West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Joy and Sadness

Sherye and I are in the Hotel Montana, having just enjoyed breakfast and tea on the patio and now in the airconditioned room taking a rest before going to St Vincent’s to see the kids.  It doesn’t feel like I’m in Haiti somehow, where uniformed staff bring bottled water to my room and we have television and air conditioning. 

Arrived last night in a heavy rainstorm.  Driving through Port au Prince at night is a different experience than our usual treks in the daytime.  We rode with the windows open, feeling the lovely breeze and the rain mist on our faces.  We chatted briefly with our driver in a mix of Kreyol and English, passing the usual Salon Beaute and FanFan Tire Shop and Loto stalls, with motorcycles driving towards us, in our lane, only to swerve out of the way at the last minute back into their own lane of traffic.  Headlights are the only lights on the street at night, now reflecting from the rain drenched streets.  Potholes are to be driven AROUND, not through, as they contain rivers of water. At one point our driver joked that his car was also a boat, as we drove/floated across one deep gully that crossed the entire road.  

We were shocked to pay $80 for the airport transfer to our hotel, and realized we should have negotiated that price BEFORE we left rather than after . Another lesson learned.  

I am excited to see the kids today.  This is an unexpected trip for me to Haiti, of course for the very sad reason that we have come for the funeral of JoJo.  But it is a treat nonetheless to be able to see the children.  We plan to spend the day at the school, and Pere Fan Fan has planned an evening event at the school tonight for story telling and sharing about JoJo.  That will be a sad and yet joyful time, celebrating the life of this amazing man who was a friend to all the children, staff and visitors of St Vincent’s and an example of what the human spirit can be.  Pere Fan Fan has asked me to say “a few words” on behalf of the Friends of St Vincent’s, the West Tennessee Haiti Partnership, Jacob’s Color Link and 100 Gardens.  All partners in helping the school.  We will join in our shared grief at the sudden loss of this incredible man, who only two weeks ago was helping the optometry team from Memphis.

Sherye and I have filled our water bottles and have our phone/cameras ready. I have brought prints of JoJo, sent to me by Sonya, to hand out as mementos for the children.  They have all grown up knowing JoJo their entire lives.   I am grateful to those who made it possible for us to come on this trip, especially Bishop Johnson who generously paid for our plane tickets.  Other folks like Diane Reddoch have donated to help defray our travel expenses, (like the $80 cab ride, YIKES) and I am grateful to you all.  We bring all of you with us.
Susan and Sherye at the Atlanta airport
Susan Nelson 
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