Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Day of The Thing

Updates on life in haiti since the quake: We are still sleeping outside in a tent. It's nice and cozy (a little too cozy for great sleep, but at least it's dry and mosquito free). There are a group of engineers here doing assessments on the buildings, and they will suggest to us what we need to do to make our house safe to sleep in again. We spend time in our home in the evenings and even get to watch some tv, so that helps us feel more normal. And we are thankful that we do have a home to retreat to, as many missionaries here have lost their homes, along with many haitians in our area. I've been performing a very unofficial census among my patients, asking them if they've lost their homes and lost loved ones, and it seems that about 80 percent of them have lost their homes, and almost 90 percent have lost at least one loved one. My patients don't often refer to it as "January 12th" or as "the day of the earthquake"... most of the time they say "The day of the thing". I don't know if that's because they don't understand what happened that day, or because not naming it makes it less scary.
We are very thankful to Community Christian Church for the shipment of non-perishables and tents and tarps that they sent our way. We are still looking for more tents and tarps to distribute, although right now shipping things here has become very tricky. Once we figure out a good way to get goods in again, we'll let everyone know how to help. When the first shipment of tents and tarps came in, we went to some of our employees' yards and erected some tents. It was fun, and also very encouraging to see that many of them had already made some temporary shelter of some kind. Many were just out of sheets and sticks, but others had scavanged through the debris and built little shacks out of wooden doors and frames and tin. There are many tent cities going up all over this area, and many families are building what are referred to in haiti as "kay pay"... houses built out of sticks, fronds, corn husks, or sugar cane bundles. In seguin a lot of people live in kay pay made out of corn husks. Here in leogane, there isn't much corn but there is an abundance of sugar cane, so the kay pays are going up with sugar cane walls. A haitian friend who grew up in this area and is back for a visit told us that 30 years ago, most of the people out here lived in sugar cane kay pays. So I guess life is reverting back to the way it was a long time ago. I'm sure it's hard for these families, who have worked so hard to build nice cement houses, to go back to living in stick shacks. They don't seem to be too discouraged, though.
In general, the spirit of the haitian people around us is hopeful. They believe they'll rebuild their homes, somehow. Many are finding work by clearing roads of debris or tearing down buildings. The market places are still bustling with local produce. Our employees still give big smiles of greeting when they pass us by. The church pews are full every sunday and the congregation sings just as loud, if not louder, than they did before the "day of the thing".


AmyU said...

The last time my family visited Christianville was 8 years ago. Please know we have been praying for Christianville and all of the ministries. Thank you so much for writing your blog. I do check it every few days and appreciate that you have kept us updated on what has been happening.

Tracy said...

Check your blog daily hoping for an update, thank you! So glad Sara was able to be there with you for awhile. Billy said the other day, "I want to go to Haiti." I said, "Me, too." Michaela - no, the earthquake scared her. Although she talked enough about you at preschool that you made it into her teacher's monthly letter. Smile. Give Nora a cuddle & kiss from us. Love you much, always praying.

Jessicox said...

i just want to be there with you.....sigh

Keith Waggoner said...


Christianville has changed its mission from education and evangelism to medical care. But the foundation has not told this to the supporters.

What's worse Americans at Christianville are threatening local Haitian educators, including the President of Christianville College, with jail. Read email below. The college students have paid for room and board until the end of the semester. These kids have a right to finish the semester. The seniors have a right to graduate.

Can anyone do anything about the mess at Christianville?

See below. Thanks, Keith Waggoner

De: Ed Gilsbach
Objet: university
Date: Jeudi 18 mars 2010, 17h28

Dr. Bazin,

After the last email I wrote you, I delivered a signed copy of the Board of Directors' letter, as I said I would. Mr. Deleon signed a copy indicating he had received the letter and then informed me that "his attorney had instructed him not ot discuss the university situation with me". I later telephoned Mr. Deleon, on 11 March, requesting that he provide me with a way to contact his attorney or that his attorney contact me. He said he would do this but has not. Since our last conversation on 11 March 2010, Mr. Deleon has not answered numerous calls from me, nor has he returned calls when I leave a message. I have asked both Daniel and Jonathas to ask Mr. Deleon to contact me, to no avail.

As stated in the letter, the Christianville Board of Directors would like access to the men's dorm immediately. Since the college is now closed there should not be students on campus or in the dorms. Our attorney has instructed me to call the Justice of the Peace and ask that warrants be issued in both your name and Mr. Deleon's. I am reluctant to do this in the hopes that this can be settled amicably. If however, I do not receive the keys for the men's dorm by tomorrow, 19 March 2010, I will be forced to get the courts involved.

The closing of the university was a very difficult decision for the Board of Directors. I'm sure it is difficult for the students, teachers and administrators of the university to accept this decision. It is still my hope that this can be completed without unnecessary hardship. Your cooperation will be appreciated.

Ed Gilsbach