TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
May 3, 2013
S U C H I S L I F E !
He did not even notice that I was watching. He was just one little boy doing an ordinary household chore in a Haitian-sort-of-way. I love when I can just observe without being intrusive on the event unfolding! The chore was to dispose of the family’s trash by the seashore. The two five gallon buckets of gross, smelly gunk was more than any little boy should be expected to carry, but nonetheless, this was his job. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is a common saying and in Haiti inventions of necessity abound. The boy had somehow come upon a tiny two-wheel bicycle. The seat was long gone, as well as the tire that once was on the front rim. The handle of each bucket was draped over one of the handlebars, while the bottom of the buckets just barely missed dragging on the ground. Over bumpy road and through uneven grass and areas of mud, he came ‘porting his load. At first glance, I thought the buckets were filled with charcoal and that the little boy was trying to sell his goods to make a few pennies. It was not until the heavy buckets up righted the bicycle that I saw him remove the buckets and carry them the last few feet to a “suitable” place for dumping. He made sure each bucket was completely empty and then he found an old insole of a shoe to “clean” the outside of one of the buckets that had gotten too dirty. That chore being done, he returned to his one-tire bicycle, remounted the buckets on to the handlebars and with a joyful little sidekick in his step he headed back for home. He never looked my way. He was just intent on doing what he had come to do.
I am not sure why scenes like this intrigue me. Perhaps it is just learning more about how poor Haitians live their everyday lives. Perhaps it is because I marvel at what chores little ones in Haiti are required to do. Perhaps it is because complaining is not part of the equation.
On another day, it was joy that I found! I was in my car on the side of the road waiting for traffic to clear. I noticed three little royal blue, gingham plaid uniformed girls nearby walking home from school. One of them broke out into a grin, waved and then shouted the word “Blan!” (white) when she caught sight of me. I greeted them with “Bon swa!” (Good afternoon) and they came bolting towards me. Without hesitation all three pairs of hands reached through my open car window and thirty little fingers ruffled with delight through my hair, which feels so very different from their own. They giggled with glee. When I asked them if they were finished with school for the day, they nodded and giggled some more. Just as quickly, they continued on their way, leaving me with a happy heart!
On yet another day, I witnessed a traffic accident. It happened so fast, I am not sure who hit what, but it resulted in a man who was pushing a wheelbarrow being thrown onto the asphalt of the main highway coming into town and the contents of his wheelbarrow being scattered on the muddy roadside. As he lay stunned and motionless, men immediately appeared from every direction to check on his wellbeing and to help him up and out of harm’s way. Without thinking twice, bystanders up righted his wheelbarrow. They rearranged toppled sheets of stiff cardboard to stand up around the inside rim of the wheelbarrow so that the contents of the load would once again be kept from spilling over the rim. On the ground lay a mound of pebbles of rock salt – the man’s entire wares for the day. Without these goods, the man would certainly go home penniless. One woman across the street tossed a broom through traffic, so that helpers could sweep up what could be salvaged. Another man produced a large tin can and started scooping up the mounded portions of the salt and reinserted it into the wheelbarrow. Every possible pebble of salt that could be salvaged was returned to its original location. The crowd remained until everyone was certain that the man was able to go about his business.
Again, I was intrigued. The livelihood of poor Haitians is so fragile. One accident like this could easily result in a family with no food to eat at the end of the day or worse. Those “first responders” know all too well that their help was not just a nice thing to do, but it was vital! One day it might very well be one of them needing similar help to preserve the fragility of their family’s livelihood. If such a day should ever come, I am certain that a similar display of Good Samaritan-ship will occur.
Such is life in Haiti, as seen through my eyes!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing …………