Hal: Settling In

I’ve been gathering so much information recently my brain is swirling.  I need to let things settle out, then I can regurgitate it coherently, or at least in my own words.  Many of the things I felt and witnessed on my last trip here are proving to still hold their validity.  In many ways Haiti hasn’t really improved that much since they won the revolution in 1804.  For example; plumbing is still a foriegn idea to the majority of people here, toilets, what are THEY?, running water inside their homes, only when it rains, electricity is also unfamiliar to them, and everything that goes with it, lights, switches, all of that plus refridgeration, unheard of, all food is eaten or it spoils, fresh milk, in a box, no fresh dairy.  There are many more examples.  People come here from other parts of the world, especially the States, and they are quickly confused and angered by the Haitians dumbfounded responses to their expectations.  As the country is slowly developing the people are gradually grasping what we expect of them. 

Another part of the problem is Haiti’s educational system is lagging behind, really, the rest of the world.  Most kids don’t have the opportunity to go to school.  They start working, for example, fetching water, as soon as they can carry a bucket.  It costs money to go to school here, also they need to buy uniforms.  Many families aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from, let alone having money for school.  One of the negative by-products of this is the inability to critically think.  We take it for granted.  When we run into a problem that we don’t immediately have the answer to, we begin to think of ways to find resources to solve it.  Haitians don’t have that mindset.   As more kids are given the chance to go to school, they’ll figure out how to figure things out. 

Water is another thing we take for granted.  Most villages have a pump spigot, but it can be miles from people’s homes.  If you’ve ever lived for a time without water, you know how much energy has to be put into just getting it to the house.  Many people on Lopez remember those days.  The difference is we all knew it was temporary, for many Haitians it’s the only life they know.    If there is a river nearby everything happens there, bathing,  laundry, all garbage including dead animals, in extreme cases, humans, goes in the river.  These are examples of the inability to critically think, I think.   Another huge factor is malnutrition in the developing years. I think the key to getting along with will be patience and compassion, keep showing them the way over and over and over again.

I would  like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have supported me in these adventures of mine.  I think of all of you and really really appreciate your support, I wouldn’t and couldn’t do it without you.  Thanks, Hal