March 14, 2011

Haiti 2011 Part 2

85 Robin with Ashlet and Junette copy84 Elidana, not an orphan, but she's always at the orpha (1)

Last fall, a water filtration system was installed at Terre Noire by a Cornwall mission team. The orphanage and school there now have a water tower, clean drinking water, hand washing stations, and even a kitchen sink!

Here’s what the water tower looks like. If you look closely, you’ll see a curtain on the 2nd level, in what was supposed to be a storage room. It turns out that the night watchman has made this into his home.

11 our new water tower with storage beneath copy

Anyway, we were so thankful for this new water system, as it was completed at the time of the cholera outbreak that originated in that valley. Although almost every school child in the outer villages can name family members who got sick with cholera or who had been sick him or herself, none of the orphans contracted it. We thought it was because Esther, the director, had been so adamant that the kids drink only filtered water. Instead, it might have been because the water system is now closed and the kids and staff are no longer able to introduce contaminants by dipping dirty buckets into the cistern. The filtered water is fed into this tank inside a storage room off the new kitchen:

12 there's a tank for filtered water in side the storage (1)

Culligan jugs are filled from a spigot outside:

10 filling the water jugs copy

Then drinking water for the orphans and school kids is pumped from the jugs:

9 dispensing filtered water for the school kids copy

While we’d love to spend our time playing with the kids (They are SO cute!), the main focus of these board trips is on interacting with the staff. Meetings, meetings, and more meetings! And with all the language and cultural barriers, our discussions can get very challenging. It takes the whole group of us, listening, watching, and asking the same question multiple ways to gain an understanding of the answer, even with an interpreter. One member hears the words. Another sees the facial expressions. Still another watches the body language. In the end, we’re often more confused than when we started. And the process can be exhausting! In fact, our Haitian director’s favorite English phrase is “Conversation finished!” So, this time we intentionally tried to focus more of our attention on encouraging the leaders. We spent time praying for the staff and their concerns, both for their ministries and for their personal needs.

We had an opportunity one day to share some old photos of Maranatha with Pastor Roger and Esther. That lightened the mood considerably. It was fun to see them reminiscing. And hilarious to see Esther’s reaction when she saw Pastor Roger in checkered pants and a striped shirt!

75 Esther thought Pastor Roger's old clothes were hilarious

Pastor Roger and Esther currently state 3 things as number one in priority on their wish list for Maranatha. How they can all be number one is a mystery to me, but they all seem to be. The first is getting the orphanage completed so the kids can move into the building. The second is obtaining a vehicle that can be used to transport sick kids to the doctor and food to the schools. We’ve been dragging our feet on that one because maintaining things has so far not been their strength. But, recently, Esther’s cousin loaned her a truck. It needs some work. (Plus insurance and a license.) But, it just might work out for them. This is it:

76 truck loaned to the orphanage copy

The other top priority item is building a wall around the property. Pastor Roger and Esther have been asking for this for a long time, but again, we’ve dragged out feet. Besides being really expensive to do, it’s always seemed contrary to our goal of equipping Maranatha to reach out to the neighbors with the gospel. But we may finally be caving on this one. In the Haitian culture, the wall goes up even before the house. And often, if they can afford it, there’s an armed guard at the gate. Whoever built the orphanage in the first place (It wasn’t Cornwall) ignored this custom. 

A new discovery for us on this visit is that the neighboring schools are jealous of Maranatha. Our tuition is lower, and on top of that, our kids, unlike others, get lunches every school day. And because of that, Pastor Roger and Esther believe there are those who would try to harm our kids. Here’s a picture of one of the classes at the primary school at Terre Noire eating their meal of rice and beans:

7 eating lunch at the school at Terre Noire copy

Some things have happened in the last couple of years that confirm this in their minds, spiritual warfare stuff that sounds pretty weird to most of us Americans: things related to voodoo and demon possession and the like. But voodoo is alive and well in Haiti, and various members from Cornwall have actually witnessed episodes of demon possession on separate occasions. Faithful prayer is the thing that will protect the children from their spiritual enemies. But a wall around the property might help give Esther some piece of mind if it discourages physical intruders. 

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