West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

A stick of gum, a bottle of lemonade

The days in Haiti are so long and packed with activities it’s hard to remember at the end of the day what I actually did this morning.  After Morning Prayer on the lovely shaded patio, and several cups of delicious Haitian coffee, Sam and Ginny and I got a ride to Santo.  It’s only 15 minutes away from this guest house.  Each morning when we arrive, we find the children eating breakfast in the pavilion.  The large wooden structure provides shade and has many wooden tables and benches.  Yolene, Auguste, Margaret, Diana, and a new kid named Damenly are happy to see us. Diana and I have a singing repertoire that includes Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Frere Jacques and Old MacDonald. I remember Drew taught her that song; she belts out  the chorus  and we both laugh.  

Sam and Ginny have had “Deaf Camp” this week. About 50 deaf students are bused from downtown to the new school at Santo every morning.  This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on traffic!  

Sam has worked with the children to get them to draw and imagine what they would like in their new space. They have a common language and the children have been very excited and engaged to participate in this creative time together.  

Aurelie and I left Santo to drive BACK to the downtown St Vincents medical clinic to meet two of the new doctors working there.  They are young and eager.  It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm about caring for the poor children and families who come to St Vincents.  There is no health insurance in Haiti, no disability payments, no social security system. Families can get medical care only if they pay for it.  If a child needs a brace or prosthetic device, St Vincents is the only affordable option for them. 

After that meeting, Père FanFan drove me BACK AGAIN to Santo.  Did I mention how long that takes?  I almost succumbed to car sickness after all this riding around in the heat. We arrived around 2:00 to see 50 children and their adult teachers waiting patiently in the pavilion for lunch to be served.   And waiting.  Jennifer gave me a stick of gum and a cool rag to help calm my queasy stomach. 

Finally at 3:00 the plates came, with rice and beans, mac and cheese, and salad. The Americans at this point were all melting in the heat, so we took our plates “to go” and piled into Père FanFans truck for the ride back to Eucalyptus guest house.  Sam and Ginny earned their Haiti credentials by riding in the back. Over gutted gravel roads in the afternoon sun.  Père FanFan handed me a bottle of Limonade, ice cold.  I could only manage a few sips, then Jennifer passed the bottle through the truck cab window to the grateful passengers in the back.  I heard Sam say “Oh my God WHERE DID THAT COME FROM”   I thought , not for the first time, that Haiti teaches me to be grateful for the little things.  Like a stick of gum and an ice cold bottle of Limonade. 


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