Friday, July 20, 2012

Haiti Day 5 afternoon (July 6)

For our last afternoon in Haiti, we participated in the grocery ministry.  We pooled together some money to buy groceries.  Our intern and translators took us to the market, where we (okay, really it was just our translator Lunes who did everything!) purchased four bags packed full of groceries...rice, beans, flour, sugar, fruit, seasonings, even charcoal for the cooking fire.

The market was so interesting, and I really wanted to take more pictures but I was just too uncomfortable.  Some of our team members with smaller, less conspicuous cameras were able to take some pictures though.  It is just such a different way of life.  There were so many "vendors" set up in little shacks, back to back to back.  I can't even estimate how many were there, and they were so crowded together there was barely room to walk through the maze of them all.  The interesting part was that everyone was selling the exact same thing.  I don't know how they all make it, because there was nothing unique...each place had the same items as the place before it and the place before that and so on.

 This was one of many charcoal stands. They were all set up next to each other, and we (meaning Lunes) got into a heated bartering session deciding which vendor to buy from.  I couldn't understand the language, but it seemed like each vendor had a reason why we their charcoal was better than the others.  It was just so funny to me, because it was there really a difference between any of it?  Finally, Lunes decided that he would purchase from whoever could get him a sack to put it in.

Lunes grew up in St. Louis de Nord, so he knows the people and he knows the market.  He knew exactly what we should be paying for the food, and he drove a hard bargain to make sure we were never overcharged.  Our intern said she had never seen anyone get so much food for their money at the market.

After leaving the market, we headed out in the streets to deliver the groceries.  The normal procedure for this is to just walk up to random houses to talk and pray with the people and decide if they would be in need of groceries.  According to our intern, we did not have to give groceries to everyone.  Sometimes groups would just stop and pray with people.  I felt a little bad about stopping to talk and pray with people with bags of groceries in our hand and not giving the food to them though, and we ended up giving groceries to every house.

Since Lunes knew the people and the streets, we had him lead us to some homes.  At each home, Jody would ask Lunes, "Do they need these groceries?"  And Lunes would laugh and say, "yes."  After doing this a few times, Jody asked Lunes why he kept laughing, and he said, "I'm laughing because everyone here needs groceries."

After delivering our four bags of groceries to various homes in the neighborhood, Lunes offered to take us to his home and meet his daughter.  Lunes had been working with us all week, and he had told us about his almost five year old daughter.  Her birthday was in five days, and we brought her some candy and trinkets we had leftover from VBS.
 It was so cool to get this peek into a real home and family in Haiti.  So far, we had viewed everything from the outside.  But Lunes invited us in and showed us around his small two room home. I really was honored that he invited us inside.  He seemed both humble and proud of his place.  This is the "street" where he lives, made up of cement block homes.
I don't know a lot about social classes in Haiti, but from what we viewed this week, it seemed like this would be considered typical middle class living: a cement two room home with an outhouse for a bathroom and a fire and pot in the yard for a kitchen.  Lunes had battery powered "electricity" in his home so he could charge his cell phone (very important!!) and have a few lights inside.  His home (like him) was very clean and well put together.  By Haitian standards, it was a pretty nice place.  A place like that in America however would be considered extreme poverty.

Being in his home made the people of Haiti so much more real to me.  Up until this point, we had been working with kids a lot and driving by a lot of people on the streets.  It all seemed so surreal.  It was just hard to imagine that all those people we saw on the streets were real people with real lives.  I don't mean for that to sound callous or insensitive, but seeing that kind of was just so hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

Then we went to Lunes' house.  Entering another person's home is such a personal thing, and just seeing how he lives his daily life was helpful to me.  While we only visited Lunes' home, I felt like I could suddenly see into homes all across Haiti.  That sounds really dramatic and I don't know if I am explaining myself very well, but honestly, this was an eye-opening experience for me.  It helped to personalize the entire trip and every person that we had encountered throughout the week.  Real people with real homes and real lives and real needs and real emotions.  This was not a planned part of our week, but it was one of my favorite parts of our trip.  


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