My Haiti Diary

Photos and entry by Maureen Mahoney-Barraclough

I have been home from Haiti for over a week now. Every day I discover that I am not really all together home yet. Just like my UFGH teammates, many everyday occurrences trigger vivid memories of my time in Haiti. Paved roads, driving my own car, variety and abundance of food, clean water from the tap all remind me of how comfortable (and grateful) I am. But my memories also inspire me since the Haitian people have none of these amenities and yet they were joyful, generous, loving, and appreciative in all my interactions with them.

Also, the several times I was able to walk from our hotel to the hospital, I waved to a family that lived in a tent near our hotel. In a modest tent labeled USAID, I noticed a father and mother, two teenage girls, two young girls, and a very young boy living in a tent that might be 10 foot square, at most. Their tent looked sturdy enough, but it was located next to a garbage heap. In the morning, the father was cooking over an outdoor charcoal fire. The girls were dressed neatly in green and white uniforms walking to school. When I passed by another time, the father was sitting on the stone bench outside the tent reading to the very young boy. The mother was preparing some kind of green vegetable in a towel in her lap. I wondered in amazement where they get clean water, where they bathe, how the girl's uniforms look so clean and pressed.

As I reflect on this, my son and husband are tent camping in Yellowstone. Their tent is in a beautiful pristine environment. They have lots of food available to them, camp showers and toilets, and most importantly, if it gets too rough, they can just drive home to all our routine comforts. I don't wish lack of comfort for anyone; I just wish that everyone everywhere could enjoy the stability and comfort that we do. Through their example, I am reminded every day to be joyful.

As I drive into the paved parking lot for Urgent Care in my hometown to get treatment for my pesky cough, images of the Salle d'Urgence at the Hopital Adventiste in Carrefour, Haiti materialize once again and disorient me. The Salle d'Urgence is a large light brown canvas tent erected over a cement pad, maybe 20x30 feet. There is an open door at either end that provides some circulation in the 100-degree heat and 100 percent humidity. Gray woolen blankets are spread loosely on the cement floor, art supplies are stacked on the wooden benches lining the walls of the tent, our Haitian translator is writing new Creole words for us, and best of all, about 20 children are eagerly awaiting commencement of today's art projects and circle games.

Our translator, Roosevelt, (very proud of his name honoring our 32nd US president) teaches us Creole words like pliye (fold), papye (paper), penti (paint), koule (color), seezors (no explanation necessary). Creole is a lyrical language, the very cadence and inflections of which make me smile. Read More

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