Merging Worlds

Have you ever fallen in love with a place? Not just the physical beauty of the location, but the soul; the profound feeling you get inside, the overwhelming need to stay. The aching need to make that place part of you, and you part of it. January 2009 in Haiti I experienced just that feeling. Haiti continues to have a deeply profound affect on me. A third world country that on the surface appears to have very little in common with my life style here, grabbed my heart and soul. On My first trip to Haiti, I experienced culture shock: no running water, no electricity, and extreme poverty. Slowly I began to see Haiti in a different light. My two worlds began to merge, and surprisingly have much in common.
I bought your ticket, sit beside me and join me on my trips to Haiti. Trips full of merging worlds, survival, and joy marked with sadness.
It wasn’t until my third trip into Haiti that I figured out why the 2 hour, 20 mile trip from Port Au Prince to Bercy is so enjoyable, why I feel stronger and more sure of myself the further we go. Route 1 National, is crowded. I ride in a tap tap, a pickup truck with benches lengthways along the bed of the truck, topped by a high arch made of steel and metal sheeting. The tap taps are very noisy, everything rattles as you drive. You spend your ride holding on, trying not to hit your head on the ceiling or land in your neighbor’s lap! There are large school buses with names of schools from Maine to Florida running the roads at a break neck pace. A majority of the vehicles in Haiti run on diesel fuel. The exhaust at times takes over the air, mixing with a choking dust. There it is, the key to my joy and strength, the smell of diesel exhaust. Lingering in that smell, (surrounded by treeless mountains, livestock eating along the roads, and the brown faces of strangers), are memories of my childhood. Memories centered around my Dad’s dump trucks and heavy equipment. My Dad who wouldn’t dream of coming to Haiti, comes with me every trip. My skills to figure out how to make something from nothing, or see another way things can be done, come from him, his ability to listen, ask questions, and to think through things before moving on what he has heard, his perseverance in doing what needs to be done and working at it until the job is done. Here on Route 1 National he comes to me through a smell, a smell that merges my two worlds together.

I can hear you asking me “why Haiti?” It started with a trip to visit friends, and led to helping people through ‘a hand up not a hand out.’ I help people start micro businesses, businesses that allow a family to become self-sufficient. Think of the saying “give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish he’ll eat for a life time”. I am giving families the chance to support themselves, send their children to school, and afford medical care. I also try to give them hope, through their own hard work. I return to Haiti January 12 for my 7th trip, returning February 5th.

Tap taps loaded with goods and people

 

Jazmen

46 DAYS AND COUNTING, HAITI HERE I COME

I want these 46 days to fly by, on the other hand there is much still do do. I am jealous that Esaie and Reme are returning 12 days before me.

Big news, this trip my 5 yr old Charlie will be joining me. For 25 days Thomas, Haiti will have to deal with double trouble. 25 days, I am so excited to be staying for that long.

Since there are 4 of us going we have the ability to take 8 suitcases for free, please see my post regarding GIVING COMFORT, for a list of items we would like to take with us.

I can’t wait to see my friends!

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February Trip

My next trip to Haiti is planned for the first week of February. The business being set up this trip is a sewing business. I will be taking in a sewing machine or two along with supplies to get the business going. Mary Clare is very excited to get started! (See below for a list a donations needed). Mary Clare needs to be set up with solar electricity, money donations are needed to accomplish this.
I am also hoping to take supplies to Club Ti Moun (the children’s club).

Sewing business supplies needed:

fabric

patterns

needles

thread

pins

elastic

scissors

buttons

zippers

ribbon

money for: solar panel, battery, and inverter

Club Ti Moun donations needed:

crayons

pencils

paper

recorders (the instrument)

Key board (the instument) 

Misc donations needed:

rice

beef jerky

power aide powder

granola bars

nutilla

chicken bouillon

ketchup (small Packages)

mayo (small packages)

advil

bandages

anti bac cream

 Donation can be dropped of at:

Cheap Kids in Orford, NH

Miller Chevrolet Cadillac in Lebanon, NH

Arrangements can be made for picking up in other locations.

As always money for the flight and baggage is needed!

You can contact me via

email rebeccaladd@hughes.net

cell phone 603-728-8949 (texting or regular calls)

Work phone 603-448-3770 ext 1209 (ask for Rebecca Bailey, I go by my maiden name there)

snail mail 38 Knapp Rd, Piermont, NH 03779

I am Thankful for My Haitian Friends

Just now as I was preparing sweat potato pie for the oven I began to think about what I am thankful for.

I am so thankful for having met my Haitian friends three years ago. Meeting them has changed my life in so many ways. I now see the value of a dollar in a new way, understand how blessed I am to live in the United States, how to love with out boundaries. I am thankful that I have a wonderful Haitian family that accepts me as I am and loves to laugh and joke and cry with me. I am blessed and thankful to be learning from them the values that they hold and the skills that they have. I am ever so thankful to have heard Samuel say “my house is broken, but I have life” several days after the earth quake in January. I am thankful that none of my friends died in the earth quake and continue to be thankful that they haven’t been affected by the cholera.

I am thankful that Haitians in general are very resilient people who will over come all that is thrown at them; natural and man-made.

On this American Thanks Giving Day, my thoughts are on Haiti and how I would love to hug my friends and tell them how thankful I am for them!

Jazmean

 

Esaie on the bike of the Moto Herode is driving

 

Three Tent Woman of Bercy

When I was in Bercy spring of 2010, I was shocked to see the tent village that had popped up next to the soccer field.
These people had lost their homes in the earthquake and this was all they could do to have shelter. They are the reason I return to Haiti in May with 99 tarps.
During my trip in September, I was please to see only three tent homes remain by the soccer field. These tents are occupied by three women: Casadre Similien, Masulia Joseph, and Losume Louis. They have been unable to move out of these horrid tents.
 
CLICK ON NEEDS TO READ THE WHOLE STORY AND SEE PICTURES

Haiti Cholera My Thoughts

Market along the road side

I have been refraining from writing about my opinion on the cholera in Haiti, partly because I have been worried that I might be off on my conclusions. The other reason for not wanting to write my concerns is because they make them all that more real to me. Well, I am going to step outside my comfort zone and am going to dive into it anyways, take from it what you will.

I believe that getting cholera under control in Haiti is going to be next to impossible. I have walked the rural market place, I have ridden through the rural towns, and I have lived with the rural families. In short I have experienced how the rural and not so rural Haitians live. Because of this experience I am highly concerned about the cholera lasting for years in Haiti and the death toll being extremely high. I fear everyday that a phone call will come that tells me one of my friends in Haiti has died.

My market experience has been in the market in Cabaret, though I am told it is a very typical market. The market place is filthy; you’re walking on all matter of filth: plastic products, feces, and old rotted food. The food items for sale are uncovered, un-refrigerated and laden with flies; meat, grains, and produce are all affected. All these items sitting out in 95 degree heat. This practice has been in place for hundreds of years. A person, my self included, purchases meat that is covered with flies, the seller handles the meat with bare hands and places it in a bag, you’re then handed the bag, you hand the seller the payment and wait for your change, which is handed to you with the same hands that handled the fly covered un-refrigerated meat. Hands are not washed, not even wiped off in this process. Another person will approach you in the market, they are selling books. These books have been handled hundreds of times a day. Who has touched these books? Were their hands clean? Did you wash your hands after handling those books? Chances are you didn’t. Your thirsty, you have been walking through the market place in 95 degree heat. So you buy some water to drink. More likely then not this water is in a sealed plastic bag, it may even say “bon dlo” (good water). You will put a corner of this bag in your mouth and bit of a piece, this piece of plastic you will spit on the ground. You then put about ½ inch of the bag in your mouth and suck and squeeze the water into your mouth. Who has handled that plastic bag that you just placed in your mouth. For sure their hands were not washed and that bag was certainly not wash before it went into your mouth. Keep in mind that during this water transaction, more filthy money is handed back and forth.

Running along a large amount of roads in Haiti are water channels. Either side of the channel are concrete of rock barriers. During the dry season you can see all the trash that has been washed into and thrown into them. This source of water is used for multiple uses right on the spot: laundry washing, body washing, and the washing of trucks and motorcycles just to name a few. This water is also used for freezing into blocks, which people then buy to put in coolers as refrigeration. Water is drawn from these channels and carried to homes to wash dishes with, cooking and yes, for drinking. The water in these channels comes from all over the place. Down the mountain sides, washed in from the road and from rain. This water is far from clean in appearance and who knows what germs it carries.

The typical Haitian family has done the same things for hundreds of years. Washing dishes with channel water and sand, buying the raw non-refrigerated meat and showering in the water. Those who can afford to purchase water for cooking, bathing, and drinking. In the village of Bercy, with the exception of the Habitat for Humanity Village and a few other families, water is a huge problem. When you can barely afford to feed your family the expense of water puts you over the edge. When you don’t even have a roof over your head due to the earth quake, the expense of water is to much, when you can’t afford to dress you child, much less wash the clothes, you can’t afford to by good drinking water. These people can’t even afford to buy bleach to add to the water that they do have, that is if you could get them to understand and change their habits so that they are using the bleach.

Haitians move around a lot. I don’t mean that they move from house to house, but that they go and visit. I know several families in Bercy that travel 2 hours on Sundays to attend church in the village they grew up in. People have to travel in to larger villages for supplies that can’t get at home. People converge on Cabaret on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with their goods to sell and to purchase, only to converge on Archiea on Wednesday and Friday for the same reasons. These two large “cities” are both along Route 1 National and are about ½ an hour apart via car. People travel by foot, horse or donkey, motorcycle and tap tap to get their goods to market. The motorcycle could transfer some germs, but the tap tap is a germ swapping machine. Tap taps are a pickup truck with a curved metal rook over the back, with wooden benches running down both sides of the bed of the truck. People are practically on each others laps, peoples purchases in bags and the bags are covered with God only knows what. People swap germs in person to person contact, the germs are left on the wooden seats and metal sides only to be picked up by the next person. Through these tap taps germs are spread all over the country.

So how do you change all of these habits? How do you teach people, people who might be illiterate. The Haitian Health Ministry had started putting up flyers and banners when I was there the beginning on November. But, what good will these do if people do not have a choice in what there are doing in order to survive? Who is capable of cleaning up the market place? Who is going to provide the refrigeration, the rubber gloves, and the hand sanitizer? I think they would have police the market. If the vendors had to make these changes, they would have to charge the customers more, customers who can barely afford to buy now. Who is going to bleach the produce, plastic bag of water and the tap taps. Who is going to provide clean water to everyone so that people do not need to drink channel water? I can tell you who wont be doing it; the Haitian government and the poor citizens of Haiti. I also don’t see other countries doing it, first of all I am not sure it is their place to do so, but they have also not come through with the money they promised after the earth quake I wouldn’t depend on them for this.

I feel like I haven’t given more than the tip of the iceburg here, and that to me is scary! What to me is scarier is that I think that this dreadful killer will have to run its coarse.

In the 1770’s a small pox eradicates at least 30 percent of the native population on the Northwest coast of North America including numerous members of Puget Sound tribes. This apparent first smallpox epidemic on the northwest coast coincides with the first direct European contact, and is the most virulent of the deadly European diseases that swept over the region during the next 80 to 100 years. In his seminal work, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence, historian Robert Boyd estimates that the 1770s smallpox epidemic killed more than 11,000 Western Washington Indians, reducing the population from about 37,000 to 26,000. – http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5100

European diseases spread plague after deadly plague across the land. In a period of 130 years, something like 95 percent of all Native Americans died of disease. That number is far greater than experts (until recently) had ever suspected. – http://www.youmeworks.com/why_native_americans.html

Market trash

 

Trash at the market

 

Market along the road side

 

Food in market

 

more food

 

Market

 

Tap taps loaded with goods and people

 

Home kitchen

 

home kitchen

 

Gathering with friends

Home Away from Home

 

I am staying for the first time on my land. It is very different that my pervious trips. I am further away from things in general, on the opposite side of Bercy than before and things are so very quite. People are not around in the same way as the other locations, being out where I am the visitors are fewer and there are not children hanging all over me all the time. It was strange going to Haiti and not seeing Jazmean or her older sister at all. In some ways it is like starting over again, the people on the other side of Bercy had grown accustomed to me. I could walk anywhere and have people call my name and try and talk with me. People were not surprised to see the white woman walking around or driving by on the moto. On this side of Bercy I am being starred at, surprised looks on peoples faces when they see me walking by or riding on the moto. People stop or walk really slowly on the road outside of the property and watch me from a distance. People do not walk through my property to get to other places like they did at Herodes house, so when someone is on the property it is for a reason.