Sunday, August 17, 2008

haiti update - august 16, 2008

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

Hi! This week was spent doing some traveling. We drove out to Tomazeau to pick up Guerdline (“Gerdie”) who was spending some time visiting her mother and sister. Gerdie is now 4 years old and ready to start her schooling. She needed to be back for pre-school testing this week. Dorothy has been looking after her for the last couple of years and she has thrived in her care. Gerdie was also the first and so far only baby born here at Coram Deo. Her mother Janine was staying here because she has a child with hydrocephalus. She went into labor and nobody told me until it was too late and then I ran and got Carole to come and deliver the baby. Now Gerdie is ready for her school age years! Janine’s other daughter, Ersila was one of the first children operated on for hydrocephalus by the Miami Neurosurgery Team in 2003. It is good to see how after surgery these children can thrive over the years. Ersila has some brain damage because of the hydrocephalus but her mother looks after her the best she can. When I saw her at her mothers’ house in Tomazeau she looked good and was trying to interact with Gerdie. She was sitting in a chair. Pray for Janine and her family and also for Dorothy’s efforts in looking after Gerdie and the other children in her care.
Driving back to Port-au-Prince with Gerdie and her mother we passed the village of Tou Kayman. In English this is translated as “Crocodile Hole” The village has a large “sous” (spring) where people go to wash their clothes and also to swim. It’s a nice area. We also passed a large lake area and stopped. There were several flamingos standing in the lake. This gave me an idea of a place where I could take the children to visit. It was also not too far from Port-au-Prince. I had promised the children at the beginning of summer break that before the school year started we would go to the beach. Private beaches in Haiti are expensive and you have to pay for each person who goes to the beach. Fuel prices are also high right now. This would be an economical place to visit because it was free! When I got back I explained to everyone what I had seen on the way from Tomazeau and of a swimming place in Tou Kayman. Jacob is the most cautious of all the children and his first question was why would someone name a place “Tou Kayman”? I told him that the village got this name because this is an area where the crocodiles live and that we would be swimming in their watering hole. I told him not to worry because the villagers took care of any crocodiles a long time ago and also built a wall around the spring. He told me to bring along the machete just in case. On Friday we took a Haitian holiday to the countryside with the children and other people of Coram Deo. 16 people piled onto the pickup truck. Everybody was eager to go except for Jacob because I didn’t bring along the machete. When we arrived at the spring everyone went with the water toys and jumped in. I reminded them not to splash the wash ladies. I told Jacob not to worry because any lurking crocodiles would be hiding in the tall grass of the creek that was behind the wall. He played in the water too until he got to the back of the spring and noticed an opening in the wall. This opening was there for the excess water of the spring to drain out into the creek. He climbed out and spent the rest of the time on the back wall. I think he was keeping an eye out for crocodiles in the tall grass. After a while the children and older guys started to explore the creek and noticed that there were a lot of fish swimming in the creek. Manu managed to catch a fish with his hands. Some of the guys and children decided they wanted to go fishing and searched the area for something that they could use for a net. They found an old discarded sheet and made a net out of it. Soon they were capturing fish in their homemade net. They weren’t very big fish but they put them all into a bucket. Only the smallest fish were let go. Jacob didn’t dare to put his feet into the creek. The older guys held the net and the children would herd the fish in the direction of the net. It was fun to watch them.
There was a group of Christian people walking down the road who were singing Christian songs and they stopped at the spring. They were good singers and sang for a while. They then prayed. One of the women had a walking stick and she went down to the large tree at the water’s edge. She reached out with her stick and tapped the tree with the stick and then her whole body started to tremble. Another man came and hugged the tree. Another man came and lifted his arms in the air and started speaking in a loud voice. I didn’t understand why they did this. I know that in the voodoo religion spirits come down from the trees. I don’t know if these people were thinking that this was how to communicate with the Holy Spirit but we left and didn’t stick around to see what happened next.
We started heading back and stopped at the lake to look at the flamingos. Paula told me it was not a lake but just “dlo gayay” (scattered water). It is very shallow but there is a lot of fish in it. The fishermen pole their fishing boats to move them forward. We went to where the flamingos were and they were standing at a distance in the water. I wanted to get a close-up picture of the flamingos and asked if anyone wanted to join me in walking into the lake. I ended up going into the water by myself because everyone refused to go. They said that they didn’t want to get stuck in the mud and that the flamingos would just move away once we got too close. While walking I noticed that every now and then the flamingos would move a little further and I could never get close to them. I ended up taking a close-up picture of everyone standing on the shore waiting for me to get stuck in the mud. It is a funny photo. They don’t look very enthused and are sitting with their water rings on the shore. I posted this and other photos from our vacation day on the blogsite. I headed back to shore and they told me that they never want to come back to “dlo gayay” to go swimming. They were eager to return another day to “Tou Kayman”. We then headed for home and there was only one time when everybody pounded on the back of the pickup truck to stop. The Tomazeau road is a bumpy road that you can’t drive fast on and I was worried that maybe somebody had bounced out but it was just the yellow ducky water ring that flew out the back. One of the older guys jumped out and chased it down. We arrived home and the children cleaned the fish and we had a fish fry! The fish tasted good. Everyone is looking forward to going for our next visit to Tou Kayman to get more fish and to swim.
That’s all the news for today. Have a good weekend!

Karen Bultje, Coram Deo

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