Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hope

Three years ago, the country of Haiti was rocked by a devastating earthquake. I had been to Haiti in November before the earthquake hit in January. My friend Jamalyn was in the country with a mission team on that January day, and we spent several tense days waiting for word of their safety. I wrote about it here.

In Fondwa, the damage was great, as the school, guesthouse, and many homes were destroyed in a matter of minutes. Since that day, Fondwa, and much of Haiti, has been slowly rebuilding.

I had the opportunity to return to Haiti this past November. We landed in Port au Prince, and I noted several changes at the airport, which has been renovated since the earthquake. The drive through Port au Prince looked much the same as I remembered it. The tent cities are mostly gone, and the city is crowded with people, trash, the occasional animal, and the smells that accompany them.

It is always a relief to arrive in the mountains of Fondwa, where it is quiet and the air is fresh and clean.

The photo below shows our accommodations for the week. The women stayed in bunks in this building. It had a wooden floor, and a few sliding wood panels for windows. We took some woven rugs and battery operated fans, which added to our comfort. A flush toilet and two showers were just up the hill. We used our headlamps to navigate any night time trips to the potty. :)

This is the 'dining hall.' We ate our meals together here. Breakfast usually included hard boiled or scrambled eggs, fruit (oranges, grapefruit, bananas), homemade peanut butter, and delicious hot chocolate. For lunch and dinner, we ate a variety of meals which included chicken, beef, goat, fried plantains, rice & beans, vegetables (carrots, delicious green beans, beets, potatoes), soup, and a yummy oatmeal type dish.

This is a video of our group singing the blessing in Kreyol.
Manje sa a, ou voye ba nou an papa,
Manje ki bay lavi.
(This food, which comes from God,
This food gives us life.) 
video

Jesula is one of the neighbors in Fondwa. She is the mother of five, and my friend. Their house was destroyed in the earthquake. I was so happy to see their new home, and she proudly gave me a tour. She loves to welcome guests.

The children welcomed Margaret.

The team gathered in this new little shelter, made of wood and concrete, before heading down to the orphanage.

It is sad to see the rubble from the old guesthouse. While some has been cleared away, it is a slow and difficult process.


And down the hill, we could see the blue rooftops of the new orphanage. The old orphanage was significantly damaged, and is no longer usable. I like that the new one is in a spot that gets lots more sunlight. It has a concrete play area for jump rope and soccer, and another area with new playground equipment.

In the mornings, we head down to the school. I am not known to be a morning person, yet it is probably my favorite time of day in Haiti. We are awakened by the roosters, who actually start crowing around 3 am. And did you know the crow of a rooster sounds exactly like "I'm a roo-ster!" I promise, now that I've shared that, you'll never hear a rooster again without thinking of it. "Er er errrr er!" My mornings include an invigorating cold shower, the Haitian hair dryer (air dry), breakfast, and the walk to school. I love watching and greeting students and teachers arriving from all directions on the rocky mountain roads. "Bonjou! Koman ou ye?"

It was emotional for me to see the school yard for the first time, with the old building gone. After the earthquake, school resumed almost immediately, with classes meeting in tents or outdoors. Before long, work teams built simple wooden buildings where classes are held. The rooms are small, and the walls are thin, and it can seem like chaos with 30 third graders sitting elbow to elbow on benches doing recitation, while a fourth grade teacher is presenting a math lesson in a similar room next door.

It is encouraging to see the progress they have made on the new school, which will eventually be three levels. The lower level is almost complete, and they hope to have the building finished for the start of school next fall.

In the background, you can see the building that houses the lower grades, with the construction of the new school in the foreground.

Bos Ednor, Jesula's husband, is the project manager. He is updating Jamalyn on the progress, and giving her instructions for those in our group that were helping with construction. I was not one of those. :) I am happy to do my job with a camera in my hand. No shovels for me!

A couple of the older boys take a look at the progress.

Jamalyn in front of the new 'school.'

Getting ready to pour concrete.

Deb and Eric, from our group, are busy shoveling sand into buckets to haul across the school yard in a wheelbarrow to mix the concrete.

Then there was the huge dump truck (not quite sure how it even got there) right in the middle of the school yard.

It was good entertainment for the children during recess, but I can't help but wonder what OSHA would have to say about it.

It was great to see the progress, and I pray that it will continue on schedule, and welcome students next fall.

This is Jesula's dad, Cine (pronounced See-nay). On my first trip to Haiti, we had to leave Fondwa on foot in a driving rainstorm, which turned out to be a hurricane. Cine took my hand and pulled me up the mountain. Without him, I might still be there in a wet heap. On the day of the earthquake, his leg was cut so badly, that it had to be amputated. I cried when I saw him walk in on his prosthetic leg. He moves a bit slower now, but he still does some work, and helps supervise the projects. I even have pictures of him dancing with Margaret, which I will post at some point. He is just one of the beautiful friends living in Haiti.
                                 

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)



But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, 
whose hope is in the Lord their God. 
Psalms 146:5 (NLT)

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