Monday, May 20, 2019
The trip for me this year had a double purpose. First, I needed to evaluate the progress of work from last year and have my husband experience some of what I have faced during the previous travels. The last time he went to Haiti was 40 years ago. I knew he would be shocked by the deteriorated physical appearance of part of the country. He volunteered to join me while I was planning to do my annual visit. He also wished to visit the church of his childhood, Cathedral of St. Anne, for our 50th wedding anniversary. We had met for the first time in a Church, St. Gerard in Port-au-Prince when he offered his seat to my grandmother. As we were approaching this set date, we became anxious about the news of unrest in the country. We prayed and decided we would go through with our scheduled 24 days journey.
We woke up at 2 am. Drank coffee, showered and prepared the last minutes detail to secure the house. At 3:10 am the PJ car service had not arrived as scheduled last night. We called them to remind them of the reservation and within 10 minutes the car driven by a Nigerian arrived. He was very helpful in embarking and disembarking the four suitcases. We had the two carry-ons with us in the front. We got to the airport in no time using the local roads. I went in search of cart by the checked bag area for free. Pierre helped me placed the bigger suitcases on the cart while we rolled the carry-ons to the kiosks to check in and get the suitcase labels. We brought them to the weigh in section. They were all one or two pounds under the 50 pounds limit. At the Security line because Pierre was not TSA pre-checked I had to go with him on the general line. Pierre had to go several times in the machine, I don’t know why. When all was done, we got to our gate by 4:30 am. I prefer to be early and waiting rather than hustling last minute. The plane was on time for boarding and departure at 6:30 am. After 30 minutes of flight in the air, the captain announced that the plane had to return to NY because of hardware difficulties. I thought Pierre would say let us return home but he remained upbeat and said let’s see what the airline is going to do. While at the gate, the second scheduled plane for the day departed for Haiti on time. Our flight 935 was rescheduled to leave at 9 am. I had to call Sister Martha who was picking us at the Port-au-Prince airport to let her know that our flight had been postponed and would not probably be there before 12:45 pm. For this moment of inconvenience, Jet Blue offered water, juice, chips or cookies. The flight attendants were very pleasant. When we mentioned our 50 years wedding anniversary, they brought us some cookies and a little bottle of wine. Pierre was pleased by this friendly gesture and relaxed. We arrived in Haiti at 12:50 pm without any other incidents. Pierre and I were brought to the front of the line by an attendant. We processed through immigration quickly and then went to pick up our suitcases after renting a cart. It took a while at both telephone companies Natcom and Digicel. Sr. Martha had been waiting for us for about an hour with her driver Fritz. We had a porter push the cart to the car parked in the parking lot and Fritz helped us in the open truck to ensure the safety of the luggage. Another guy pretended to help too in order to get a tip. Pierre and Sr. Martha had a great conversation while driving to the House in Tabarre. He did not know where he was as this area was populated after he had left the country.
I left an envelope with the books I authored for Sonide who is building the VFHI library for the schools in the Plateau Central. I gave the sisters their gifts. We ate with Sr. Martha who was unable to take her lunch as she was waiting for us at the airport. Later, we saw all the other sisters in the house and had supper with them. The Daughters of Charity are always so welcoming. They had prepared two separate rooms for us as they have only single beds. I was exhausted by early evening and went to bed right away.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
I slept well until 4 am. The fan was making some noise. I turned it off. Finally, at 5 am, I went to Pierre’s room to use the bathroom in his room rather than the common bathroom. By 5:45 am, I went to the main house for prayer and mass with the sisters. Some young men and four ladies in discernment to the religious life were in attendance. After mass, St. Josephat was so proud to have us visit the yard with her vegetable gardens. We had breakfast after picking up mangoes from one of the trees. We placed our suitcase in the hallway waiting for the driver. He was delayed because of traffic. I am glad we had decided to stay in Tabarre overnight before travelling to Anse-a-Veau. Pierre’s feet had swelled during the flight. He needed some time to walk and move around. He was told not to go about in the street of Tabarre but the sister’s property is so well maintained, it feels like an oasis in a middle of a war zone. We had a chance to talk to each sister and their individual ministries. There were also two other guests—Sisters of Charity—making a discernment about their continued service to Haiti in view of the different attacks on their facilities. I had a chance to sit with the aspiring ladies to religious life with the Daughters. I mentioned I was part of the Vincentian family as a Lady of Charity (Association International of Charity-AIC), one of the oldest lay group in the church.
The driver finally arrived at 9:30. I am glad we were waiting in a comfortable place unlike last year when I had to wait for about 3 hours at the entrance of the airport parking lot. We did find some traffic as well by the airport, Delma, and Grassier. At 11:34 we stopped at a Total Gaz station completely operated by women. I became hungry and was glad I had brought a snack from the airplane. I shared with the driver. We stopped for the men at Carrefour Desruisseaux. By 1:21 pm, we were on the way via the mountain road through Miragoane. We arrived at the hotel, Francoville, at 3:30 pm after dropping the 2 suitcases at the Salesians and an envelope at Mrs. Leblanc. It was so good to relax on the balcony overlooking the ocean. We had our first hot meal of the day, lobster with rice and beans as well as fried plaintains. While sitting there we met a young man shooting a music video. His name is Baby Clement known as Black Bob San Fwen (Fren). He agreed on giving me an interview and I sent his information to Buteau to have a conversation with him for the Haitian Apostolate.
We ordered a plate of food for the both of us in the evening. We did not want to overeat. Pierre had a hard time reconciling the streets littered with garbage in Port-au-Prince, overpopulation, car and motto traffic with no stop signs to the open space where we were.
It took us a little while to adjust to the regular sound of the ocean waves.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
I woke up around 2 am and tried to go back to sleep until 4:30 am. Finally, at 5:30, I went outside on the balcony to see the sun rise. Although there were mosquitoes flying around, I wanted to enjoy the sound of the waves, the birds singing, and the cock crow. Even Pierre woke up early. We sat together enjoying the view, watching the fishermen fishing on their wooden canoes. By 6:15 coffee was served. Arnold was sweeping the stairs. He goes to sleep at around midnight and has to go to school by 7 am at the private HS. He is in rheto. At 6:50 am the radio started playing in the restaurant bar above our room. At 9 am, Natalie called us from South Korea so that we could show her our location. Sr. Flora came to handle some business at the hotel and to meet Pierre. I used the opportunity to ask her to set up a lunch at her place for the personnel on June 7 for anniversary. We waited for breakfast until 10:30 am. The hotel served ‘mayi moulen’ and ‘mori’. Pierre wanted to relax, but I walked to Sr. Flora’s house to sort the items shipped and the suitcase I had brought with me. I separated items for the ‘foyer’ of L’Etang Rey (games and other items for the children); Kitchen and sewing materials for the Trade school run by Sr. Mirlande. Talked to Claudette to prepare for the upcoming meeting with the participants of RENESANSAVO on Friday. I walked over to the Cathedral to meet with Fr. Merosne. He was absent. I talked to him on the phone about our wedding celebration. He told me the intention would be said during the evening mass at 6:30 pm on Friday and I could give the money (suggested donation 1,000 gdes) and information to the secretary, Mrs. Dane. While at the rectory, an Officer Goodson, just appointed to the Nippes came to introduce himself. I used the opportunity and talked about CORA and our work in community development. He questioned me in some way if I were teaching civics that is so paramount. When he heard my last name. He questioned if I were related to the mayor of the town. I answered that he was related to my husband. He then asked me for my maiden name. He asked if I knew the associate mayor of Petionville with this last name. I replied that she was my sister but she is doing her job in Petionville and I am doing my ministry in the Nippes. I love my sister, but in Haiti depending on people’s perception they may equate my work or her job negatively on the other party.
Then I continued on a walkthrough of the area to EPSSA, the University of the town. I was shocked to see the state of disrepair that the school was in. The doors were half broken; the bathroom dismantled. I remembered when we did the program in 2014 and 2015, I had locked installed for the doors, painted the walls, bought a water cooler for the office, had the broken door of the storage replaced by a solid iron one and the back door of the storage room walled up so that the people on the road would not have access to it. We also bought and installed a chateau d’eau and a table built for the kitchen area. The only good thing is that they kept the ground cleared of weeds and garbage the way our team had originally cleaned it. I passed by ‘salle paroissiale’ which still is a ‘sore sight’ of mud and garbage with a box truck parked in the yard on the main road leading to the church and university, peeling paint, and cracked walls. I really felt disappointed with the hierarchy of the church which in 2012 told me at the ‘One Table” conference in Washington DC that CORA and personal efforts should be geared toward preparing 2021, 300th year anniversary. We are two years away from that date. What have they done? They own most property in the town and all of them are left to their own device. They are as absent as the local city government in the town. I do understand that maintenance is not part of the habits of poverty-stricken people but this is downright neglect. Our Renesansavo team had originally cleaned the Calvaire, but it needs upkeep.
When I got to the hotel, we had dinner: ‘ri ak pwa kongo, lanbi, bannan fri, choukrout ak kawòt rache’. In the evening I had a mango from Tabarre. It was really delicious. I tried to read but I did not enjoy it. I went to bed early. I felt so emotionally disturbed by the lack of motivation.
Thursday, May 23, 2019
I woke up several times during the night. Finally, I woke up from a dream I was calling out after a woman” I know you killed my brother”. Then she noticed me. She was watching me pursuing her. Finally, I saw her raise both arms to strike me. I yelled “I know you killed my brother.” Then she came close to me and grabbed by hand where she injected something. I screamed and woke up. I immediately prayed for that ‘character’ who I had accused and wanted to do me harm in the dream. I finally got out of bed by 5:50 am to watch the rising sun and hear the waves while praying and connecting with majestic creation. After coffee and breakfast, Pierre and I went to Ti Barcadere, the beach area. Since, Matthew a crater like hole was created on the road. Up the hill and down to the beach area. Again, the benches and tables we had built there in 2014/2017 were demolished. The area was filled with garbage. There was a cow near the water. It was munching on a plastic bottle. We stayed there baffled by the negligence of the people about the environment. The natural beauty of the area marred by the people’s carelessness. My husband recalled how as a child the families used to come to picnic in this area. On our way back to the hotel, we met a peasant with his machete. We told him about our observation about the cow chewing the bottle. He said that many cows have died from eating the garbage left by the people. Pierre and I noticed that along the road they used the ‘candelabra’s tree’ as natural fencing. I introduced Pierre to Mr. Poulard. I went up town to Sisters’ place, then the rectory to bring my donation for mass. Before reaching Mrs. Leblanc’s house, I met Jean Vanel and gave him the goggles I had brought for him. After visiting with Mrs. Leblanc, she insisted on driving me back after showing me a house she is completing for her nephew and she would like to lease. Then she spent some time with us at the hotel as well. Then the foreman showed up and said he would give me an interview tomorrow. The hotel served lunch at 2:15 pm: Ble, poul di, ak salad. We ate one of our mangoes for dessert.
We lounged on the easy chairs for a siesta. One of the workers I had seen at the sisters last year asked me for an audience. He wanted to know if I could help him build a small two room house for his mother. I told him I did not have funds to do that type of charity but if he wrote his request, I would forward it to the group who is researching the idea of providing small loans to individuals. In late afternoon, we went down the long stairway by the water. Pierre went in the water but I did not feel like joining him although I love the ocean. Late evening, Mirkerlande brought us some juice. After watching the twilight for a while, I turn in early feeling the heaviness of being unable to fulfill people’s expectation and not being able to enjoy a moment free of some type of request. I am grateful that I had opportunities to work and learn for forty years to be financially stable now. Even the early struggles to adjust to a new country as immigrant, work, create a family and the pain/sacrifices to achieve do not remove the guilt I felt that I am among a small percentage of people who just had a chance.
Friday, May 24, 2019
During the night the wind blew hard with a torrential rain unlike last night where it only rained. The whole bathroom was wet before we had the chance to close the window panes. In the middle of the night, the interior windows felt like an animal was gnawing at them. I had to lift the flashlight several time in that direction to have the noise stop. At 5:45 am, I heard Arnold sweeping the stairs leading to our balcony then our area. There were a lot of water and dead insects on the floor and tables. He also had to dry the deck below with all the lounge chairs and cushions. We had coffee around 7:15 am and later brought the ‘mayi moulen’ and ‘sauce aransò’ with avocado. We had a conversation with Phaeton, the manager and Jean Fritz, the kitchen coordinator whose zone boat was broken during the night. His previous boat had cost him 2,000 HT a few years ago. Today, I interviewed both the foreman working on the premises, Henold St. Juste who is building the upcoming wedding venue (site) for Marie Yolenss and Jean Charlot Montesuma who built Francoville and is an employee of Caritas Nippes.
Lunch (dinner) was served at 1:45 pm. We had lanbi/kabrit in ‘sauce’, white rice, bean sauce, salad/vegetable, and juice.
I walked to the Salesians’ house and on the road, I met Ervey and Jimmy co-owners who were coming inside the hotel. I helped Claudette set the table with cookies and juice as well as fix the chairs in a circle format. We had fourteen participants in attendance. Each individual present talked about their lives and what their group is or not doing. It was a cordial meeting. Kettia was concerned with the gifts of camera and a projector given to the school (EPSSA) in 2014/2015 and none to RENESANSAVO project (participants). Her second point was that if another administrator other than Sr. Flora is appointed as head of the Salesians’ house, would the trade/professional school stop existing. I answered that the cameras were given to the university by a donor in memory of her father so that other students would continue to learn how to use them at the University; the second point, that it is an institution that we support and whoever is in charge would have to continue in the commitment taken toward the community according to their mission statement. We would have more to lose with an individual secular or not.
The 14 participants were glad we had the meeting. I gave Myriam’s gifts to Kettia and Filienne respectively and my books for Kettia’s school library, Les Etoiles. After the meeting, Filienne walked with me to the Hotel. I wanted to introduce her to Blendel at the Haitian Sport foundation in order to volunteer for their upcoming medical fair.
When I got to Francoville, Pierre was agitated saying he was told that we were supposed to have moved out already. The reservation said 21 to 24. I agreed with him stating that we arrived on the 21 at about 3 pm and check out time should be on the 25th in the am that is 4 nights, as I had discussed with the manager yesterday morning. There was no confusion for me. I had prepaid our hotels a month before as well as the transportation fees. While I was still trying to calm Pierre, the owner came along with the mayor and his brother. Pierre discussed family members still alive and known families still living in the country. The mayor stated some of the things he is trying to achieve for the town after I mentioned what I hear from the people that he is an ‘absent mayor’. We all talked until 11:15 pm. When they left, Pierre told me he had paid the bill put on our room tab. He used the gourdes I had given him for his personal expenses as well as some US money. I was upset that he did this without my prior knowledge as I handled all the financial for the trip. O my God! At least he tried to help.
Saturday, May 25, 2019
I could not sleep. I prayed but something was bothering my internal peace. After turning and tossing for a while, I think I had finally fallen asleep when the phone rang at 3:28 am. It was Natalie. I called her back she did not answer. I tried again to fall asleep. The ocean was turbulent. I could hear it striking across the rocks below. The rumbling was loud. At 5:30 am Pierre woke up and was surprised on how agitated the waves were below. I showered, got dressed and completed the packing of the suitcases. At 6:30 Arnold brought the coffee. Later Phaeton, the manager, came and I explained his misunderstanding about our reservation and how he had upset my husband. He should have not come with people to our space after I had discussed check-out time with him yesterday morning. I reiterated to him how reservations are made and that the personnel should be aware of set policies and hospitality guidelines. We gave Arnold a tip and encouraged him not to miss school as he had done in the past few days in order to serve the guests. I felt dizzy, I had to go lie down on the lounge chair. They brought breakfast at 9:15 am. Our usual waitress came with someone else this am.
As the manager was going to the sisters to do some errand, I went with him to take our suitcases to their place. I walked back to the Hotel to pick-up Pierre. He was in great conversation with two men. Then the owner of the hotel came to spend some time with us to hear our evaluation of the hotel so that he can make improvements. We said he would get an 8 out of 10 for personnel courtesy and services. He had us visit the whole hotel and presented us the plan for the future. By 2:30 we decided to walk to our new arrangements at the sisters’ place. We visited “Grann Sentàn”, the Cathedral for a short prayer. As we were on the big steps it started to drizzle. We hurried to the house.
We had lunch of bouillon with Sr. Flora. I ate one of the mangoes and some apricot preserves. I dropped by the sewing and cooking classes taking place in this Saturday morning and took pictures.
I made arrangements with Sr. Flora for the different trips I wanted to have instead of hiring a driver and renting a car. We also made arrangements with our airport driver to use him for a visit around the town.
We had supper: fried fish, lam veritab and plaintain. We were served cookies prepared by the students attending the cooking class. We had conversation with the Sisters and they asked us how we had met. After supper, we sat a while on the gallery before turning in.
We had changed location; we would be part of the congregation for the next few days. I was happy to be in familiar territory. This is not the impersonal atmosphere of a hotel.
Sunday, May 26, 2019
I slept heavily for a while and woke up around 2 am. It was so dark, I thought I was blind. I could not even distinguish outlines of things. At around 4 am, Pierre woke up. I closed the curtains separating our room window from the personnel. At 5:30, I thought Pierre had opened the light but it was the sunlight peering in from the outside window. I got out of bed, showered, got dressed and went to the main dining room and kitchen to look for some coffee. While praying on the gallery, I noticed that Sr. Mirlande was taking pictures for the communicants. I called Pierre to help with the process of individual and group pictures for each child receiving first communion before going over to the church. I made some videos for them as well processing to church. The young priest preached for a long time. [He mentioned our Catholic identity with the Eucharist instituted by Christ (John 6:20-24). Matthew and Luke which discussed to do this in memory; the controversy which existed between the Jewish communities and the pagans converting and accepting Christ. He celebrated women and asked which commandment stated to honor father and mother.] I wish the priests in Haiti would do like the priests in my Parish of Incarnation. They are never too long and yet their messages are based on one of the readings and inspiring. Not too many messages at one time always directing you to improve your relationship with God and each other. Then the mass proceeded with special attention to the kids. Some of the kids while at the house had practice the readings with me before coming to church. They did a good job in proclaiming the word of God and the prayers. They also had rehearsed a liturgical dance. It was practically 11 am when everything was done in the church. I rushed to the house to get some breakfast.
Pierre and I relaxed on the outside porch that surround the sister’s house facing the inside courtyard. We had a nice lunch of rice, chicken, plaintain, and ‘zabriko’ preserve. Filienne, a Renesansavo participant, who has been volunteering at Visitation Hospital for the past four months because she is unable to find a job yet. I had given her the task to negotiate some funds on my behalf with the Sisters at L’Etang Rey to repair, purchase, and do some needed work for the children’s “foyer”. She had collected all receipts and then prepared a financial report based on the needs assessment she had elicited from them. We planned to go together tomorrow to bring them some items brought for the children and some sewing materials.
Pierre and I went for a walk around the town. We went past the cemetery to the lower part of town called ‘La basse ville’. We strolled on the street called ‘bord de mer’ where the old houses and stores used to be, where the fishermen live now. We went on a little pathway up by Dartiguenave’s historical house filled with garbage. We stopped by the old “Frères” building where Pierre went to school. There were a few inhabitants among which there was a fisherman making a fishing net who live in this abandoned property by the hierarchy of the church. We passed by the Hospital Jules Fleury, manned mostly by the Cuban medical staff which does not speak Kreyòl. By the Calvaire, I saw Oline who was sitting on the stairs there with some kids. I asked her, as they had volunteered her expertise at our last RENESANSAVO meeting, to be part of the entrepreneurship research committee. I wondered if she would be interested to work with Sr. Myrlande in creating a workshop on small business and entrepreneurship for the cooking and sewing class participants. She agreed in talking with Sr. on this matter.
The house was quiet when we got there. It is time off for the personnel.
Monday, May 27, 2019
I got up from bed at 6:15 am although I was awake since 4:30 am. I got dressed took coffee and went on the gallery by inner yard to pray. By 7:50 am, the school bell rang while I was taking breakfast with Pierre. Sr. Flora seemed a little upset that a parent got mad because the school had asked for the tuition and was putting some pressure to get some funds to pay the teachers. Pierre and I got ready to go to L’Etang Rey. We put the suitcase and materials in the car while waiting for Filienne to join us. We finally left the house at 9 am. In Miragoane and at the entrance of the Paillant road we saw some team pulling weeds and cleaning, the driver and Filienne stated that this is called “Kale kò” or “Blanchi kòb”. When the local government receives some type of funding, they give a few temporary assignments to some people to clear around the road for a day or two. We reached Kafou Farest at 10:45 before taking the side road on the left to go up the rocky mountain to “St Francois d’Assise” Foyer (orphanage with a few kids with a living parent) run by the contemplative order created by Fr. Dehoux who was in the Hospital because of fractured pelvis. Sr. Marie Rose the new person in Charge welcomed us and had us visit the foyer. We made individual pictures for most of the children. Visited the classrooms of the small ones who are not sent to the public school due to their young age and inexperience to be on the road by themselves. Filienne and Sr. Hostie made the inventory of all items that were brought for them. She wrote the name of kids in order for me so that I could place them on their pictures. While there, we received two requests for funding one to complete the clinic, and another to have furniture and items for the foyer. The children had sung for us. Before we left, we (the driver, Filienne, Pierre and myself) as well as a visiting priest from Les Cayes, Jean Kenel Erinac) were given lunch before taking the road back. We stopped by Msgr. Rebecca’s church but he did not answer although his car was there.
It started to rain heavily by the roundabout in Miragoane and as suddenly as the rain had started 15 minutes later it stopped. We stopped at Visitation Hospital to drop Filienne who was on duty for the evening. I had asked Ms. Theresa Patterson, founder of the hospital, to allow her to get training at the hospital as a young graduate in nursing. However, because she had not found employment yet she remained as an intern for now four months. We talked to the nurse in charge and the ADM about Filienne. They both said how they were satisfied with her performance and sense of commitment in accomplishing whatever tasks assigned to her. Although she had a glowing review no job offer was forthcoming from them. The ADM told me if I paid her, he would be happy to keep her working at the hospital. We stopped by Manolo’s hotel so that Pierre could see where I had stayed twice. Manolo told Pierre since January he only had three guests in the hotel. We stopped two times on the road to see if we could buy some Soda’s for Sr. Myrlande’s business. We did not find any at a good price. When we got to the house, we still found some food from the lunch served in the afternoon. Pierre was really hungry. I mentioned to Sister Myrlande that I wished I had some ice cream. She froze some ‘kowosòl’ pulp with a little brown sugar on top. It was delicious. I felt an underlying headache and decided to turn in early. After putting some of my papers in order, I was really tired.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Woke up twice during the night. It is so dark in comparison to my room in NY where I can see the outline of every furniture. Finally, at 6:30 I got out of bed showered and went to the dining room for coffee. All three nuns were having breakfast. I did not stay long; I went to the porch (gallery) to pray and do the bible readings of the mass of the day. By eight, Pierre came to have breakfast before Mrs. Leblanc was to pick us up to visit Brossard. We saw the wall erected by CORA as a fencing around the property where the chapel of St. Claire is to be built. Nothing else is being done at this time. Mrs. Leblanc stated that they are waiting on a senator that promised to have the land leveled to facilitate the construction. We went to the Petits Frères (PFST)’s place. They were not there. The sugar cane mill was not working. The sugar cane sticks were getting dry under the sun or rotting at the bottom where the rain had soaked some. The bagasse piles were still very high. I don’t know when they will find a way to transform these or get rid of them. We continued on to Arnaud and Mrs. Leblanc showed us the family lands (Fleury) and her father’s tomb. On our way back, we stopped a Laurore Bellegarde’s school in the area. The director, Fritz St. Cyr, gave an interview. Mrs. Leblanc dropped us at Mr. Larionne’s so that Pierre could say hello. Then we went to Mr. Martin so that he could show us Pierre’s father tomb. As he was not home nor at his business. We continued to visit the elementary national school & St. Ange in Ka George. These two schools have the same grades and two different directors. They represent one the old school run by the brothers, the other run by the nuns. So, an important citizen of the town gave a gift of land to build the two schools in remembrance of these institutions. But both are mixed schools no longer one for girls the other for the boys. It started to drizzle, we rushed through EPSSA and side path to get to the house. As soon as we got in, it started to pour incessantly. We filled up 10 buckets of water for the bathrooms and the kitchen. Several mangoes fell on the ground and on the tin roof scaring us at time. While we were outside on the porch, three individuals from a company doing some work in the area came to ask Sr. Flora for lodging because of the torrential rain They could no longer travel around because of the intensity of the wind and rain flow. Sr. Flora had to go in the rain to the outside bungalow to fix the room with two single beds for the women and set up the front living room with a mattress for the man.
For supper we had Labouillie bannann. I had eaten three mangoes in the afternoon, I did not want to eat anything else. The main had abated a little. The new guests said they had to go look for some food, they would be back. I decided to turn in. I did some wash.
By the time I had finish the rain started again. I decided to go to bed at 8:30 pm and do some reading. The rain continued to pour down. I know most roads will be impractical in the morning.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
When I heard the sisters singing, it was already 5:58 am. I decided to go shower and get dressed. I got some coffee and sat down on the gallery for my own prayers and readings. The sisters had finished their morning laud in the chapel. I saw the members of the team who had asked for lodging last night walking about the facility. Apparently, there is a monitor registering earthquake data on the sisters’ property. I asked the lady who seemed in charge if she would give me an interview. I had breakfast (haran, patat, yam) and sat on the gallery. I saw one of the students crying in the yard. He had a necklace so tight around his neck with an imbedded cross looking like a choker. I guess this was a charm against evil. I sang some nursery rhymes to him until he joined the other kids. I mentioned this to Sr. Flora. While I was talking to my daughter in Korea, the engineer, Sophia Ulysse, came to me for the interview. She is young, knowledgeable, and confident. She took about 11 minutes to explain her work and what the population should be aware of to protect themselves from these weather conditions. Pierre was picking mangoes with a stick; I took some pictures and made a short video. I texted the pictures to our kids via What’s app. We looked into the chicken coop business of eggs and chicken which supplement the income of the sisters as some children are unable to pay the tuition.
We had lunch at 2:30 pm: fish, rice and beans, plaintain, legume. This was a very relaxing time for us in a drizzling, sporadically rainy day. I went back to our room to get my notebook, it smelled like dog. Pierre had used a broom to sweep which is used to clean the backyard. I had to mop with a rinse to remove the smell. This is how we spend time as if it were our own home. The big difference there was no television and news about the political climate between democrats and republicans. What a great respite. Daniel, living in Mexico was corresponding with his brother. Wow! We take it for granted to be able to communicate to the United States, South Korea, Mexico, and within Haiti.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
I could not sleep. I prayed. I was not thinking of anything special. I just was waiting for the morning to come. I realized I had not written the minutes of the meeting done with the RENESANSAVO participants. After coffee and prayer, Pierre and I had breakfast early: ‘mayi moulen’ with everything in it and fresh kowosòl juice. The food here is organic. I will be missing that when I go back home. We had a chance to sit with the sisters. I mentioned some things that bother me in the country: not having enough light in the classrooms for the students to see clearly and assigned space for children to play. We also discussed some of the Salesians short- and long-term plans. Short term is to strengthen the vocational school, the chicken coop business of eggs and live chickens. The long term would be to find funds to build the fence around the other land which is being surveyed for building the additional classrooms needed for the vocational school as well as fulfilling the national education mandate to have complete elementary grades – k to 9. Another long-term request would be to replace their current 11-12 years old Toyota four-wheel drive which requires a lot of maintenance.
At noon, I decided to go to the Cathedral which was going to welcome pilgrims from Les Cayes celebrating their 300 years of their parishes 1719-2019. There were about 8-12 busses with several priests in attendance. I had to help some of the welcoming team youth bring chairs for the people in the back of the church. Fr. Louis announced that the pilgrims could find food at the sisters’ place. I ran there, they were not equipped to do so. I helped to organize the lines. When there was no more food left. I returned to the church. I saw Fr. Almonacy, I gave him a copy of the mass book explained in Kreyol that I am preparing as well as a book I think he would enjoy reading: “Silence Parole de Vie”. There was no room in the church to sit. I had to stand during the mass. Finally, at 3 pm, I cross over to the house to have lunch. When I came back to the Cathedral, they were still praying. I stayed on the big steps looking in, the pilgrims were praying singing. I noticed by the door two young men. One had a lit candle in each raised hand, the other had one. They had their eyes closed completely engrossed in their fervent meditation. I just wanted to join in their prayers and also intercede in their favor. To the right of the landing was a young woman with hunting eyes, looking so desperate and emotionally dejected that I felt the urge to go to her and kiss her and say quickly Jesus loves you. Encounters like this lingers with you. Everything ended at 4:30 pm and the pilgrims returned to their busses on their way to another church. When I returned to the house, I talked to Sr. Myrlande about one of her students, the only male, attending the cooking class who had approached me to be part of the award ceremony as graduating class godmother. I remembered Professor Claude who had taught in Cap Haitian and had also provided some small cooking devices for his students. I promised to communicate with him when I get back in the States to see how he could help or improve the classes. I communicated with Carole about us visiting Jacmel during the week-end. I also sent a message to Evelyne to thank her on behalf of ‘Foyer St. Francois d’Assise’ of L’Etang Rey. The driver came back from Cap Haitian with the carpenters who were to work on the dining room and kitchen cabinets. The new kind of mango s delicious, it could be used to do the type of chips I recently ate in NY produced by the Mavuno Harvest. Pierre went to the church to see the people do night prayers. I felt the mosquitoes wanted to have a feast night with me, I turn in early.
Friday, May 31, 2019
The night was better. I felt refresh in the am. I finally got out of bed at 5:50 am and I could hear the sisters singing in the chapel. Pierre and I had breakfast. We were waiting for Sr. Mirlande to return from filing out the reports for the cantine at the National school. We were headed for Aquin, my mother’s birth place. Finally, Sr. Angeline, Sr. Myrlande, Pierre, and I got ready and left the house at 9:40 am. I called Aldy, the owner of the Aldy Hotel, he was not in Aquin, and he was already in Port-au-Prince. The driver and Pierre were having fun making a joke about the motorcycles calling them the new donkeys—”Motosiklèt tounen bourik”. I like going to Aquin. The road is asphalted unlike the road to Anse-a-Veau. We visited Aldy Hotel and met Aldy’s son who is now the manager of the hotel. We bought a few items at the hotel—kremas, sodas, and confiture. We also drove to the center complex. We got back on the return road at 1:00 pm. We stopped only for gas and was at the house by 3:00 pm. Pierre liked the hotel and the view. When we got back, we had lunch. Pierre put the pictures on the computer as a backup. I talked to Mr. Labissiere who told us he found mail in our box although we had filled out forms at the post office to discontinue service for the next three weeks. I stayed on the gallery to type the minutes. I was unable to send an email; the Wi-Fi was very low. I had to ask Sr. Angeline to send the email to Mr. Labissiere for me. I helped Willene with the dishes. She seemed so tired after preparing and cooking breakfast, lunch, taking care of additional guests, selling chickens and eggs. She is like an indentured servant. She has a natural smile and is of good humor unless crossed. I like her and she knows it. I made arrangements with Sr. for the different trips using her car and driver and also preparing the dinner for June 7 for the personnel. I reminded her to give me a note for the monies received for my records. She knows how I keep track of every expenses incurred during my trips. Pierre and I went to prepare our bags ready for tomorrow. By 9:30 pm we were ready for bed.
Saturday, June 1, 2018
We woke up and finished packing. We had breakfast and got some coconut juice for the road. We were ready to go by 8:50 am. We drove through the Market of O’Rourck. O boy! Merchandise all over the mud, the garbage, squeezing on top of each other. I thought I was in a bad dream of Harry Potter pushing their wares in your face. At Petite Rivière we were stopped and asked money before we could proceed. There was a rope to block the street. Sr. Flora gave them some money and we were able to pass. Sr. had to go to Miragoane to buy wood for the closet. We had to stop at Siege Sound de Cosmi-coop. We reached Carefour Dufor et de l’Amitie finally at 12:12. We got to the gas station to get Dr. Brea who took a few minutes to get from Fondwa to reach us on the main road to Jacmel. We had planned to meet her so that she could spend a week-end with us as we forgot to cancel her services for the medical fair that was supposed to have taken place. The hotel is located in Caye Jacmel close to Carole’s new place. We ordered food when we got there, Dr. Brea was very specific about not having any hot pepper close to her food as she is allergic. We were really hungry. Babeth went in the water while I walked on the beach. It is so dirty not only with some garbage but dried algae’s and fresh ones. I talked about the cleanliness of the beach with a nearby guard. He said if people do not eat, how could they think about cleaning the beach. I bought a bracelet from a youth who was selling artisanal articles. Pierre was given some mangoes for us. I shared with everyone. We stayed by the beach for a while until it got dark.
We three women shared one room and Pierre and the driver shared the other. We were so grateful to Carole for making the arrangements for us. Babeth chose the side of bed she wanted and I went to sleep. Sr. was already in her bed. By 10 pm, all lights were turned off.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
During the night, it rained really hard. I could hear the sound of the ocean’s waves as well. Finally, at 6 am I woke quietly trying not to awake anyone. Showered and went to the front desk to ask for coffee. I saw Patrice, Carole’s cousin and owner of the hotel. I sat by our room to pray and do my readings. I knocked at Pierre’s room and asked him if he wanted some coffee. He would have to put a shirt on, wash his face, and brush his hair before coming for the cup of coffee although there was no one around our space. For breakfast, we were served omelets with everything in it with bread, kowosòl juice and more coffee. Patrice told us some funny stories on how he came to build his hotel which was completed by the day of the earthquake; his father’s involvement with building the Jacmel main road. We stayed for a couple of hours in the hotel before taking a tour of downtown Jacmel. At 12:40 we were at Fondwa. After stopping to buy some fruits at Dekouze, Pierre had an argument with a street vendor. She screamed at him not to take pictures of her stand if not buying or she will break his camera. Pierre went into a rage. He said: “just say do not take pictures. What right would you have to break my camera?” Where ever he is they called him ‘blanc’ because of his coloring, a wide rim hat and his camera. We had to calm him down. On our way away from that area we noticed that the car’s wind-chill had been punctured either with a small rock or Bibi gun. We stopped again to get the bottle of water for the cooler. We arrived in Anse-a-Veau at 3:15 pm. We had dinner “rice and beans”, chicken with nuts. Babeth said it had ‘piman’ and refused to eat.
Mr. Jean Altine and his wife came to visit me. They wanted me to convey their thanks to the individuals who for the past two years had supported their daughter, Abcinad, by paying her tuition and supplies to attend medical school. She was recently robbed after school. They took her laptop, her school uniform, and other papers in her bag. The parents said that they were grateful that she is alive. Now the trend in some areas is to spy on university students leaving school to mug and violate them. As soon as the school year is over, they will share her grades with us.
Babeth woke up from her hammock and said she was hungry. The sisters told her that the personnel are off on Sunday afternoon. They offered her bread and jam. They said they had eggs. She said she would love to have a couple. The guardian went to the chicken coop and brought her three eggs. She asked for oil, salt, and utensil and cooked them. Sr. Myrlande had to fire the gas stove top for her because she feels nervous in opening the gas tank. She also got an avocado. She ate it all then after washing her dishes, she went back to her hammock satisfied. I am glad she can adjust to where she is.
Sr. Flora again mentioned the need to write a proposal to find help to support the cantine. She has to make a new gas installation for the kitchen for two reasons: 1) the charcoal is too difficult to find and is expensive; 2) to protect the environment by having less trees cut. She has 4 gas tanks ‘bonbòn’ of 100 pounds each to cook daily for the children. It cost 1,000 gdes for each bonbòn or 4,000 gdes every 15 days. This means about $45 us or about $90 per month. She will need some contribution to enable her to cook the food for the children. This is an additional cost which would require one or more sponsors to ensure the students daily feeding.
In the evening, Pierre and Babeth spent time watching family pictures. I just went to bed.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Woke up at 5:50 am. Showered, got dressed and went for coffee. Today is my older brother’s birthday. His funeral was celebrated the day of Haiti’s earthquake in Colorado. I prayed for him and his family. Afterwards I woke Babeth and told her we would be living at 8 am. We had breakfast (fruits-pineapples, water melon, banana; herring in sauce, and spaghetti (absolute worst breakfast for me). Abel, our driver, was at the gate promptly at the appointed time. That is when Pierre needed a bottle of water and he forgot his shoes delaying our departure. We stopped by Mr. Esperance Berard Morel’s hotel and bar in Jubilee for an interview. We also visited Kettia’s school, Les Etoiles as she had made some additions since our last visit last year. We had to go through the rocky roads, really shaking your inside, to reach the offices of Caritas, Life Teen and Plaj Lakay. Fr. Franky was having a meeting with his staff under the main tree, we looked at the hotel rooms just built for volunteers and ministers. There is a new director at Life Teen named Franky. We said hello before passing by the Madian Beach. We saw the sign for the ‘Ferme Agricole’ and asked if we could give them an interview. They have huge land with all types of fruit trees and such a range of animals—chickens, geese, vultures, peacock, goats, pigs, a crocodile… It had rained the night before. The pathways were muddy and filled with animal excrements. The manager, Marie Rose Dextra Laguerre, was very hospitable. They had just picked a papaya and she gave it to us although we wanted to buy it from her. We complimented her and her agronomist husband for the work they are doing. Dr. Brea suggested she eats some of the papaya seeds and water melon seeds for her health.
We returned toward Anse-a-Veau in the direction of Baconois. I wanted to introduce Dr. Brea to Christine Mathurin, known as Madan Nènè, in Rocher Laval she is an organic fanatic and has her own bee hives. We bought her l’Antillaise, biomel drink. Babeth did not want to leave, she was copying the names of the books being shown to her by Mrs. Nènè on plants of Haiti. I got some morenga seeds which she swallows one daily to prevent diabetes. She gave Pierre some of her pure honey. We continued on to Petit Trou where I wanted Pierre to visit the colonial chapel and the well-organized Laferrière library. We left the square around 3:32 pm and arrived in Anse-a-Veau at 4:35 pm. As soon as I got at the house, I had to shower and wash my clothes. I felt the dirty water of the crocodile pool had splattered on me. I also wash my sneakers. Then when we felt cleaned and refreshed, we got some food. It was a mayi moulen cake with chick and black bean sauce. Babeth, Pierre, and I ate the whole thing. Then we sat on the gallery to go over our experience for the day. Filienne came to visit. I gave her a stipend for the day she spent with me at L’Etang Rey. I walked toward the church to hear and participate in the last prayers for the day. Babeth, Pierre, and I stayed on the gallery for some time then at 9:30 pm I turned in. I read for a while and then went to sleep.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Night was peaceful. Woke up and got out of bed at 6 am. Sr. Mirlande went to Port-au-Prince yesterday. Sr. Flora left very early this morning. Sister Angeline is left in charge of the school and everything else. I talked to Malou, my friend and Alix, my junior HS classmate. Jocelyne, my former sister-in-law called to find out how Pierre was managing after forty years away from the country. We had a breakfast of fresh fruits, plaintain and yam with liver in sauce. We sat on the gallery to cool down. It felt very hot. After lunch of legume, white rice and bean sauce, we planned to go to the cemetery at 2 pm to find Pierre’s father tomb. It started to drizzle while we reached the area and it then began to pour. We stayed while Pierre try to remove the ‘breziliyèn’ a kind of wild vine plant. The rain stopped and we went back to the house. On the route, some school kids called my husband ‘blanc’. I told them that I am a native and that this is my husband’s land as much as theirs. I still don’t get it when they act like that. It gets me upset to see this divide. I had to get a shower to wash away the mud and rained on clothes. I sat on the gallery with Sr. Angeline and I talked about our experience as catechist in our own local churches. I shared with her the retreat I conducted during lent for the Affiliées de Marie from 9 to 4 on the “Body of Christ”. I learned a lot in preparation of the presentations. I explained the different biblical reference and activities done in small groups. Later on, in the evening, I updated my financial sheets indicating all the expenses incurred during the trip. Because there was wi-fi at the sisters, I was able to check my regular US What’s App number. Fr. Elisca of Plaisance du Sud called me on my Haiti What’s app number. I wanted to know if he was happy with his tabernacle, light stands, candle holders purchased from the Diocese of Brooklyn storage for him. His church is still in need of a roof. I promised to send him the information about From Here to Haiti and Pax Christi of Colorado. Then I went to the church for the Holy Spirit Novena. After the prayer, I walked to the rectory to introduce Pierre to Fr. Louis Merosne, the pastor of St. Anne Cathédrale. We had a good conversation about all what CORA wanted to do for the town. As Father Louis is our liaison for the Bishop of the diocese, I complained about some things specifically the state of neglect of the university, the appalling appearance of the Salle Paroissiale, and no apparent church preparation of the town for 2021 as we had discussed in 2012. He shared with us an incident that happened for the first time in the town. A parish came to get the food from the storage of Food for the Poor that is maintained by the Cathédrale. A group of people attacked them and took all the food from them. Apparently, some people living in the back of the church were also participants in this occurrence. After we left the rectory, we talked for a short while. Dr. Brea went to her room before they release the dogs in the yard. Pierre stayed on the gallery to sip some ‘kremas’ while I went to bed.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
I woke up early but stayed in bed and prayed, going in and out of sleep. I finally got out of bet at 6:10 am. I quickly got dressed, we had an appointment with Mr. Martin at 8 am in the cemetery. While Pierre was getting ready and looking for a machete to cut the vines, I had some coffee. I was excited that Mr. Martin would be confirming the tomb we had cleared, would be the one. When we got to the cemetery, he told us we were mistaken although I was sure it was the one, he had pointed to us two years ago. He showed two small sandy tombs covered with the Breziliyèn. They look practically impossible to clean. Pierre tentatively tried to no avail to see the top. We gave up. Mr. Martin suggested we hire someone to clean both. That is when we realized he might not be sure of anything. Pierre lost his footing machete in hand. I ran to him and grabbed it from him. He made a few pictures of the area. We returned to the house disappointed. However, I am sure that Henry, Pierre’s father’, must have appreciated our efforts to honor him. The locals looked at me surprised walking the street with the machete in hand. When we got to the house, we had a good breakfast – mayi moulen with legume and sliced avocado. It was also served with fresh fruit: apricot, pineapples, mangoes with Kowosòl juice. I froze some of the juice for later. After washing our dishes, I brought a book “Go and Do the Same” by Dr. Mortel and Fr. Philippe’s number in Fondwa for Fr. Louis next door. I also promised to do something about the salle paroissiale that I called a sore-eye on the road to the university and Cathédrale. I told him when I see a problem, I try to solve it. Yves d’Or and Renaldo, two Renesansavo participants and members of Teen Life came to work with him. They said they are ready to write a proposal and accomplish it if they find the proper funding. Immediately the idea came into my mind, if I send Fr. Louis money to fix the salle paroissiale these young men could take charge of the project working with the youth of the town to accomplish this task. I will stipulate that when I send the check.
We sat most of the day on the gallery. Dinner was served late almost 4 pm – fried fish and rice and bean. Sr. Myrlande gave me a few envelopes to put some donation for the personnel. I found small gifts to give the sisters and the personnel. Babeth gave me some money and I completed it to cover her stay at the sisters. I cleaned the table with vinegar to try to diminish the flies but it did not work. When I send him the money, I will ask Fr. Louis to use these two young people to take charge of this project in conjunction with the youth of the town.
At 5:30 pm I decided to go with Babeth to the Bells tower before going to mass. I heard the reading and the psalm while outside. After the mass and Holy Spirit novena, Fr. Louis wanted to talk to me. He proposed that I attend an event in Platsdeutche and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land which will contribute to Haiti’s priests’ retirement funds. I promised to consider it if I get the information needed. Mr. Martin came after mass one day to plead with me to support his complaint about a misrepresentation done by a religious TV program for the diocese which presented Miragoane among the churches of the diocese and not St. Anne, the true mother church. He reminded me that the Pope chose St. Anne to be the Cathédrale for the Diocese of Nippes and Miragoane is the co-Cathédrale.
Later that day, I asked the sisters to put the reception before not after mass on the 7th because everyone would be here at 3 pm and won’t have to come back later. We will attend mass by ourselves. I went to the room at 9 pm, I felt tired.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Woke up early in the am and could not fall back to sleep. Guess because I am in unfamiliar territory, any sound triggers some type of discomfort. I stayed in bed until 6 am. Got up, dressed and went for coffee and prayer. I like being on the gallery and looking at this plush nature of trees and plants-communing with nature in its diverse beauty. I spent hours cleaning the gift of Djondjon given by the Jeantine. Hope I will be able to travel with it. I prepared two separate bags: one with the heads only and another complete with the branches. Babeth help this process while listening to music. I saw Marc Henry chopping down the olive tree (morenga). He told me Sr. Flora did not want it to be higher than the wall. I ask him to give the leaves to the cook to prepare a salad. She did serve it as an overcooked vegetable. After an early lunch, I went to sat on the gallery on the other side of the house facing the ocean. It felt cooler with a sea breeze. I like the house because the gallery is all around the house except where they built a wall to prevent access from the front area to the back. In the afternoon, Filienne came to do her training with Dr. Brea. She gave all the materials Filienne would need to become familiar with on matter of care. In the afternoon, we walked to Kettia’s house to borrow the library books I had brought for her. After showing them to Sr. Angeline, Filienne promised to return the package to Kettia’s school. Dr. Brea and I went to Jean Vanel’s house to see the child he felt was sick and needed medical attention. After some questions to her and the family, Dr. Brea believes the child had worms and lacking in proper nutrients. She suggested the medication (Albendazol 400 mg or Mebendazol 100 mg) and types of food the child would need to sustain her. She wrote the medication down with the proper instruction on how to take it and for how long. She gave them some idea for her daily diet. After the consultation, we walked to the hospital to find out if they would be able to give the child the medicine. The nurses Ms. Mariette and Ms. Daphne told us there would be no problem and also that the hospital has a nutrition center for malnourished children. We walked back to the church. Assisted the end of the novena to the Holy Spirit. At the house, I showed Sr. Angeline the books I authored and how to use them. I promised to send her my play “Bwat Lamayòt” and the translation of the Divine Mercy in Kreyòl. Then I took some time to go over the “Centre Jevenile” with Sr. Mirlande. She showed me what would be needed to have well equipped classes for each field of training offered. The sisters had ordered food. Pierre ate the whole plate and some banana porridge. I took a few plaintains and drank a lot of water. I shared by plate with Wedlene. Babeth had a class with Sr. Mirlande on cooking. This was the first night we went to bed very late. I asked to set up the class registration list for her on Excel.
Friday, June 7, 2019
I was dreaming that Philip, my son, was in a hospital. I don’t know for what. He witnessed some attendant selling drugs and reported it. He had to go to court. I was scared that the people at the hospital knowing this fact would treat him badly. However, he told me if I visit with him to bring some Haitian Food. Pierre came toward the bed to wish me a happy anniversary and woke me up. I decided to get dressed and go for coffee and prayer. I had a special intention of thanksgiving for my family. We had breakfast of fresh fruits, chocolate, and bread. We tried to clean the tables for this afternoon, they were all covered with flies. We tried Clorox water, then pure vinegar, and even Listerine. Nothing worked permanently to get rid of these annoying insects. We are in mango seasons. Sr. Myrlande brought some begone which was effective. While arrangement was being prepared for the luncheon, I set up an excel sheet with a tab for each field of study with first, last name, and payment schedule. Within two hours, I had the students name entered using the data on the word documents. I like setting files and using this program.
At 2 pm, I felt so sleepy I went to get a nap. At 3:00 pm I got ready. When Mrs. Leblanc came by at 3:30 pm we called the personnel to come and eat. After Sr. Flora said grace, Pierre served himself, Mrs. Leblanc, Jean Vanel, and everyone else. Pierre was waiting for me to sit down instead of passing plates to everyone. We offered soft drink to everyone as well as prestige. Claudette came a little late because she had returned home not knowing we had changed the time. I gave each member of the personnel and the sisters a little gift item and a few people a tip for their services while at the house. By 5 pm everyone had left and chairs put away and table cloth collected and paper plates thrown away. At 6:30 pm, we walked over to the church for the mass where we had made arrangements for an intention for our 50-year anniversary. The celebrant was a guest priest on that day. He did not know us and stated “congratulation to the couple who has been married for 50 years” and during the prayer of the faithful repeated the same thing. Thank goodness I had already made arrangements in my parish to have the intention of the mass celebrated at the 8:30 am mass for us. It was published in the bulletin and all the parishioners when they heard the intention, prayed for us. [This was later reported to me when I returned from the trip]. We did not feel bad about not receiving a special blessing here as they do in my parish as we had already attended the Brooklyn Diocesan wedding anniversary celebrations on May 18th. When we returned to the house, the sisters, Babeth, Pierre and I had some cake and we thanked the sisters for their hospitality for the past days.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
At about 1 am the electricity shut down because the solar system was not so charged because of continues rains and cloudy days. By 4:30, we got out of bed to get dressed and pack up the last items into our bags. We went for coffee and we found the breakfast of lanbi and plaintain and yams already boxed to go. Dr. Brea decided she wanted to eat right there. We loaded the car with our suitcases and the gallon of water bottles to be filled in Port-au-Prince later. We left the house at 6:15 am. When we got to Petite-Rivière past Manolo’s hotel, close to Dupuy a group of young men literally cut a ditch in the road from one side to the other. It would be impossible to go through. There was another car stopped a little ahead of us. We backed-up and someone said we could use the detour by the kenep tree. We said we had just past by and there was what seem like an accident. It was not, a box car had been placed there and more tree trunks were being added to its side to completely block the passage. We made a u-turn trying to see if we could find someone by Manolo’s. There was no one. We thought of returning to Anse-a-Veau and go through another town like l’Asile. That would be a very long detour.
Sister and the driver recognize a driver going in the direction of the barricade. We try to follow thinking both of us could go at the same time. But they did not go far. The young demonstrators started throwing rocks and bottles. We backed-up again. We saw a man passing by. Sister asked him: Do you know another route to get out to the main road? These people here have to travel today, that is the reason we took the road early. He said to wait. Babeth was saying maybe we could find a road through the beach area. Sister insisted that one of the drivers had told her there was another route, she did not remember if it was by the school further down the road. She tried to call him on the phone with no luck. The man returned with a young man with dreads described as one of the organizers. He said he could show us a way out because we have an emergency but he has to ride with us. Another young man on a motorcycle told the one entering the car not to go. Then he started to talk animatedly to someone on the phone while riding along the car for a while. Two things came to my mind: 1) that we were going to be led to an ambush or 2) he really was going to lead us away in the right direction. I prayed and ask the Holy Spirit to take over. I started to talk to the young man asking him for his name: He said he was Cherubin of the 3rd communal section. We asked him why cut the road? He answered that the mayor of Petite Rivière, Mrs. Manolo, had received funds for the town and not using it for the purpose it was appropriated for such as improving the roads, the schools and economic opportunities for the youth. I said I could give him an interview to be videotaped. He refused but he accepted to tell me about himself. He comes from a family of ‘ebenist’ (carpenters) but he learned informatique (computers). He has a child 11 years old enrolled at SESA. He used the detour in the mountain narrow pathway very rocky, hilly, and muddy with cliff sometimes on both sides. We were stopped again by a small group of women, 2 young men and children with a big tree trunk across the way. Cherubin argued with the two young men. Finally, they walked away angrily. He let us pass and pointed the route to the main road pass by Visitation Hospital. Sr. helped me by giving me some money to give to him discreetly for going out of his way for us.
Sr. Flora asked him for his telephone number because she has to come back after she drops us. By 7:22 am, we were finally free to get on our way on the main road. When we reached Vialet’s market, we found traffic for more than 20 minutes. We passed it by 8:20 am. Finally, we reached Carrefour Dufort where Babeth was meeting with her adoptive son who came to pick her up on his motorcycle to bring her to Fondwa. We all used the store’s restroom at the gas station while the car was filling up. I ate my breakfast after the rest. There was too much vegetables, I could not finish it. Pierre ate all of his. We stopped again to buy chicken feed in Gressier. Sister had to go by the General Hospital area to pick up the copies being made for school exams. We went through Champs de Mars to Delmas. There was so much traffic we were moving very slow pace. Sr. Flora was looking for glass for the cabinets. Tired, I told Sr. we need to get on the road to Fermathe because it is not close by. The traffic did not let up in Petionville until we started climbing by Laboule. We took the wrong fork on the road to Fort Jacques by the Church. We made a U-turn until I stayed on the phone with the people from the Auberge to guide us to the right gate. There was no sign to indicate the way. Finally, we reached the steep hill to the hotel at 1:15 pm. Before leaving, Sr. asked for some mint and ‘melis’ tea plants. Not long after the cook served us dinner: white rice and legume and boiled plantain from the garden. Later in the evening Yanick and Ronald came to visit. While they were with us, Claude and Evelyne called. I asked them to video called instead. They were surprised to see their respective brother and sister with us already. What marvel from Canada to Haiti, we were able to be together for a little while. After they left, we watched their car travel down from the hotel to the main street. We were served some tea that we ate with the wedding cake we had brought with us from yesterday. There was wi-fi, I watched all my messages on my international what’s app. By 9:30 pm we went to our room. Pierre sat down while to listen his radio, I lied down grateful that we had made it here and fell asleep.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Woke up around 2 am. Pierre was having stomach problems. I believe it was the drink he had last night. I could not fall back to sleep thereafter. I prayed but was restless. At 6 am, I decided to get up, wash my face and went down for some coffee. We are the only guests in the hotel. I went back upstairs to pray facing the mountain from our balcony. I rearrange some items in the suitcase and prepared my clothes for mass. I showered, got dressed and went for breakfast. We had eggs ham, cheese, toasted bread and watermelon. I got what I needed to go to mass. We had to walk for a few minutes down the steep hill and to the bottom of the mountain to be at St. Jacques of Fort Jacques. There were two guests priests celebrating. We arrived right after the first reading. One of the priests seems familiar. When I shook his hand after mass, he said he had not seen me for a while—Rev. Jean Kenel Erinac. After mass, we went to the Baptiste mission. I kept saying Thumbull but they use his first name Wallace instead. The store was closed. We want back to the Auberge. Pierre was watching a soccer game – England, Switzerland. Lunch was served: ‘mayi moulen gwo tèt’, bean sauce, and goat meat in sauce. I was watching Matilda, a film based on Roald Dahl’s work I had read and watch with my daughter. In French, it sounded like the name of the characters described their personalities. When lunch was served, I just wanted to continue watching. Another movie started right after but was quickly interrupted for the next soccer match. We watched the final match of Portugal vs Netherland. Frederique D called. He was going to stop by for a short visit. He came with his wife Marie Paul H who knew my brother, Martial, when he lived in Brooklyn at Schenck Ave. near New Lots station in Brooklyn. Marie Paul is a Eucharist minister at St. Jacques and he works with the priest in the construction of the church in Soison. After they left, I watch a movie before going to bed. I was the last one downstairs but everything had already been locked.
Monday, June 10, 2010
I was unable to sleep and felt an oncoming headache. I could hear voices in the area at about 2 am. I heard two-gun shots. Finally, at 4 am everything became quiet. I was able to sleep peacefully. I think I was restless before because of all the unrest in the country, attacks, and manifestation. The demands of the people are legitimate but I cringe at the manner they express their discontent by burning, attacking with rock, and breaking indiscriminately. The manner of the protest seems to be horrendous but so is a continuous lack of opportunity for job, education, life free of garbage. However, people do not hear what is being asked in face of violence. I finally got out of bed by 5:50 am and went downstairs for coffee at 6:15. I was there before Credine came to serve it. Went back upstairs to pray. From our balcony, there was such heavy fog that covered the whole view of the mountains. We were disconnected to city activities where we were located. We called Natalie to find out how she was doing and show her where we were. She was happy to hear from us. Pierre and I decided to go to the Church and at Wallace’s place. Mass was scheduled for 12 noon. When we got to the mission, it was closed again. They usually are closed on Sundays and Mondays we were told today. Pierre stayed to take pictures at the museum while I returned to the church for the mass. There were five people but the priest preached as if there were 50 people present. We returned to the Auberge but Pierre had to stop several times to catch his breath, he was winded climbing the hills. Lunch was ready – kilbasa sausages, white rice and red bean sauce. I save some of the juice served for tonight. Then we called Patrick and showed him where we were staying. That is when he told us that Hailey had graduated from JHS (8th grade) and was going to HS. The children really do grow fast. We communicated with Malou, Dr. Brea, Sr. Flora, and Sr. Martha to find out if they were all well. I also communicated with Sandra. I will talk to her tomorrow. Therese called being her usual self. A defender of the people in some ways being blinded by her negative experiences with the political scene in her environment. I hope she gets to see the changes she fought to implement when she was active and involved. I decided to go to bed early.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
I slept better and woke up only a few short times. Finally, at 6:15 am, I got up. I asked Pierre to get me some coffee from downstairs. It was not ready. It took sometime today to be ready. I watched the mountain view and the houses built in very high places. I prayed then took a long shower before going downstairs. I knew the time here was coming to an end and wanted to do everything practically in slow motion. Breakfast was served at 8:45 – codfish and plaintain. Then I took some time to listen to the local news to find out if we would be able to travel the next day. While sluggishly moving around, Sandra, my little sister, called. She wanted to visit. I gave her directions. Pierre had gone to Kenscoff but came not long after her arrival. She is so well put together. Her presence is impressive. I admire her for her strong will and confidence. We had very interesting conversations about our lives, our families, my community work in Anse-a-Veau, and her political career. She only wanted to drink coffee. I ask that some be prepared for her and Pierre. Lunch was served while she was there, we offered her, and she only had a taste. She left at 3:15 pm. I was really glad of the moment shared; this does not happen often. We tried to pre-check for out flight but were not able to complete the task in order to print the boarding pass. We went to our room early to pack up. There was a strong smell of incense coming from downstairs.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
We both woke up several times during the night. Although we had set up the alarm for 5:30 am. Reynold, our driver for the Auberge, knocked at our door at 5:15 am. I was already awake but waiting for the buzz to get up. I immediately showered, got dressed and went downstairs within 20 minutes to drink my coffee while Pierre was still getting ready. The cook had toasted some bread, and prepared an omelet for us. We wrapped everything plus the two bananas she had purchased for us yesterday. We made sure we gave an envelope to Credine and Gregg and thank them for the service they had provided while we were here. We kept the one for Reynold to hand it to him at the airport. We left the hotel at 5:53 am. The roads were clear of cars and people. Once in a while we could see the ‘vestiges’ of yesterday’s tire burning, tree branches, or rocks in the area of Pelerin and in parts of Delma. The driver who lives in Museau used many local roads. By 6:56 we were at the airport. We thanked him. A porter helped us find the right line and held our two suitcases until we reached the roped area for check in. We gave him his tip and patiently waited our turn to the counter. We were so early it did not matter how long it would take. We were in the airport terminal safe and sound. I drank my little bottle of water before approaching the security line. While on that line, we met a couple who had just gotten married, 17 days ago. We told them to hang to each other like we did for 50 years. Pierre Swiss army complete tool and 1-inch nail scissors were ceased. He forgot to put them in the suitcase instead of the carry-on. We went upstairs to buy the rhum. I am glad he was able to see Marie Alix Renaud, a friend from Anse-a-Veau. She had him talk to another relative PIerre had not seen for more than 40 years. I also bought one bottle and some mini ones for gifts. We sat by the restaurant upstairs to eat our breakfast. Pierre bought a drink (fanta). I walked around to buy some artisanal craft for my trip to Paris and also for my grandchildren. I went downstairs to locate Pierre. As I could not see him, I returned upstairs. I met Philip who works with David Duchatellier. We also met Mrs. Saurel who has a hotel in Belot near Kenskoff called Le Montcel Hotel. She lives in Canada. Yanick called to find out how we were doing. She mentioned that her friend, Mrs. Lamour, had finally made it to the airport for her flight to Canada in the afternoon. I called Sr Flora, Ronald, Sandra to reassure them all that we were doing ok and were ready to go home. At 12:30 we went downstairs for the airline security. The machines were not working. Our bags, carry on were checked manually. At 1:04 we were on the plane ready to depart. We got in NY at 5 pm without any incident. We went to the kiosk to fill the immigration forms and submit our passports to get the confirmations that we handed to the agents. We had to walk a lot within the airport to find the taxi stand. We praised God for reaching home after the taxi ride. I found a pile of mail in the box although we had asked to have the mail delivery stopped. We called Mr. L. to find out if he was the one who had dropped the mail for us today. He said no. He would drop what he had collected for us in the am. Pierre called our children to tell them we were home. Then I began to put things away and getting other items out that we had stowed away. Praise be to God we are home! We were thankful to all the people who helped us through this trip. We sent them notes to let them know we were back.
This particular journey has ended. My husband says to all who ask him about his trip to the country after forty years: “I came and I saw. You have to experience it.” Why do I keep going every year although I don’t notice expected improvements? True, we each come with our past experiences, our personal desires, and motivations. When I witness inequalities and contradictions as it exists in Haiti, I become disappointed not only in the situation but my powerlessness to address it. In those moments, what looms in my mind is the Gospel of St. Luke 9:11-17 particularly “Give them something to eat YOURSELVES.” In the passage Jesus ask the disciples to organize the 5,000 men in groups of 50 so that they can be fed the 5 loaves and 2 fish. After sharing these apparent meager staples, there were 12 baskets leftover. There was a community of believers led by Jesus to care for the many. I am to remain in Him and He in me (Jn 6:13) and trust that He calls others to make a difference.
The pictures of the expectant boy with a handmade toy reminds me (us) there is life. He only needs opportunities…