prince only had electricity one or two hours in a 24 hour period, usually after most went to bed.
This does not stop people in Haiti. They go on with their daily life, doing what they can to survive. Women get up very early, while it’s still a “little” cool and walk to the area where people are selling their goods and perhaps purchase enough food just to cook for their family that day. They will have some kind of breakfast (flower, cinnamon pudding) ready for their children who will put on their little uniform to walk to school (sometimes for miles), if they are blessed to have the money to pay to go to school.
Then their mother will wash up the dishes on water she had to pack to their little one room home and get started on lunch. This is their largest meal of the day. A lot of Haitians only have a very small if any supper, sometimes consisting of a cup of hot tea. Imagine her getting the coal ready for the one burner stove, perhaps her husband made for her, or she puts the coal in the middle of several concrete blocks and sets the large pot on top the blocks to cook. She takes couple of dried fish she purchased and puts in the pot with a little oil and spices to make a tasty broth to cook the rice.Once the broth is ready she will take the small bag of rice she purchased off the street to feed her family for the day. Oh what we take for granted every day when we turn the knob on our stove and are ready to cook or call ahead and order take-out food.
After she gets the lunch started then she will begin cleaning the clothes. The water she had just packed on her head for a mile will be poured into a large wash tub, she will get the brown bar soap, hand made for laundry and begin hand scrubbing her families clothes. I have seen them work magic with this stuff. After she spends hours washing and hanging the clothes the children are home and ready to eat.
After they change out of their uniform and into their regular clothes, probably the same play clothes they have worn for over a week, they sit down and thank God for the blessings he has given them with the food they are about to eat. You see they really don’t know if there will be any food on their table the next day. After the children do their homework and chores for the day its usually getting close to dark.
In Haiti this is when things come alive, close to dark. Its cooler and people who don’t have electric don’t waist their candles and such, they are all outside. You will hear children playing soccer on the streets, with everything from a beat-up soccer ball to a balloon, or a rolls of paper with tap all over it. You see people sitting around visiting, children packing water to their home to wash before bedtime. And the wonderful smells fill the air of people cooking out on the street in their little home made cooking stove with homemade coal. You don’t find much rice or chicken being cooked this late in the evening. You will most likely find fried fritters, grilled hotdogs and such.
One of the sounds the ring out in the night is Church. In Haiti it seems they have church 24/7. I have laid in my bed at night hearing the church service just down the road going strong even up to midnight. Its funny they won’t have much in these little churches, but they will have a drummer, sometimes only one or two drums, and they will have a microphone blaring on a busted speaker. Mix that with the howling, barking dogs and the roosters who are so confused they have no idea what time it is. That is night time in Haiti.
Before the sun comes up most Haitians are up and ready to start the new day God has granted them, in the only life they know, a life most of us think is so sad and so hopeless. They don’t know they have things bad, not really. They work hard for their family from sun up to sun down. When you look back of old pictures and hear stores of our ancestors it sounds a lot like Haiti. Sometimes it don’t really sound so bad.
As I was writing this blog the little family I was thinking about was our family. It may not be on paper and is not legal but he is our son just the same. Blondy, Kerby and Kerlandy’s older brother, is living in Haiti with his father and aunt (his dad’s sister and her children). Blondy once lived in the orphanage with Kerby and Kerlandy. When their mother died when they were very young, their father could no longer take care of them. He really didn’t have a choice, he didn’t have the government to help him and lost his job trying to take care of three small children.
Blondy is too old to live in the orphanage and now lives in the little one-room home with his family, which is an upgrade from the one-room tent they had since the earthquake. We get to talk to Blondy a couple times a month to check on him and make sure he has food to eat. Its sad when one of the first things you ask is “Have you had food today?”.
Even though Blondy is 18 years old now he is only in 10th or 11th grade in high school. It’s not uncommon for a 25 year old to still be in high school. Sometimes they don’t get to finish or go at all for years because of the money.
Please continue to pray for people who don’t have the basics. No PlayStation, DVR or Iphone. Pray for those with no water, electric and no food.