I came back from Haiti just before Thanksgiving and I feel I have yet to process it. We all have such busy lives, stopping and thinking about something really does seem to have a chance to happen. I don’t I fantasize too much about the Victorian era when I think of all the time women had to do things like hand skills, cooking and writing, but think I am thinking of the well off.
That is one think I saw little of in Haiti. I never knew such poverty. As I first saw Port au Prince I thought surely the poverty I was seeing everywhere was the result of too densely packed urban living and the earthquake. I was struck by how everywhere I looked people were busy dong things, creating jobs for themselves. I saw the fronts of so many homes double as stores, repair shops, woodworking, machine shops, welding, grocery stores, car part stores, hardware and construction shops. It seemed that anyone with even a bit of a skill or a tool, specialized in that, put out a board saying what he did and starting looking for business and work to do. Clearly these were not lazy people.
But then we drove out of Port Au Prince, and it continued. I soon realized we were even out of the suburbs and were now in other villages, still the absolute poverty continued. A proud, clean, self reliant people. Clearly these people know not to expect much from others and so have become dependent on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness. I saw this over and over, from the children finding a toys to play with from a plastic water bottle rolled with a wire while you ran or rock tied to a string to Ronell our driver fixing the truck on a daily basis with duct tape and a wrench. (I still dont know how he got the truck out of the creek with those two things alone) I wish I could have spent a month just living with them for they had so many skills, car repair, soap making, cooking, hand washing- that I would have loved to learn. They had so much knowledge I thirsted for, yet they never knew it.