Wow, water truck day #1 was crazy! We woke up in the morning, and some of the team helped the ladies cook our breakfast. We had pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit from the Healing Haiti farm. We all wore our water shoes and green shirts as we prepared to be very wet. We prayed for safe travels and for God to bless the Haitians as we set off for the day.
After a harrowing ride on the Tap-Tap, we made it to our first water stop in Cité Soleil (sit-ee so-lay). It is considered by many to be the worst and poorest community in the western hemisphere, if not the world. As we got off the Tap-Tap, there were children waiting to meet us on the steps. They were saying “po tem, po tem” which means “pick me,” or “pick me up.” Most of them only had a shirt on, or just shorts. Many were naked, but you picked them up anyway. That’s what we’re here for. Kids even nine to ten years old were asking to be held. They would grasp your hair and jump on you, but mostly they just wanted love and attention. They would hug you and look into your eyes, searching for some care. Kids and adults alike were lined up in the middle of the street with anything from a little pitcher to a huge tub. 5-gallon pails were the most common. We worked the big hose from the truck, helped keep the water containers in line and moving fast, helped carry them home or just lifted them onto heads. All the while the kids were jumping and laughing. Some of the older boys and girls (read: teenagers) asked us to help them practice their English! Forty to forty-five way too short minutes later, the truck would be empty and we would have to leave quickly, as the water is our protection from the horrors of the city. As the Tap-Tap pulled away, the kids would run after the truck, with smiles on their faces.
While waiting for the truck to fill up again, we visited Hope Church and School. Because it was summer there were fewer kids, and they weren’t in uniform. The kids are from Cité Soleil, and they were sponsored by someone in the US. We helped pass out lunch and took a tour of the facility. They are currently even building a medical clinic. We said our goodbyes and we loaded up for stop #2.
As before, the truck sounded the horn and we all scrambled out of the truck, making our way through the mass of children and picking a few up on the way. I played hand games with a few of the kids and even formed a dancing circles. There were a few less people at this stop so everyone who came got water. Because we had extra, people got to come through again and the kids were splashing each other and us! Later, following a weird mix of water fun and exhausting work, we piled back in the truck to head to our next waiting spot.
After loading up on Propel and snacks, we headed out to the Fleri Farm, owned by Healing Haiti. Here they employ Haitians to grow coconuts, bananas, mangos, avocados, limes, and much more. They supply the guest house, and Grace and Hope churches. Nothing is wasted. As we were walking our guide cut us some fresh sugar cane for us to enjoy. We took lots of pictures and hung out with the dogs before heading out to the last stop of the day.
We started stop #3 already exhausted, but that quickly gave way to frantic energy once again. Because of the riots, the water truck hadn’t run for two weeks. It went again last week, but there was still desperation in the people. The Haitians had been pushy before, but now they were almost violent. More than a few times we, and especially the truck drivers had to shove people and buckets out of the way when they were cutting in line. A few people almost came to blows when fights over buckets and line places broke out. The kids in their tattered shirts were positively hungry for any scrap of water or attention they could get. Laura, one of our leaders said that that was one of the worst stops she had been to, as far as how poor the people were. We didn’t get to fill all of the buckets that were in line, but those that got water were so grateful. One seven-ish year old girl even looked at me and said, in English, “Thank you Jesus.”
There were so many stories from the day I couldn’t hope to record them all. We were so tired after we got back. We ate a supper of “ramen chicken surprise,” went to the pool for a little bit and headed for bed after meeting with the group. Everyone was thankful that we could help these people, and share Jesus with them. “Jezi remen ou- Jesus loves you!”