Thursday, February 9, 2012
Climbing the Green and Brown Hill
We took our one pleasure trip of the week today. After morning clinics, Ronel drove a big group in the pink midwives' Jeep to Bassin Zim, a fabulous triple-basin waterfall that comes down out of a cave. As we drove the 45-minutes over rutted back-country Haitian roads, bright green vegetation contrasted with dusty brown eroded hills, banks, and dry grass. It's oh, so dry, but some things always survive, and I'm learning how Haitians value that life that keeps on coming. In a nameless little hamlet on the way, a tiny, tiny puppy wobbled across the road just as the Jeep's huge tires churned around the bend. From the passenger seat (the only one who had on a seat belt) I gasped, and Ronel made a masterful swerve around the “ti-chen”, and he scrambled his way into the dusty grass on the shoulder. Nobody wants to see death that isn't necessary. Whack and eat the rooster: fine. Flatten the puppy: not so much.
Things in Haiti are actually getting better, as slowly as the hills are being climbed. Over my 3 years and 6 visits, I see progress and improvements in Hinche-- painfully slow but steady progress. Each visit, I see more paved roads, electric lines, and small businesses. There is a brand-new huge cultural and civic building ready to open, and now, (thanks to Va Tech, Midwives for Haiti, and Engineers without Borders!) running water at the hospital. More cell phones and motorcycles. Haiti is relentlessly grinding in a positive direction.
The final hill before the Bassin Zim waterfall is a HUGE hill, both up and then down, to the basin. As the Jeep made that climb, people were walking up over the crest, carrying jugs of water from the basin. There was one woman with a jug in each hand, and one on her head, almost at the top. That is the Haiti that can bring you to tears. That's it. They carry their water, and they keep on climbing, moving forward against obstacles that would collapse many other people on the roadside.
A lot of folks have helped Haiti, including Midwives for Haiti, especially in this town of Hinche...but I really credit, most of all, that resilient spirit that hoards and values everything. Haitians are exquisitely polite, and they tread carefully. Life is precious; survival is quite a struggle. We preserve everything we can here; opportunity, education, water, food, and really, life. Even the tiniest ti-chen.