West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

An Insiders View of Haiti

Today I saw the wonderful new school and reconnected with many old friends.  Marie Carmelle gave me a tour, including the bedrooms which are filled with natural light.  The old site had dark shadowy airless closet spaces filled with bunk beds.  The new rooms are light and airy, and have shiny tile floors and decorative stone on some of the walls.

Diana, Susan and Margaret

Marie Carmelle pointed out to me that there are not enough fans.  Only one ceiling fan per room is not enough to circulate the hot air.  Don’t I know it, having spent last evening sweating at the guest house. 

Bill Craddock came through and promised to have more fans placed by the end of the week. That’s what I call real time solutions.  God Bless Bill Craddock!

We also noticed repairmen breaking up a curb and turning the pathway into a smooth access for wheelchairs.  Clearly there are active changes still going on to make the place comfortable for the handicapped residents. May I say that the concrete work took place in the 95 degree heat and full sun of the day. 

Speaking of heat, have you ever ridden inside a taptap?

Today I asked Mackenson to take me to his apartment which he plans to rent for the coming year. He has moved out of St Vincents, where he grew up, and has found a room near his medical school where he and his grandmother can live.  To get to his apartment from Santo 17 takes 3 tap taps.  The system is this. You stand at an intersection and wait for the next tap tap to stop.  In the US, the taxis line up and you get into the first one in the line. However, the tap taps board from the rear, so you choose the last one in line. You and about 12 other people.  My record today was 17 people, counting the lady sitting on the tire between the two rows of seats.  When the taptap is moving , all is well because there’s a breeze.  But there’s always “blokiss”(traffic) in PortauPrince, so stops are frequent. From inside the taptap you can see everything differently , than from the outside looking in.  Another passenger squeezing  in where there was no room before.  The road ahead of you with layers of people, wheelbarrows. Goats, street vendors. Driving straight down the sidewalk to bypass the traffic. 

Mackenson and Susan

 We ride on one street as far as we want to go and then get off at another intersection to catch the next taptap going down the cross-street. Repeat, until you arrive at your destination, or at least within walking distance. We walked about ten minutes and found his “apartment” which is one room about 8×10, with an adjoining room about 8×4.  He said that would be his dining room. 

It was fun to spend the day with this intelligent young man and hear his plans for the future.  He wants to be a doctor and help his people, especially handicapped people. He has to learn how to live on a budget , buy food, and all the things he never had to think about while living at St Vincents 

Returning the same route we came, the bonus was the last taptap which had loudspeakers inside the passenger area blasting Haitian rap music.  

Entire round trip:  4 hours. 

Well, the power just went out at the guest house, so the fans are off completely. 

We had a big thunderstorm this evening, the Haitian kind where the sound of the rain drowns out all conversation or any other activity. It requires that you stop whatever you doing and listen to the power of the storm 

I’ll leave this now.  I hope I have given you a taste of an insiders view of life in Haiti from one American who loves it all. 

Susan Nelson

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