Wednesday, July 12
“May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of our life. “ Ephesian 3:17
A new adventure begins for this planned biennial year. I was not anxious for my trip but at 1:30 am I was already awake before my 2 am alarm. I tried to be as quiet as possible about my morning coffee and prayer. After my shower, I called the cab. He showed within 5 minutes and thank goodness I was ready and the bags were already outside the front door.
The driver’s name was Shawn and he is from Jamaica. I really had to hold my tongue not to say anything about his fast driving and tailgating cars. He did the route from my house to the airport in 10 minutes. There were no outside counters in operation or agent on the curb. I had to push both suitcases and carry on inside.
A traveler on the line pointed out that my bags were not tagged, I had to go to the individual kiosk to print the tags and a new boarding pass although I had checked in online. I guess that is the reason that as soon as I placed my passport in the slot, I had a boarding pass and two tags were printed. After 5 minutes on the general line, an agent informed that passengers with tagged bags could go straight to the baggage check in. That was a quick process. The bags were one 48 pounds and the other 50.5 pounds. The clerk was very courteous and asked me to proceed to the security line. I had to place the tablet and the computer in a separate bin. The agents made me wait so that one of them could have the computer unwrapped and checked with a special device. It was easy enough to re-pact I put both back in the carry on. I walked to the assigned gate it was 3:30 am. I had time to read the scripture of the day and even take a nap. I feel relaxed and walked around for a little while. Most coffee shops and food stands did not open before 4:30 am. I finally found the food court near security at the entrance to buy a bottle of water. It felt a little eerie by the gate since it was still so dark outside.
After waiting for a while, I ate some of the fruits I had brought. On the plane, I ate my sandwich. As usual the airline offered water or juice and a bag of chips/popcorn. I was feeling tired and did not read nor could not watch a movie. Even though, I had the earphones, I was unable to hear over the engine sound of the plane. The movie seem interesting it was during the war. It seems like a family was struggling for survival under the Nazis occupation… The Zookeeper’s Wife…’
The flight was pretty uneventful. We got to Haiti on time. A lady I usually meet at the security airlines, Mrs. Crevecoeur, allowed me to go to a shorter line. She is always directing traffic to the immigration officers when I travel to Haiti. Someone in the back line said that was not fair, I agreed with him on principal but still took advantage in order to get ahead to handle the phone and internet before I met the driver who was waiting for me outside. There was a long line at the Digicel counter. Domingue, who usually helps me was finally available. He said the android Alcatel phone I brought with me was not equipped with GSM to provide the internet and phone services I needed. I had to use my old box, derisively called ‘ede m peze’. Instead of paying $55 for both the internet and phone for a month, I paid $35 for 400mns. As I was leaving, the phone fell, since then it came on for a while and the signal turns off. I needed the phone to know where the driver was and now I could not call. I went back to the counter they place the sims on another phone it worked. The clerk put it back on my box, it worked for one phone call and turned off again. Just my luck!
The driver did not want to go with my suitcases to La Saline for fear of a robbery attack. He felt it was asking for trouble. We delivered the bags in La Plaine at Mr. L’s house. Then we drove to the Salesiennes’ school in La Saline. From the outside we would not know such buildings existed within. The different part of the compound seems well kept. Sr. Charitable came running out to welcome me. She was having a staff meeting before leaving for her new assignment. I was glad we found her on time to deliver the computer. She seem to be proud of the grades the students obtained. We chatted for a few minutes then we went to Avenue Christophe to wait for the ride to Anse-a-Veau. I went down Avenue Mayi past my mother’s old house to go to the Digicel store to have them look at the phone. It seems in Haiti that things degrade in some areas instead of improving. The houses are run down. The clean open space with manicured shrubs of Champs de Mars of my childhood is so different. It is now overpopulated with people, street vendors and traffic jams. There seems to be no more municipal management or local governance of public areas in a word inexistent urban planning.
At 4:30 the minibus came to bring us to Anse-a-Veau. I was happy to see Floreste as our driver as we had used him in the Renesansavo project before. The car was filled with suitcases and people. All along the ride, I was really nodding off. By 7:30 we were in Anse-a-Veau. We called Sr. Flora, the responsible of the house, to let her know we were on our way. She said she was in Port-au-Prince but Wedlene would be there to welcome me. I was so glad I was dropped first, I needed to use the restroom and stretch my legs. My suitcases would have to be dropped off later because they were below all the stuff that were being transported to town from Port-au-Prince.
I was served a supper of fried fish and plaintain. First cooked meal of the day. I requested her not to make three meals a day for me until the other guests arrived. I had asked her to sit with me to fill me in about what had happened here since my trip last year. At 9:30 pm I was in the room of the apartment outside unpacking. I was so glad I made it safely with no incident aside from the phone. The bathroom floor had been repaired and Sr. had curtains added. Thank goodness she has transformed these rooms into a welcoming apartment, she calls it la ‘petite maison’. I felt exhausted, I finally went to bed after calling home to say that I had arrived safely. I asked my husband to send a text to Omolabake to give her my new telephone number in Haiti. It rained hard with thunder and lightning throughout the night.
First night, I thank God I am here. Blessed are you, O Lord my God, maker and ruler of the universe. I am open to accomplishing what we had planned to do since New York.
Thursday, July 13
The alarm went off at 5:20 am. I stayed in bed a little longer. At 5:45, I felt it was time for me to get ready and go for coffee. I knew I was not at home, so I had to actually get dressed and ready before going to the main building’s dining room. After coffee, I walked out the gate to go to church at 6 am as I was told but the church was closed. I decided to walk around town as people were awakening. I went down the cathedral’s step toward the square. I pass by the only hotel—La Difference—in the direction of the water then turn left at the end of the block in the direction of the Frères old school house building. There were many stray dogs in the street. Although scrawny, they looked menacing and rabid to me. I saw a young boy down the road, I asked if they were wild. He answered they will not do you harm, they are roaming to probably find some food. I felt a little more confident to continue my stroll but was ready to scream if they approached too close. A few street vendors were setting up shop by the prison/commissariat. I decided to go all the way downtown by the ocean. I took the road to the steps and passed by Mr. L.’s house. I continued until the road stopped abruptly into the ocean bank. I saw a fisherman by a house on the side of the water. I asked him if he were not afraid the houses on that side would be washed away into the deep if there were a flood. He answered that is a risk we are willing to take. He explained that when they see the water rushing or a heavy storm is brewing, they take refuge on the side of the mountain. This is a risky and unpredictable way of living.
From within I felt an urge to express a desire to learn about the life of a fisherman in town as I am interested in community development. He said if I returned at 3 pm, he would be willing to go on a fishing run with me. I got a little scared but felt that I had an opportunity to learn about another sector of the population. I asked his name and promised that I would be back. I continued on the short cut path to the bottom of the church and as I got inside the mass was just beginning. I called this a God intervention moment. This was not part of the planned activities for this year’s biennial festival but a welcome learning experience.
After the liturgy, I went to the rectory to talk to Fr. Louis. On my way in I met a young American missionary, Nicole, who had come to do ministry. Fr. Louis understands the need for us to meet with him and the bishop to discuss what we had planned for this year and what we would still need to accomplish in preparation for the 2021 300th year anniversary. He promised to follow-up with the bishop and get back to me.
When I went back to the house I had a breakfast of fruits, avocado, ham, and spaghetti. I told Wedlene not to cook again for lunch time that I will eat the pasta then. I visited the house to see all the accommodations being planned for the guests. Then I walked to EPSA to meet with the custodian to prepare for the retreat day for the Renesansavo participants this upcoming Friday. It took me a little while to locate him and he seemed to be surprised. He had no idea that I was to use the rooms in the facility but he was willing to devote time with me to get them ready. I was taken aback by this. For the past six months, I have been communicating with the former priest in charge and talked to him two weeks ago on the phone about the planned day of July 14. Fr. Louis had given me names of people to contact to co-teach with me on Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. Fr. E. had not advised the custodian nor his replacement director about this upcoming event. I asked the custodian to give me access to the storage area to find out what I could use from what I had saved from the previous years. I found the first aid kit I had prepared using the SJU bags, the first year uniforms. I got the utensils, plates, cups, and towels that I took with me to the house.
On the way back on the pathway, I met Jean Marie, a participant, and asked him to let others from the group know about the day of retreat and also the change of venue. I told him I had put the sign with this information on the bulletin board of the school. At the house, I called Wedlene and Kettely and explained that we would be doing the retreat here. It would be easier for them to serve the food they were preparing for the day. I immediately went into action to get the room for presentation ready. I had brought with me table cloth, colorful napkins, plastic forks, knives, and decoration. I would set the tables as I had done for the catechists in NY. After lunch, I walked downtown to the shore to meet Jean Vanel by the fishermen’s hut. The boat had gone out earlier and we had to wait. I sat down with a group of various ages fishermen repairing their nets. I asked them about their lives and needs in the area. Jean Vanel’s father, Jean Claude, and another man, Alex, who was described as the co-director of the fisherman’s association were giving their opinion and the lack of cooperation between the different entities in the town, the religious and civil authorities. I shared with them the purpose of Renesansavo and was glad to be talking to them. After this enlightening conversation, I went to Mr. Labissiere’s house further down the road. I relayed my talk with the fishermen and how we could integrate them in the plan for the biennial festival schedule. They confided that they might have to cancel their cultural day at the beach with the sale of their signature food of vegetable and all types of sea products (bouillon maren). Would CORA be able to loan them the funds for this event? He was very receptive of this idea. He too felt the movement to be open to the Spirit’s directive of inclusiveness in areas we had not planned. Mrs. Leblanc came to drop some items at his house and she drove me back uptown to the house. I prepared a few items for the next day. Feeling exhausted after a jam-packed day of activities, I went to bed.
Friday, July 14
I had a fitful night. There was a quick rain with thunder and lightning very early in the morning. After coffee, I cleaned the folding tables with seats that lined the outside gallery. Then I set the tables once and for all for lunch. It looked pretty colorful. I hoped there would be no wind to disturb the tables. I attended mass and quickly afterwards fixed the classroom with the chairs in a circle as I usually do.
I had prayed months before coming here for the participants and the town. I prayed quickly: “Lord don’t let my shortcomings be an impediment to my willingness to be used to make an impact for your Glory.”
There was no electricity in that room, I could not show the power point on ‘systemic change’ I had prepared and translated from the Vincentian site. I heard some participants come and leave while I was setting up. At 8:40 I sat in the front gallery. Bechie saw me and she came to help me with the name badges and raffle tickets to be given out. I had three prizes in US #1-$15, #2-$10, #3-$5. The people who came after 11:00 am would not be included in this raffle. It is an incentive for participation and those who came on time. By 9:30 am I had chocolate and bread served and encouraged conversation among those who were present. At 9:45 am we moved to the classroom, sang our invocation song: “Toujou Pare Pou Fè sa ki Bon” (always ready to do what is good). We prayed and Witterson did the deep breathing exercise. The few new members who came introduced themselves and mentioned which group had invited them. Mr. Jean Renel Jean-Baptiste, associate director of Caritas, had come in while we were praying. I had him introduce himself and give an overview of his responsibility in the diocese. I asked the participants what they knew about the word ‘collaboration’. We were running late on the agenda, I did not do the exercised we had done in Rome. I explained the word and the Vincentian ideal of Collaboration in their context. I divided them into small group where I included an individual from each different team. They had 15 minutes to discuss how they could apply this concept in their Renesansavo community development projects. After they all returned to the large group and shared in concrete ways how their team would work with another and learn from each other to be more successful both individually and collectively.
After a few minutes for a break, we discussed systemic change. What do they think this means? I gave the example of the gospel passage of the Good Samaritan. I elicited the meaning from them. I asked them to think of their projects and discover what would be the root problems in accomplishing them. What kind of attitude would each person need to achieve the changes necessary to reverse some of the problems which cause dire situations? The need to find common ground, make ourselves available through listening and sharing of hopes, dreams, concerns, frustrations so that we can journey together allowing ourselves to influence each other for mutual growth.
Afterwards, we went to the lunch area to view Myriam’s video. It was clear but we did not have high enough volume, we could not hear in the open space. I had the participants talk among themselves while we were waiting for lunch. We had vegetable salad, shredded cabbage and carrots, fried chicken, plaintain, rice and beans. For drinks I served cokes, sprite, 7 up, and water. After lunch we went over the festival agenda for individuals and teams to decide where they would like to contribute their services. We proceeded to do the raffle. The 3rd price was won by a newcomer, the second prize by Milio, and the 1st prize by Claudette. Well done. The winners of 2nd and 1st prizes are hard workers, I am glad for them. While we were in the afternoon session, a participant who came during lunch wanted to know if the participants were going to receive a stipend. I said no because I provided breakfast and lunch and we also had a raffle. He mentioned the he had “inconvenienced” himself and had left another event to be here and he had spent 50 gdes for transportation. I said I am sorry you had to spend that money. We will defray it for you ask Mr. Labissiere to give it to you when he returns to the room. Another participant got angry that I said to see someone else to give him the money. I said it is because Mr. Labissiere handles the money for the project. The one who had mentioned money said I don’t want people to talk for me. This caused some friction. I said let us move on to the next item on the agenda. I felt shocked and sad for both these participants. One feeling he was entitled to compensation, the other for his remonstrance that I was demeaning a person by offering to give that money back to him. A few minutes later, the person who had requested transportation money came to me and asked for my telephone number. I gave it to him and said softly to him while someone else was talking that I am sorry if I had said something to offend him but I understood that he does not work and this was a sacrifice. Then he left. He had not done 2 hours with us.
After everyone had left, the personnel and I put everything away. I chatted with them for a few minutes to get their evaluation of the service they had provided for the day. Then I picked up some cherries in the yard to bring to the fisherman who wanted some. Kettely and I walked to his house to deliver the bag of fruits. I met his wife, sister, mom, and kids.
Then I continued to Labissiere’s house a few house from Jean Vanel’s but on the other side of the road (mountain side). Some youngsters had come to inventory the barrels and priced some of the items we had shipped to prepare for the flea market. Each of them had prepared a personal bag with items they feel they would want to buy for themselves. There were many items that were not slated for the flea market, they had put them away for purchase. I had to let them know that the toys were for the preschool, the kitchen items for the cooking classes, the sewing materials for the sewing classes, some of the sheets were to be used to welcome our visitors.
After I was in bed, I realized I had dropped an envelope with $50 that I had prepared for the speaker who had refused it and given back to us as well as the USB with CORA’s files that were in my pants pocket. Kettely, had picked up the USB. She thought it was part of the barrels stuff. She returned it to me. Then I had to call Mr. Labissiere to tell him that the enveloped with the money was somewhere in his house.
What a day. Anticipation, hard work, conflict, teaching, learning, lost, sharing—a day filled with highs and lows. Question: am I where I am supposed to be?
Saturday, July 15 I waited in bed until 6 am. Then got ready to go to mass. Fr. Louis was the celebrant today. After mass, he said the laud with the few people in attendance. We chatted for a few minutes. I wanted to ask for his participation for the festival. I updated him on the fishermen’s contact. He too had reached out to them. They attend the 5 pm mass on Sundays that is scheduled just for them. I borrowed a computer from Wedlene to type the letter to the MPCE to start the process of recognition of CORA in Haiti. I wanted to update the festival schedule as well. I went to Fr. Louis next door to print the letter so that I could give it to Joanne. While we were there Fr. Louis showed us the constructions he is doing in the Carine Bastien’s Hall, the kitchen, and the apartments for ministry families. At the house, Alex of St Isidio, came to talk to me about the original plan we had for La Salle Paroisiale. I explained my view about the space. I don’t believe people should be in the mud, especially the children. We had that space cleaned out when we started the project in 2014. It improved slightly — animals are not roaming as much and the weeds and garbage are more in control. As a facility of the church, it should be clean to show our concern for human dignity. Currently, a group of youth sell food and beverage there while playing loud music. There should be a fence, the main cracked wall repaired, the tin roof overhauled and the facility should have a nice fresh coat of paint. First world, third world, the Haiti of my childhood use to pride itself for cleanliness. Organization wanting to work in Haiti should budget money for managing garbage (jere fatra), maintenance of facilities besides doing the work they intend to do. Jean Vanel called for me to come for the boat ride around 4 pm. Mr. Labissiere and I waited about an hour before the boat came back. Wedlene had come with me too. Last year when we wanted to go to I’ile a Vache, she was crying and throwing a tantrum in fear of the boat and deep water. Now she was serene and collected and ready to enjoy this ride over the ocean. We went into deep see. A fisherman went under water to see about the catch of the day. He found two medium size fish. We went to Bichotte and stop at another alcove to pick up some of the rocks. The fishermen gave Wedlene the fish as a gift.
Mr. Batraville dropped us at the house. He had brought the phone his daughter had bought for me. I could not use the internet as she had use a new gmail account she had created for that purpose. Mrs. Leblanc’s son help me get the hotspot to use with my NY phone. The CIMS gave me problem on and off on my box I had to use someone else’s. In the evening, it poured again a lot with lightning and thunder.
Sunday, July 16
I woke up early but stayed in bed and prayed quietly there. This is quite a departure from my usual routine at home. I go downstairs in the kitchen to pray and go over the readings and commentary from Word Among Us and the Magnificat. I also had to use a pitcher to pour the water over me to shower. This is a great reminder how grateful I am for these commodities I take for granted in the States. I went to the dining room for coffee and a small toasted bread prepared by the cook. I am happy for the service but I like preparing for myself certain things and not be dependent completely on the help.
At 8 o’clock I went next door for the mass. By 8:15 I realized it would not begin before 8:30 or 9 am. I went to the room to get my Word Among Us which had an article on the Eucharist. There were only a handful of people in the church. The priest began mass a little after 9 am. The generator was not working and they had to find alternative to provide sound in this cathedral. Msgr. Louis invited parents seeking baptism for their children and the RCIA candidates to remain after mass for a short meeting. I felt the urge to ask him to let me do a presentation to the parents seeking baptism for their children. He accepted and told me to come back on Monday afternoon for that.
At the house, I used the hotspot from the new phone to face time my daughter from my Ipad. Milio, one of the participants in the program, came to ask about information for his mother’s house. He wanted to know if she would qualify to get assistance as he is not working and there were several problems with her place. I did not know the criteria for the people involved in this process. The plumber also came to give me an estimate for the repairs to be done in the bathroom. I could not agree to anything as Sister must approve any work to be done. Floreste, the driver, came to deliver the barrel from Florida prepared by Evelyne with sewing materials for the scouts.
I wanted to clean the kitchen in preparation of the arrival of our guests. I asked for cleaning products such as Ajax, the personnel did not know what that was. While we were planning to have supper the nuns came from Port-au-Prince.—Sisters Flora and Mirlene. We had a beautiful welcome and talked for a while. Sr, Flora brought a grilled closet to store the vegetables and other food items to prevent access to rodents. By 8 pm there was a strong wind blowing, I ran around the gallery to anchor down and put away any item that could fly away. The rain began I rushed to the apartment outside before it poured down so heavily with winds howling. All the curtains and rods had come down in the adjoining room. While talking on the phone with Milio to come for a day to give us a hand to get the place ready for the guests, the rod and curtain above my bed hit me in the head. At first, I got really scared before I knew what it was. I read a little using the lantern then decided to sleep and conserve energy.
Monday, July 17
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking if we were on track of making a difference. It was no doubt but how and what to do to achieve the goal of implanting change and improvement to the town. But are the young people really committed to act? Do they fill empowered to do so? If these ideas are from God, I should just follow what comes.
“For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth”. Is 55:10-11
At 5:30 am, I decided to pray and read scriptures of the day with my books. As it was still dark, I used my little flashlight. I felt at peace and it seems that I dozed off until 6:30. I got out of bed, dressed, and went to the main house. I met the sisters and we prayed the Laude. (I had left my breviary in the room) I just listened and participated softly in known hymns or prayers. We had breakfast of boiled plantains and liver in sauce, coffee.
Milio and his cousin came today to move the benches, and other stuff from the gallery to the school area. By 11 am it seems we had been working for a whole day. I gave them a stipend as they worked hard to clear everything from the living area to the school area.
I opened the barrel from Florida and sorted them—sewing materials, food, kitchen and flea market items. We gathered a lot for the sewing and kitchen classes. I sure hope these projects would materializes soon. The soccer group telephoned thinking we had brought something for them. Labissiere gave the fishermen the gas money and the loan, we will have only to pay the fare and buy the bouillon.
The scout, Mr. Paul Gustin, came to pick-up the cloth for the scout uniforms as well as the buttons, zippers, and threads. He asked if we could give him money to buy the green cloth for the kerchief. He would also need the emblem.
An old man, Mr. Monfort Dupre, came to ask the sisters for assistance. His wife had died and his son had recently passed away. He has no job. The nun prepared a bag of rice for him. I gave him a few gourdes for transportation. He came from so far to get so little help. In Haiti there is no structure to take care of the elderly (no social security, no Medicaid, no organized private charity for elderly care even if they worked all their lives).
I visited the two young ladies doing the flea market on the square. They were packing the merchandize. I helped them carry it back to Mr. L. house as they had to use two motor cycles to carry the bags. Going back to the house I use the pathway up the mountain called Nan Kwa to go up town. Since hurricane Matthew, it seemed worse to climb, there is a crater on its side, and the path is filled with weed and fallen rock. I climbed anyway. I saw a man who was trying to go down. When I got to the town I saw a group of people sitting around. I asked what happened. They said the mayor is not doing anything to improve this needed pathway to shorten our travels from uptown to downtown. I wanted to asked then “what are you doing?”. I immediately realize the power of organizing is not an easy task when you have no means or tools.
I tried to use the new purchased BLU phone. However, I still have a lot to learn to use it properly. I started to read the document given to me by Jackson about 2021 agenda for Anse-à-Veau. I felt so busy I don’t remember much of the day. Because of the novena to St. Anne, mass prayers were done at 7:30 pm. After church, I felt so sleepy, I went to bed early.
Tuesday, July 18
Having no mass in the morning, I prayed in my room before going for coffee. The sisters had almost finished with their morning prayers. Jackson came early, he wanted to know what was the budget for the Thursday opening event on the square. I said we did not have one except the materials we had bought such as the balls and the tools. I asked if he could propose one as he is the one coordinating these activities. After breakfast, I helped Sr. Mirlene to clean and fix the rooms for the guests. Jackson came back with the librarian with a budget of $525 US to rent a sound systems, give refreshments to the participating groups, then give each group an allocation for presenting. I said it was too much money. He also had a list he said of the people to distribute the balls to.
Fr. Enel came to visit and I explained my disappointment that the custodian was not made aware that we were going to have a retreat day at EPSA on the 14th. I had to change the venue the last minute giving me a small span of time to clean and make preparation for that day. He apologized for not following up with Fr. Junior and the custodian.
After the cleaning of the 3 bedrooms and the 2 bathrooms, we fixed the beds until 5 pm. Sr. Mirlene and I change shirts, got our hats to go to the hospital to find out if everything was set for the medical fair. Then we planned to go to Ti Barcadere to see the state of the beach.
We met the Cubans stationed at the hospital who could not communicate with us in Kreyòl nor in English with me. They called a Haitian Dr., Gerald, for us. He was very courteous but he said he and the crew had no idea of what we were talking about neither did the Cubans although I told him the administrator was aware of this. Dr. Gerald called Dr. Lamarre, the medical coordinator who gave me an appointment for the next day at 9 am. Thank goodness I had gone to check with the center, I had assumed that everything was taken care of through the Haiti committee.
Sr. Mirlene and I continued to the beach area. The road was worst then we had known it two years ago. It had a big rut. No car or moto could go this way. Beside these holes, there were some pile of garbage in some areas and lots of weeds. There were more benches than when we had put in 2015. The shore is still rocky and the side basin of water were filled with garbage. I really would not bring any guests here unless an effort is made to have it cleaned. Sr. Mirlene and I had to run back as it was getting time for evening mass and prayers. Fr. Jean Julien Almonacy was the celebrant. As a preacher he walked the isle and tried to get in people’s face with his messages. He conducted the novena and adoration time. After church, I noticed that Omolabake had tried to communicate with me. I called Mr. L. to agree on the expenses for the opening of the festival and the hospital situation. I read and prayed. I had difficulty sleeping as I learned there was a man among the four guest students. I had only prepared one room for them. I had to reorganize within the five rooms I had. Sr. Flora also had two guests coming at the same time.
Wednesday, July 19
I felt I had hardly slept. After prayer and getting dressed , I could not wait any longer to get some coffee. I needed to do some calls before going to the meeting. I called Jackson to tell him how much we could afford and I wrote the amount on the original proposal. I called the historical site team to clear/clean the calvaire, the round about, and remove the weeds and paint them before St. Anne’s feast or tomorrow if available. The paint would be arriving from Port-au-Prince. I already had the working gloves for them. I arrived at the hospital at 9:05 am. Dr. Gerald told me the director was on his way, he encountered some delays. I continued to make calls that needed to be made while waiting. When Dr. Lamarre arrived, we went to his office. While there, the representative of CORA Haiti, Me Edeve, came. I had called him to remind him of this meeting. He thought it was for 10 not 9. We agreed the fair ‘klinik mobil’ would be for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 am to 4 pm. In this the doctor was in agreement with Ms. Omolabake, the team leader from the US. He said that the hospital request 25 gdes (about 40 cents) per patient. Omolabake was adamant, she has done other missions in Nigeria and Haiti. She did not want the patient charged any fees. The doctor explained that they needed water for the hospital and this is a way to get it with the money. I promised that CORA would pay the 3,000 gallon water truck to bring the water. Omolabake wanted two doctors, a nurse, and an assistant nurse beside the two assistants from the university, the Dr. from Jacmel, and our two English/Kreyòl translators. I mentioned that the Doctors, the nurse, and assistant would get a stipend. While in his office, he got an emergency call to manage the accident of two motorcycles about 4 to 6 individuals critically wounded, one with serious head trauma. He had to go place the staff on alert for the emergency mostly the Cubans.
After we left the hospital, Edeve and I went to the mayor’s office. He was not there but his director called him and he came to meet me. I talked about the plans we had for the upcoming week, the complaints I had heard about certain issues. He also shared some of his ideas for the town and its environment. I hope they come to fruition. He mentioned how he is trying to attend all the meetings pertaining to funding and political decisions about administration of towns. He was called several times on the phone. After 15 minutes we left. He is my husband’s cousin. I got to the place called Sky by the Degrammond. Ken said why is CORA here only around St. Anne’s feast day. Where is the work to be done by the people? I wondered the same thing. Should I be content in planting only the seed? How do I let go and let God act. These young people were questioning the attitude of the older people in town. Some believed in the mayor some were not on his camp.
I walked around town a bit then went to the house. The ideal is whatever is being taught or planned, maintenance must be included. Made a few call to motivate the young people to participate in the activities. Updated the scheduled agenda to give to Fr. Louis for announcements.
On my way to church, Jackson came to talk to me to follow-up on his planning for the Thursday opening event. He said that he knew I blamed him for not follow-up of Renesansavo as he is the leader of the group. He wanted to know the source of funding for this project. He would like us to be more transparent in our planning and budgeting efforts. I said he would be welcome and I would show him the financial sheets for this program. We have no government or foundation grant. Fr. Enel was there but it was late and he needed to return to his parish in Fonds-des-Negres. At mass, Fr. Louis made the announcement for CORA.
Thursday, July 20
I got up early to consolidate my suitcase and my move from this room leaving it for the male guest. I like my space here that’s why I had contributed to the completion of the work. A welcoming area should be beneficial for both the guests and the host. Having electricity and running water when the tank is filled are essential commodities for our guests. I got the balls, pumps, and gloves ready to be delivered to the groups. I tried to call Anelio to borrow the tools for doing the clean-up but he did not answer. I went to the rectory to get the priests to find people to do the divine mercy chant to go to town. I asked some of the ladies cleaning the church to come and sing with us later. Sr. Mirlene did a tape for me singing the chaplet of Divine Mercy. The ladies liked the tune and wording and sang it with great joy. Jackson came to pick up the soccer balls. I showed him the Renesansavo financial records as well as CORA’s annual report in the fund raising journal. I made an effort to continue reading the document, Agenda 21, Jackson gave me the plans to transform the town. By 4:30 I went to the quarters to get ready to go the church. My daughter is one month older then Sr. Mirlene and I noticed some similarities in their attitudes. She does not show when she is not happy about a situation, she stalls her activities. Different ways of acting when facing directives. I brought the rosaries that were given to me by Marie Therese G. to be distributed to the people who would participate in reciting or singing the chaplet of Divine Mercy with us. There were several members of a choir ready to practice for today’s mass. We tried to teach and practice the chaplet with them, they hardly wanted to participate. The young girls who were to go on the three different roads singing and to join us on the square did not show up. At 5:30 I decided to do the chaplet asking for mercy right here, right now with those who wanted. I had to coax some people in the back again waiting to practice with their group until the members of their group showed up. Those who came forward got a rosary then we sang the chaplet in French and in Kreyol. Both Sr. Mirlene and Abstinade led the prayer. After we were done in church, I walked to the square where the opening event was to be held. There were a few people around. As the evening progressed, a few more people strolled in. Jean Marie was the MC for the evening. He was enthusiastic and the speakers were LOUD. He made the public respond after each performance. Using the term: pla w, pla aw we had experience Carole and I at another show. The librarian and her dance group performed first, then there were the karate camp that make a demonstration in formation. I lost my phone. I could not locate it. It was announced. When they described how a blu box which had its cover being held with a rubber band, the young people laughed and said we don’t need to waste time looking for that. The phone was not mine and my sims with quite an amount of minutes was in it. I was so glad to have found it by the house when I returned there. The soccer balls were not distributed, the Depozouti was not announced and I had to rush away with these item and the t-Shirts to wait for Mr. Labissiere outside the square and the gyrating crowd. The show on the square lasted about 2 hours. I had to insist three times before the medical fair was announced.
When I got to the house, I called home. I just wanted to hear the familiar voice of my loved ones. I refused questions to enter my mind. I did not feel that was such a positive event! Things happened that were not necessarily planned or desired. I felt disappointed to have paid for an event which did not bring the effect and result desired.
I could hear my first son’s voice say: “how do you feel?” For months the NY committee and I had planned, talked, and discussed this and the outcome was just unproductive. The image that came to mind was: you see the need for a nice pot, you polish it, you describe its purpose and as you hand it over to the person to handle it on the other end it is dropped and it falls shattering to pieces.
Friday, July 21
I got ready and went to the gallery to wait for the Renesansavo people in order to clean and paint the Calvaire and roundabout. I waited for a while to find the tools necessary. I went to the church that was being painted and asked if the workers had any paint roller handle or old brushes. [For the first world people, there is no 99c store or small hardware store in town.]
Jeff and Tiloup, the carpenter and plumber working with the church, were there. I asked if they could spare one or two young people working in the church to volunteer to help in the painting we had to do as the Calvaire is a historical church property. By mid-morning, about eight youngsters showed up. I asked Claudette, the leader of the team, to organize the crew and show them the work to be done. I headed to EPSA looking for the custodian of the university to get the machetes we had left with him in the previous years. Along the way I borrowed two brooms. Everyone started cutting away the weeds around the benches, and we organized the sweeping, and scraping before the painting. The youngsters decided to change the colors of the borders as they had painted them white by mistake. Fortunately, we found a place that had some paint for sale. We got blue. They repainted the calvaire white and blue. The iron benches were given a fresh coat of oil base green. I asked some members of the team to go finish the roundabout in bright yellow so that cars can notice it. We really need some reflectors or fluorescent light because there is no light in that area at night. I had one of the members get them water as it was getting hot. Then I walked back and forth getting some other cold sodas as they requested. I started with 8 youngsters. When they came to me for some type of compensation there were about 12. I offered them 50 gourdes each for their volunteering efforts. (a soda is about half that). They snubbed me and said they did not want anything and left a little angry. Originally, I wanted to give them each $1us but someone had told me where are they going to exchange it. I told Jeff about it. He said that is OK I just spent about $7 us to give them drinks. I told him I had done so already. The oldest of the group came back to me and said give me $1 for each person but we were 12. I gave $20us to cover their request and pay what Jeff had said he had spent. I have to remember that the word VOLUNTEER does not exist in their vocabulary. They returned the rest of the paint without cover and the brushes unwashed. Some of the Renesansavo participants came to collect their transportation money requested as promised. Jackson came to ask me what I had agreed to pay for last night event although he was not there. I told him. He argued I had promised more. If there are no jobs, the people are on survival mode. Everything is SHOW ME THE MONEY.
This is what I need to keep in mind: “What do you possess that you have not received.” 1 cor 4:7
Sister has a large meeting room in the back as part of the school. Workers were preparing the room to welcome the president of Haiti who had to come and meet some leaders of the area. The room was packed with chairs some broken and of all type. I told the workers, if the president is coming, we should remove broken chairs or the folding chairs without back rests. Beside the center aisle there should be one on each side of the room for ease of access and traffic. I arranged some chairs next to the table were the president was to sit in a circle. I found out there was a small storage room right behind him. I had them clear a passage in there in case there would be a need to evacuate quickly. I tried to ensure there would be exits also in the back for emergency access.
I go do some activities when I return all the chairs are placed back in the room, now there were chairs all along the table where the president is to seat with the chairs facing the public. And the escape door is blocked by chairs. Security and occupancy are words I am aware of due to the number of events we organized and demonstrations I participated in the US. But here these terms mean absolutely nothing. The cars are overloaded. The boys laughed at me in the church because I cautioned them about danger when they were climbing to the roof with no rope for safety—no safety belt, no helmet… Bondye Bon! God is GOOD.
I went to church late. I really felt I was a world apart from where the people are. My way of seeing has been warped/skewed. My reality is different than theirs. How can I plan or want to act if we are so far apart? Who has to change? I feel that I am in the twilight zone!
Saturday, July 22
I woke up cleaned the room, the bathroom, and showered and went for coffee. The president of Haiti was supposed to be at the Salesians’ conference room around 10 am. At 8:30 am one of the authorities wanted the room to have less seats because they did not expect 250 people for the 250 chairs. I gave him a hand although I was still annoyed from what was done yesterday. Labissiere came to pick me up to go to Brossard although I thought it was supposed to be 10. I gave him the few items I had for the Petits Frères and told him I would not be going anymore. I planned to go look at the 6 weddings that were planned to be done at 12 noon.
Sr. Mirlene and I finished setting up and cleaning the room for our guests. I went to EPSA to borrow the bucket with a faucet to place in the kitchen. I had to clean it thoroughly. While doing that, I heard that the president was not coming anymore because his helicopters had some mechanical failure. I had to go get the fans we had lent from the rooms to put back where they belong. I helped Sr. finalize a letter then the young men came back to get the rest of the paint supposedly to finish the job they started yesterday.
At 12:15 I walked over to the church and waited for the couples to arrive. At 1:50 I went back to the house to get lunch. The wedding had not yet started. Maddie, a photographer on mission in Haiti, was taking pictures. She has been in the country for the past 2 weeks at the Jean Paul II Center.
At 4 pm I called to find out if Danielle and Carlo were already picked up and on their way to the airport to pick up Omolabake and Leah who were supposed to be there at 3:30 pm. They were still waiting to be picked up. I was mad. This was a simple instruction. Pick Carlo and Danielle at 3 pm and be at the airport by 3:30 pm. Omolabake had arrived and there was no one as planned to welcome her. I called Sr. Martha in Tabarre to try to appease the guests for me. I lost all my telephone minutes while trying to get the driver to be at the airport. When this airport drama was unfolding, I was supposed to be visiting a Karate school on the road to TiBarcadere. I had to apologize that I could not give them my full attention in trying to solve this crisis. They wanted to show me their future plan for expansion in helping youngsters not only in sport but in academic as well.
A porter at the airport was calling me and talking to Omolabake until they were picked up an hour and half later. Mr. Batraville is usually on time I could not understand of all days this lateness from him. The time was given to Mr. Labissiere months ahead and reiterated days before. These are the type of things that make me cringe. Jackson came to give me a copy of the receipt for Thursday event. I waited on the gallery for the visitors to come. I saw a car, I started to clap welcome, welcome but it was not them. It was Kim and Catherine arriving as Sisters guests. My guests finally arrived around 9 pm. I could hardly talked to Mr. Batraville, I was still embarrassed for not being there on time to welcome them. I introduced them to the house. Leah’s suitcase was locked and she could not find the key. Johanne came to say hello and helped Carlo and Labissiere break the lock open for her. Omolabake complained about the roads but she felt better being here. She showered in my quarters as the house work was not completed. We chatted for a while and ate the bouillon. During the night the electricity went off. This is the first time that happened since I have been here. How unfortunate, the first night that our guests had come. An animal was groaning in the night causing the dogs to bark and howl. Praise be to God they are safely here. Finally, I slept in the morning.
Sunday, July 23
I woke up at 6 am finally got dressed and went for coffee. The personnel was getting ready for all of us for breakfast. We had 6 people overnight beside me and the two sisters. At 8:15 I went to church, there was no one there. I went back and forth to let the people know that the ceremony had not yet started. All the guests came and a few minutes later the mass started. I was enjoying the homily but I had to lead two of my guests to the house. They are not Catholic and do not understand the language being they are Nigerian Americans. After mass, I had breakfast and offered my guests to walk around town with them. We stopped at the hospital and talked to Dr. Gerald. We went downtown and talked to the head fisherman. We also stopped at Labissiere’s house. There I saw the driver and said how sorry I was for being mad for his lateness in picking up our guests. That is where Dr. Elizabeth Brea from FONDWA met us. We continued to Mr. Larionne’s House. Dr. Brea asked him where her grandparents’ lived. He showed her the location and where they moved after hurricane Hazel destroyed their home. When we got home after the walk it was 2:50 pm. We had lunch: rice and beans, shredded cabbage, beets/carrot salad, chicken and a type of lasagna. To top it we had cherry confection for desert the tree outside. After talking for a while the driver came to pick us up to bring us to the beach in Madian called—Plaj Lakay. We spent a few hours there. On our way back we stopped at Manolo’s inn where Danielle wanted to buy a beer. For supper we had porridge and we all had an early night in.
Monday, July 24
Finally, woke up at 5 am and prayed, showered, dressed before going to the dining room for coffee. I organized the room where I slept to help welcome the young man who is in Omolabake’s team. I’ll put all my stuff in the adjoining room. Dr. Brea (Babeth), Omolabake, Leah and I went to the hospital to finalize everything for Tuesday and Wednesday. On our way we saw Marie Ange Malebranche and she began to talk to Babeth about family and genealogy tree. Omolabake and Danielle used Sister’s car and driver to go to Port-au-Prince to buy medication and pick up the team at the airport. Leah and Carlo worked on counting medications. Dr. Brea and I went to the cemetery to locate her grandma’s tombstone as well as my father in law’s. When I got to the house I ate something quickly and went to get dressed before going next door to do baptismal preparation with the parents seeking the sacrament for their children. There were only a few people. I made sure I assembled all the symbols for the ceremony of baptism on the table and began at 2:30 pm. It was difficult to get them involved, to choose a symbol and tell me what they thought it meant after I explained what symbols meant using the Haitian Flag. I mentioned that baptism is one of the initiation sacraments to become a member of the body of Christ and the church. This make us adoptive children of God. I stressed the commitment they are taking to establish a personal relationship with Jesus and sharing it with their children. I emphasized the deep unconditional love of Christ who incarnated and died for each and all of us on the cross. I reviewed the creed in five points. I highlighted Jesus two commands which fulfill the 10 commandments: to love God above everything and our neighbors as ourselves in the context of our own Haitian prejudices. I shared some of my favorite scriptures passages: Jesus giving us his mission statement in the Temple in Nazareth (Lk4); Washing of the disciple’s feet; (John 13); the judgement day (Matthew 25). I did my best using the brochure I had prepared with Bishop Sansaricq when I used to do this presentation in Cambria Heights. It took me about ninety minutes. I felt a fleeting inner joy for having shared my faith with the parents. I could have done more if I had a singer with me to grab their attention while presenting and exchanging with them.
I called for the priest to continue with the meeting about the requirements for baptism in this parish. The parents got angry because they said no one told them when they registered that they had to bring proof that the god parents were baptized and confirmed Catholics. I told them it was not a rule made only by this parish but it is a requirement of the universal church. Wow I almost experienced a smack down. Thank goodness I could slip away and let the people of the parish get the heat. My job as Director of Religious Education (DRE) back in the US is a breeze. I know I am a stickler for rules and paperwork, I would have had that paperwork done long before the day of the baptism. Later in the afternoon, Dr. Brea and I met with a drummer called Roland Joseph di TiRoro who played the 12 different rhythms on the drum for us. He also had his 11 year old student, Tamarre Andre, dance a piece for us.
In the evening we waited impatiently to hear from Danielle, Omolabake and the 4 others. They arrived at 9:30 pm. They ate and I showed them around. Then I went to sleep in a bed in the servants’ room. Let us praise God with hearts and voices!
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
After a steamy, uncomfortable, sleepless night. I got up at 5 am went to the outside quarter for my shower then came back to the main area to ensure everything would be okay for everyone. Omolabake came to finalize some activities. Beside the 2 sisters, there were the nine of us plus 2 other Americans, Sister Flora’s guests. I had to make sure everyone were ready and we left the house at 8:15 to reach the health center. I had to meet with Dr. L. to give him the money for the truck of 3,000 gallon of water for the facility. I was going from station to station making sure things were running smoothly–nurses, assistant nurses, patients, doctors, pharmacy, and translators. I had to go to the house to get cool drinking water for the team. After their day, everyone came to eat and freshen up. We did a tour of the town and downtown to the boat. We took a ride from the fishermen’ place into deep sea around town to Tibarcadere beach. We paid the entrance fee per person and the boat ride—not surprising the charge was doubled for us after we got there. I wonder sometimes if it is worth our personal sacrifice of time and of our hard earned money when we feel being taken advantage of. I also bought some ‘bouillon maren’ for supper in support of the fishermen traditional fund raiser. It was made of vegetable and all type of sea food. The boat brought us back downtown. While on the deep sea I thought how majestic God was in his magnificent nature. I enjoyed the palpable tranquility and the motion of the water. I imagined Jesus and Peter on the water. There were different size houses on the side of the mountain facing the water. There also was garbage hanging from the historical Dartiguenave’s house ruin going into the water—a blatant disregard for the marine life below. Then we all walked back going pass the cemetery to the house. We ate supper then stayed around the table and had a conversation about the day and our experiences so far. Thank goodness for some generous people who selflessly give of themselves such as this team to restore our faith in humanity.
Wednesday, July 26
Woke up early enough. It is the feast day. I wore a dress to go to mass later. I went next door to say good morning to Archbishop Wensky of Miami, Florida and Bishop Dumas of the Nippes. Then I went to the Health center to ensure everyone had what they needed for the day. Check all the stations – waiting room, intake, doctors’ consultation rooms, and pharmacy. We ran out of plastic bags for the medicine. I ran back to the house to get a ream of paper to do small bags. After that I went to church for mass, they were doing the universal prayers when I got there. I missed the homily. The Archbishop was the main celebrant and he did everything in Kreyol. He was acknowledged as the first Haitian Bishop for his love for the Haitian People. In his final comments he hinted at using the language for everyone to understand and appreciate. I clapped so hard others had to join in. I said hello to some dignitaries as they were leaving church but ran back to the health center. There were less people today about 85+ versus the 115 of yesterday. Some patients became very agitated because it was taking too long to get the prescriptions filled. We tried to have them wait inside not to line up in the sun but they taught we were forgetting about them or give their place to someone else. After everything was done I had to meet the administrator to give him the stipends. He thought the amount we said was per day not for the two days. He said there were three doctors although we had asked for two and a nurse and an assistant. We had to pay the 25gds per patient although we had bought the water. I felt ashamed as a negotiator. I understand the Haitian doctors misunderstood what was said although I thought I was clear. This medical team paid their trip, their food and lodging, the medication, and had to pay the doctors, nurse, nurse assistants, and the hospital in addition. That is an outrage but I tried to keep my calm in this situation. I praised God for the generosity and kindness of this team toward us. The only thing in my power at that time was to show them good hospitality. I asked the student nurses of EPSA to come later in the afternoon to meet someone from Port-au-Prince who wanted to collaborate with us.
At the house the food was not ready as the personnel thought we had eaten at the reception of the feast. I had a meeting with Mr. Bayas of Cocade to work with us on reforestation in the town as well as education on the environment. He is ready to share all the fruit trees needed to make this area green and fruitful. I will try my best to collaborate with him and other people like him on the environment.
We ate late. Fr. Louis was around to gather the material use for the reception. He sat down with us and asked everyone at the table to share a low and a high point of their experience so far. After each sharing, he asked everyone to say Mèsi Bondye mèsi, and everyone repeat that. The lows were the roads, the people on garbage piles in Port-au-Prince, the language barrier and the highs were serving the people, establishing relationships, the welcome at the house, and the food.
It started to rain hard when we wanted to go to Mr. Labissiere for supper. After the downpour, we went down past the cemetery telling scary stories. We were served grilled goat, goat bouillon, peeled sugar cane pieces, cremas, fried plantains, rice and beans. While we were there ‘feasting’ to thank Omolabake, Leah, Jeff, Kaitlin, Alicia, Jackie, Danielle, and Carlo it rained very hard getting us all wet. It was exciting sharing this cultural moment with Mr. Labissiere’s family and friends. Because it was still drizzling when we were leaving, we had to use two cars to the house. We went through the square around town to get back to the house.
They said good bye before going to bed. The young people probably remained on the gallery for more conversation.
Thursday, July 27
Omalabake and Leah wanted to spend a day with their team. I woke up not knowing what will be provided as entertainment for our guests to enjoy the area after their two grueling days of work in the medical fair. I had planned to bring them to the waterfall in St. Yves. Because it had rain so hard for the past few days it could be very muddy and difficult to drive through and then hike up there. I had not fret a van for that reason. I decided we could take a long walk to l’Etan (the lake) in the morning and in the afternoon walk to TiBarcadere beach where they had gone before via the sea.
On impulse I decided to go to Fr. Louis’ residence and ask if there was any car we could rent for the day to go to the beach of Madian where his center is. He immediately responded that the car had to be used for different errands but we would be welcome to use it if the driver was available. He called Elto and within minutes he was there. I ran back to the house and organized the group to go. Thank goodness we had already had taken breakfast. This beach is part of the Spiritual Evangelization Center for the diocese under Fr. Louis’ direction. Our group met several of the Young American volunteers from different states doing ministry with the youth. I felt the Drexel University students connecting with them. We went down the big staircase to the beach below. The group had a good time in the water. This is next to the paid beach we had gone to on Sunday. We stayed until 2 and got to the house to have lunch—pitimi, bean sauce, plantain, vegetables and water melon. One member of the Drexel group is vegan. We made sure we all went next door to thank Fr. for the use of the car and the beach. Some individuals went to the square to buy some souvenirs. It rained so hard with lightning and thunder I don’t know where they had to wait for this downpour to end. Leah was very much interested in Abstinade who is interested in becoming a doctor. Fr. Louis would like to find ways to help her achieve her dream. She is one of the youngsters so involve in the church. She speak French and Kreyol so fluently and with pride. She just finished the class of philosophy exam and is waiting for the results. She is 19 years old but she looks much younger. She sings beautifully as well. Omolabake and Leah suggested that she apply to the University of her choice in Haiti as she learns English as well. They would like to follow her progress through Fr. Louis and see how they can encourage her in her medical career. Both these Nigerian ladies are so open-handed although according to their stories they had to struggle to reach their current status in the medical expertise. They exemplify the Corinthian scripture passage: “God loves a cheerful giver.”
We had an enjoyable supper sharing what we would like to see done with improvement for the future. The Drexel University students did very well adapting to the environment and showed great respect and admiration for their professors. They compared this mission to previous ones. We were grateful that everything happened without any incidents at the house and on the roads. Dr. Brea from Fondwa had left early in the morning with Mr. Labissiere. We already missed her. Omolabake would have the room for herself again mostly when she has to wake up so early in the am and finish her packing tonight to catch her early flight tomorrow.
Friday, July 28
I woke up at 1:55 am. Waited for a few minutes and knocked at Leah and Omolabake’s doors to ensure they were up. I went to the apartment outside to shower. I woke Wedlene up to make coffee for our guests as she has to put the gas on. She did it and returned to bed. At 3 am exactly I pushed the suitcases on the gallery toward the exit to reach the car. As soon as I saw the light behind the gate, I rushed to open it before the driver would honked to have it open. It was 4:10 am. Omolabake was finally able to relax as she was so anxious not to catch her flight. We prayed together for a few minutes before they took the road and I continued to pray while they were pulling out of the driveway for a safe travel to Port-au-Prince. I remained in the dining room instead of going back in the personnel’s room where the two young ladies were sleeping. By 6:15 am I felt so exhausted I went to one of the emptied room by our guests and slept until 8 am. The others were awake, we had breakfast. Our last guests, my support, Danielle and Carlo would be leaving tomorrow. Danielle and I walked to EPSA to return the borrowed bucket with faucet and bring the requested money for the 200 patients that came to the fair.
On our way toward the square, we saw two women sweeping the street. I hugged them and thanked them for this important job of keeping the town clean.
The doctor had already left for Port-au-Prince, Danielle and I continued downtown to give the funds to the administrator in order to get a receipt. He said he apologizes for asking for that money but the hospital has so little funding, a lack of dedicated personnel, all in all is ill equipped to handle some basic care. Even though we have noticed so many deficiencies, there is still slow improvement being implemented. I complained of not having an eye chart even in the pediatric room to determine the sight of some of the patient. The team had brought so many glasses to be distributed. The Cubans had come to get reading glasses and we were happy to have finally open a dialog with them in sharing these goods.
After this conversation we went by Jean Philippe Hubert’s house, a teacher from NY vacationing in his home town. Then we proceeded to the edge of town to say goodbye to Mrs. Leblanc. She pointed out the trees, the shrubs, and other decorative plants she had planted along the road to beautify the town. I reminded her that we had receive many trees and plant from COCADE (Mr. Bayas) and they were at the rectory. She promised to follow-up on that. She pointed to Danielle her grandfather’s house which she remembered fondly.
After supper, we did not stay too late. I turned in early and returned to my previous room in the outside quarters. It felt good. I am so grateful to Sr. Flora for having accepted to fixed and equip these rooms and bathroom for our use when we are in town.
Saturday, July 29
No special activities were planned for that day. Most visitors to town for the feast of St. Anne had left already. Woke up finally close to breakfast in the bedroom I originally occupied when I came to town. It felt good—being in my own space again. I packed everything that needed to be put away and or ready to be distributed. Made some calls to see who would show up in the afternoon for the plant next door or for the medical tools left by the Drexel team for the EPSA students. I finalize the financial report to cover our expenses in the house, the personnel, and sisters’ driver & car and gave the envelope with the money to Sr. Linda to remit to Sr. Flora when she comes back from her retreat.
I waited for Fr. Enel who had promised to bring me to the chapels of the cathedral so that I could take pictures for the Boten and deliver the soccer ball requested by Fr. Louis for the directors to promote the sport with the young people. When he came late in the afternoon, he brought me to St. Michel Archange of Lavalle where I gave the ball to Edeline Nivrose who was decorating the church. The director Monuma Dieusel talked to me on the phone but he would not have time for me to see him as we were going to go to the next chapel. While in the car, Joanne called, she needed to be dropped right away in Miragoane, she had found a ride for Port-au-Princce. Her daughter was with us. Fr. Enel asked Dr. Cassamajor who was at the house to borrow some mattresses from Sr. for his hotel to bring me to Perrien. He agreed he would do so as soon as he was done transporting the materials. I finally met Danielle’s brother, Philippe, when he came to pick her and Carlo up to go to Baraderes. We had taken lunch already, so they were good for the road.
After supper, I went to the room to finish packing and relax. At 9:30 pm Dr. Cassamajor came to pick me up. I gave Sr. Linda the message that I was sorry I was already in bed.
Sunday, July 31
I don’t know what woke me up but the dogs were barking a lot. Later on I learned there had been a little tremor in Anse-a-Veau at around 1 am. As I was leaving the room at 5:50 to go wait for the driver that had schedule a 6 am departure, Sr. Linda told he came late last night to say he would be delayed in the morning. He should be arriving around 8 am. I brought the suit cases to the front anyway and went for coffee. Kettely asked if I wanted breakfast, I said OK. I made an egg sandwich to eat later on the road. Then I took the time to pray and do my scripture readings. Dr. Cassamajor showed up I guess to apologize for yesterday or to borrow something else from the sisters. We talked about all that could be done for Anse-a-Veau in matter of education and creating jobs. I felt we were on the same page about some of the issues and projects we would like to accomplish.
Instead of a garden by Larionne’s place on the Paillere property, he and Albert think it should be a playground for the children in that area. He liked the idea of the Depozouti (Tools bank) as he said he is always helping some agricultural group to buy a tool; the chicken coop a necessity for the restaurant he is managing as well; several hospitality houses would be good for the development of tourism; recycling to keep the town clean and produce income for a few; potable water (using Kouzin Dlo) is so important for the health of the people here and guests to come; trees and plants for food and beautification so important (he took Cocade’s info from me); reopen fishermen’s cold/storage room to help them economically; cemetery clean-up to highlight our historical past; maintenance of house and public buildings; upkeep of historical monuments and forts; yearly medical fairs in different towns; university equipment and fence; retirement home at the Frères old building really great with stalls for vendors (arts).
When the driver came I excused myself and promised to keep in touch. Sr. Linda sent her suitcases to the mother house as she will be going in a week to her new assignment in Hinche. Wedlene came with us as she will be returning home. She asked the driver to drop her at the station to catch the other bus going north. When we got to the Sisters of Charity in Tabarre my phone was not working again. I could not call the driver Carlo had recommended to drive me around. Sr. Martha showed me the room and the bathroom in the section of the compound for guests. I wish we could do a structure like this in Anse-a-Veau. A section for the retired priests next to the dining room and kitchen and another building for the retired guests leasing apartments/room for a year at a time. I had to leave the big suitcase downstairs as it was too heavy to go up the spiral staircase. I brought the carry on upstairs with me with a few article of clothing for each day from the larger one. I borrowed a box from a person in the laundry room. I was able to call the driver as it was getting late and did not want him to wait for me any longer. Sr. Martha suggested I used her driver and the house car to go do my visits: My friend Malou in Pellerin; my cousin Suzy, Place Boyer; my friend Marie Michelle Delma, my friend Alix downtown, and my brother Benedick in Delma.
I came back just on time for supper. There were four nuns at this time in the house: Sr, Margareth-principal of Jean Paul II, Sr. Martha taking care of the buildings construction, Sr. Lila of Jacmel and Sr. Josapha, the sister servant. I briefly updated them on my projects in Anse-a-Veau. After supper we all pitch in to clean, wash dishes, dry them, and place them back where they belong. I talked with Sr. Martha for a little while then I turned in. I was feeling so exhausted.
Monday, July 31
As usual I woke up before the time set. I could not go back to sleep at first. I felt an onset of a headache, I forced myself to close by eyes. The alarm woke me up, I guess I had dozed off. I got dressed and read the scriptures of the day before going to prayer at 5:30. Sr. Josaphat was already busy in the kitchen as I went to the dining room to get some water. At 5:45 we said the Laude. Sr. Josaphat had me read the psalm in Kreyol. Then we went across the street to the Miraculous Medal Parish for mass. After mass, we had a light breakfast. I had felt sleepy throughout mass and now too. I felt really drowsy. I braved the dense traffic streets and to go to the Digicel office. I only made two phone calls before I lost signal again. I had to take a nap, I went to the room and fell asleep for about an hour. I borrowed someone else box to make some calls. In the afternoon, Lydie came with a friend to bring a small picture of Pierre given to her by Marie Ange. She showed me some other pictures on her phone of the family that Marie Ange will be giving to Babette. She would like to move back to Haiti but she is not sure where she would like to settle: Petit Goave where her friend is from or Anse-a-Veau where she was born. After she left, we had supper. There were two additional sisters who came tonight ‘en route’ for other destination tomorrow. One Haitian sister working in Puerto-Rico coming home to spend vacation time with her family, the other is from Meyer, Jacmel. Sr. Natalie has been in Haiti for the past 25 years. She did a tomatoes jam that was so delicious.
She came to buy medication and other supplies before returning to Meyer.
After supper Sr. Martha and I went to the office to check in online and print my boarding pass. We talked a little about American politics, I had been disconnected from the news for the past 21 days. Then by 10pm I went back to the room.
Tuesday, August 1
I woke up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache. I did not look at the time. I use some Vicks. When my body felt better to look at the clock it was 5:50. I knew the sisters were already praying. I took my time to shower and wet my head and walk slowly down the stairs planning to go to mass across the street. I saw Sr. Martha she had just left the gate of the house so I knew maybe I was not too late although she always say she is not a morning person. The mass had just begun. But the back of the room smelled. I moved to the center of the room. I could hardly hear the priest speak in the microphone. He had a low voice and he was whispering. I just concentrated on the gestures and the moments being celebrated.
I could not wait for coffee and breakfast. I had taken a garlic 6,000 mg and I was afraid the pain would get worse. All morning I sat in the porch outside the chapel. I tried to make some calls–to Mr. Paillaire about his property, Kouzin Dlo and Claudette–were going to voice mail. I talked to Marie Michelle before I lost signal. Sr. Margareth spent a few minutes with me teaching me the prayers and a song that I liked in church.
At the different houses we had particular routines and prayers that were inspiring. At the Salesiennes I like this prayer before eating: May your will be our nourishment in all that we say and do.” At the DCs before meal we said: “Ou fè nou jwenn manje pou soutni lavi nou se pou dènye malere jwenn moso pen tou. Beni nou ansanm ak moun ki pare manje sa a. Se pou nou rete fidèl ap fè sèvis ou pa pouvwa JeziKri Granmèt nou, pitit ou li menm ki vivan e ki wa.’
After the meal : «Pou tout favè ou fè nou yo, mèsi Bondye mèsi ou menm ki vivan e ki wa depi touttan gen tan. Amen. »
The song we sang before the Gospel reading at church speaks to my heart: «Ede m viv pawòl la. Ede m pale pawòl la pou pawòl la vin yon reyalite. Pou pawòl la pote chanjman nan lavi m.»
Finally at 12 noon, Sr. Martha asked if I would like to have some cookies or fruit before going to the airport. There was no traffic. We got at the airport at 12:30 got on line for weighting the suitcase. It was 51 pounds. The agent let it slide. I was observing the agents at the counter, she was the only one smiling with everyone. I had to compliment her for such a positive attitude. The male agent only smiled to a friend who had brought him something. I went through security with no problem. I went upstairs to see my friend Micheline Renaud who is always there and also buy the Barbancout Rhum for Pierre. I bought a bottle of water and a sandwich of ham and cheese with nothing on it. I ate half for lunch and kept the other half for supper.
The plane was on time but completely booked. This time the airline served two bags of chips although we had more people on board. I tried to watch a sci-fi movie. The sound was not working. The plane landed on time but it took about 30 minutes before the carousel started. After I picked up the suitcase, I placed the rum in it to facilitate maneuvering the bags. By gate 8 outside there were no cabs. I had to get back inside and go on the elevator up and then down to find the yellow cab. I am glad the officer helped me otherwise I would still be running around. The cabbie was a new young man doing this job for the past 3 months. I had to repeat the address 3 times. Finally, I told him the shortest way to get to the house. He said he wanted to use the GPS I told him no because they do a different route and it is much longer. I send my daughter a text telling her I had landed. When I got home, my husband was waiting for me outside. She wrote a welcome home note on my white activity board. I gave her the two bottles of hot sauce Sr. Margaret had bought for her. I was too tired to empty my bags. I watched a news clip and went to bed.
I am thankful to be back home. On this trip I did not get sick on the plane. I am so happy.
Except for the medical fair, I felt that we did not accomplish what we had purported to do this summer. I questioned the motivation of the Renesansavo participants and other members of CORA. On what type of ground did we sow the seeds for change or rebuilding? (Mat 13:3-8) Rethinking and evaluation of our way of acting must be revised if we want to make an impact.
However, the trash issue as pointed out by our guests and what I witness on our journey give me great concern. Since 2015 I have been talking about the campaign to ‘jere fatra’, now I believe the time has come to work on it seriously.