And the 'Real' Work Begins...
(This post was written on Friday...in the midst of post-meal stomach issues, we missed posting it. Thank you for staying tuned!)
The day has come; today we actually rolled up our sleeves and made ourselves useful. First order of business was to sort the 30-odd bags of donations we brought with us to be divided by the site staff among the different sub-sites. A pile for school supplies, books, shoes, toys, dental hygiene, medical, feminine hygiene, sports gear and clothing…we figure the hundreds of toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes we brought will negate the bags and bags of candy…right?
Then we were off on a very bumpy ride to the school in Carrefour Sanon. We passed the time by learning some Creole from our tri-lingual driver, Joel, and in turn trying to introduce him to the concept of maple syrup, which is difficult when you don’t know the French word for sap – although Joanne’s attempt with “tree blood” was pretty good. He seemed to enjoy the maple candy we gave him.
At the school, the children sang us songs of greeting, so we reciprocated with our best rendition of O Canada, in French. Serena braved some prepared statements in Creole to the classes (thanks again to Joel). We then helped to serve their daily meal as part of their school feeding program. We were struck by the discipline and manners of each of the children….although recess still sounds like recess.
Over lunch, Fr Duncan shared two more ways that Haiti is just like Cape Breton. The road we drove in on? Just like River Dennis Rd. The origins of Haitian Creole? Very comparable to the retention of the Gallic language in Cape Breton.
Then we were off to the sub-sites, ‘cruising la terre’ (and in the case of Zach and Kristine, fending off fervent marriage offers,) painting (and in the case of Heather, being around an awful lot of kerosene fumes, and becoming quite merry) and making blocks (in other words -- holding up the locals, who are much more efficient at making blocks than we are).
We made quite a few young friends today. We were impressed to note at the schools that more than 50% of the students self-identified as Chalice sponsored – likewise, we were saddened to meet families for whom not all the children had the means to attend school. Unsurprisingly, Kristine’s Polaroid camera is a huge hit, and the kids can keep their memories of our visit.
We go to bed today feeling humbled by the resourcefulness and skill of our new friends, and grateful for the sense of community we felt we were invited to join today. Tomorrow, more ‘cruising’ and painting, and new friends surely await us.