Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haiti Day Four

Flexibility. It is an essential quality in a third world country. As they say, ‘Man plans, God laughs.” Our scheduled trip to the Sisters today did not materialize. Madame Dio needed Joe, our driver, to take her to run several errands this morning, so that needs to take precedence over our outing. It is disappointing not to be going, and yet it gives us an unplanned opportunity to spend more time with the kids at the House. We are filling ‘la piscine’ – the swimming pool which we brought with us from the States. The kids have started to gather around to watch in anticipation. Of course, water pressure is almost non-existent here so the filling is taking quite awhile. We’re going on 2 ½ hours already and we only have about six inches in it. Of course, it might fill faster if Paul and Carol weren’t spending so much time squirting everything that moves.

Lunch is over and the children have gathered on the porch, right in front of the steps to watch and be the first in the pool. The girls go first. When Madame Dio tells them they may get ready, there is jumping and cheering and running to their rooms to get bathing suits on. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a group of girls this giddy. They cannot contain their excitement. Luckily we brought water wings with us and some of the smaller children are unable to stand on their own and even though the pool only contains about 2 feet of water, it would be easy to experience an accidental drowning. Three of our team are in the pool with the girls – all 13 of them. You can imagine that it is quite crowded, but the kids seem oblivious to the crunched conditions. They splash and put their heads under water and hold their breath. For some it is their first time in a swimming pool. What a treat! The boys follow the girls and the experience is the same.

Another activity of the afternoon is the taking of Biographies. We have only sketchy details on many of the children. Some do not know their birth date or how old they are. One boy could not remember the name of his brother. We have virtually no information on the staff at this point. We talked with all the women on staff, gathering details about city of origin, birth family, and current family. The staff hold positions such as head housekeeper, house mother to either the boys or the girls, kitchen manager, head cook, head laundress etc. What is so striking about these women is that they love their jobs. Truly. They are thrilled to work here and they are thrilled to live with and serve these children. It is heartwarming to see people embrace jobs that so many people in more wealthy countries would look down their nose at or simply refuse to do. When we expressed regret today to Nitha that just after she’d finished mopping the floors, we dumped kids in the swimming pool (I don’t think I need to explain the result!) rather than getting angry at us or the kids for tracking mud and dirt on her newly washed floors, she said that it was nothing. And she meant it. The staff here do not see any part of their job as being beneath them. The most menial, the most dirty parts of their job are tackled with graciousness and evey with apparent. As I see their attitude toward their work, I reflect on my own whining and moaning about certain elements of my job. I don’t like doing this, or that part of my job is annoying, or this part of my job is a waste of my time or talent. It makes me aware of my own sense of entitlement and I want to do better.

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