After nearly five weeks in the U.S., I am back in Haiti for another three months. It almost feels like I never left which is both comforting and also a testament to the unshakable community that makes up St. Vincent’s. After all of the initial screaming and hugging, I settled back into life here as if my absence was merely a weekend trip.
I cannot tell you how many people asked what I brought back for them. I had anticipated this and when my mom and I brainstormed what I could bring back for all thirty-plus residents of all ages, we settled on Christmas Crackers – small, unisex gifts that would be a fun display of one of our Christmas traditions. Children and adults alike were bewildered and frankly somewhat underwhelmed by the little games and paper crowns. They were not into the force it takes to pop them and instead unwrapped them carefully. Their slight disappoint was evident, but if there are two things that I know are universally loved, they are chocolate and Shakira, so I put on Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) and started handing out the millions of Hershey’s miniatures that I brought. This cheered everyone up and most of them even put on their crowns.
The chocolate sparked a long discussion about food because they all wanted to know what the crunch in the red wrappers was. I explained that it was dried rice and they all thought I was being ridiculous. They all wanted to try the rice chocolate and asked if we also put corn in our chocolate. I said no, but we do put hot peppers in it sometimes and I think they still don’t believe me.
Because of the heavy rains that are highly unusual for January, there has been flooding across the country that make roads impassable. School attendance has steadily increased through the week but it is still sparse. Despite many missing students and teachers, everyone is happy to be back at school with friends and looking forward to the upcoming semester.
Today is the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Many of my conversations yesterday were about the residents’ and teachers’ experiences during the earthquake. Nearly everyone has a story to tell, can show you their scars, or knew someone who was seriously injured or even killed. Despite losing their houses and most of their belongings, people are still hopeful for the future and proud of their country’s, and their own, resilience.
I can’t promise that this will be a weekly publication again as you have heard pretty much all of the day-to-day happenings, but I will write semi-regularly to keep you up to date on the big news. If biweekly isn’t enough for you, check out the Facebook page (facebook.com/centresaintvincent), Instagram (stvincentshaiti), and Twitter (@stvincentshaiti) where I will be posting updates and pictures of the happenings and people of St. Vincent’s. I am thrilled to be back for the next 90 days at St. Vincent’s.