West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Continuing Reflections from Our Team in Haiti–Last Full Day in Haiti

Sunrise awoke us as usual, with the faint sounds of the ocean coming in the window. This morning another sweet sound woke us up; Jean Robert playing hymns on his violin. I actually got a recording of it. John, Drew and I sat and listened, on the concrete wall that sits at the top of the steps leading down to the rocky beach. We watched the fishermen putting out their nets and enjoyed the music.
After breakfast we all loaded into Pere Deravil’s truck for the trip to Port au Prince. All 11 of us in a Toyota truck, including JR and Pere Sadoni, the driver. I fortunately got one of the 4 inside seats.
As we got closer to PAP the traffic got worse, the crowds got thicker and the smell and dust got worse. We saw several tent cities and many crumbled buildings although most of the rubble has been cleared from the streets. You do still see piles of concrete where a building used to be, or part of a wall standing at a crazy angle.
We went to Holy Trinity Cathedral and were shocked and saddened to see this beautiful work of art in ruins. Drew and I embraced each other and wept. Its all down except the wall with the mural of The Last Supper and the Baptism of Jesus. These are covered with wooden beams to support the wall and keep it from crumbling further. Pere Sadoni told us there is a historical society which is working to preserve the remaining murals. There are huge cracks in this wall so it will be extremely difficult I imagine. John told me his “eye” was gone; the eye on the mural that was behind the altar. His first trip to Haiti during the church service he remembered a lot of the French hymns his grandmother had taught him, and told me he thought she was looking down on him from behind the altar.
Later we saw St Vincent’s school. The French army is there clearing the ruins with bulldozers. Margaret talked with the soldiers in French to explain who we were; I think she kept us out of trouble for taking pictures of their operation. They told her that when they find any bodies they stop and call someone about it. I forgot to ask Pere Sadoni what will happen to the 7 people buried there. Drew stood by the pile of rubble that was once part of the school, and committed their bodies to the earth. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia”

The griefs of the day came with joys too. We saw JoJo and Drew gave him a framed copy of Wendi Thomas’ article about him with his picture in the Commercial Appeal. This actually made it to Haiti intact, glass and all. JoJo hasn’t changed one bit, Drew says “he’s as full of himself as ever” which is the wonderful truth. There was a teacher’s meeting at the boys foyer, to prepare for starting school next week! All the kids now at Montrouis (17) will return to school as well as many students who are now with their families. There is active construction going on to build some new office and classroom space, funded by the Friends of St Vincent. We saw Lazar and I asked about his family; all are well. Pere Sadoni invited me to greet the teachers and I told them in creole: many people in America have been worried very much about them, that I was very glad to see all their faces and that Haiti has many friends in the US. Pere Sadoni congratulated me on my first speech in Creole.
We saw Elvie, who looks fine now but had a broken pelvis and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. We saw Adrian Kenson, one of the staff in a wheelchair, always friendly and smiling to greet us. We saw Dixie briefly and hugged her neck. Moliere greeted us also and said his family was safe. The woman now caring for baby Margaret brought her to us so Allie could see her. Allie had a bag of baby clothes for era; I think she changed her outfit every 20 minutes for a different photo. Margaret is growing and her skin is smooth and beautiful. She will have her shunt placed by a team coming from Jacksonville Florida to PAP in early May, then stay with this same woman for recovery before returning to St Vincent’s.

sent from Haiti by Dr. Susan Nelson
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