Friday, May 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Haitians

Story #1
This year Ben and I have lived in a house that is split into three separate apartments. We live in the middle apartment, and Jaime and Katie, Quisqueya's 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, lived in the front. They are our dear friends and we love them very much. They have a cat named Ori, who has been passed through at least three missionary families. Ori is an excellent cat in terms of behavior- no weird scratching or peeing on things- but is a total failure in the one area that matters in Haiti: rodent killing. But in any case, Ori is a pleasant, easy cat. When Jaime and Katie decided they were not returning to Haiti for next school year, they made arrangements for Tiffany, another teacher living on campus, to take Ori. The plan was for Ori to live in Jaime and Katie's apartment for a few days after those two girls moved out, and Tiff would come feed the cat.

Jaime and Katie moved back to America on Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday afternoon their cleaning lady came by. On Friday morning Tiff came by to feed the cat. The cat, and all of its food, was gone. In an I-understand-every-fifth-word conversation with our gate guard, we heard confirmation that yes, the maid took that cat. Just took her. Without asking anyone permission, without communicating, just took the cat. Pet- gone. Jaime and Katie had already told her they were leaving, and that yesterday, Thursday, would be her last day. Now she is not returning, and there is no way to contact her.

Story #2
Wednesday was the last day of school. Thursday, yesterday, some high school boys came up to campus to play soccer. Ben went over to play with them, and had a fantastic time. He came back soaked and caked in mud, due to the fact that it is the rainy season and there was a shower during the game. His shoes were dripping and muddy, so he left them outside to dry. This morning we had a staff meeting, so we headed over to campus. When we returned after lunch, Ben's shoes were clean and drying in the sun. The soles and laces were removed, and drying on rocks nearby. Our gate guard, Stanley, had seen the dirty shoes and cleaned them. Nobody asked him to do that, and he certainly doesn't get paid to do it. He just did it to be helpful.

Sometimes, I don't understand Haitians. Why do you pull your car into the middle of the road when it breaks down? Things are often left half-finished. Late. I think my ways are better. I judge.

Then sometimes, I'm in awe. You are so much stronger than I am. You endure. You bear. Your faith is ten times mine, under ten times harder circumstances. I hear Ceyab, another gate guard, singing outside my window when it's his shift, singing hymns for hours each day and reading the Bible that never leaves his lap. I know just a sliver of how hard his days are, how he commutes over an hour on tap-taps to Carrefour, how he works nights and misses his small kids' evenings. But he sings hymns of gratitude and praise anyway.



  1. could be that the maid did not know that the cat had a new person to car for it and was acting in the cat's best interest?

    sounds like you are surrounded by many special people. enjoyed reading about them!

  2. Dang posted the story before me. :)

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  4. Haha Tiff please also post it... it was too funny as we searched around the apartment for the cat...

  5. @elizabeth, what we cannot ignore is the fact that chat griot (fried cat) is a delicacy here...

    I am kidding. Mostly.

  6. beautiful stories.... especially the 2nd :-)
    The Haitians are definitely more resilient than I... I expect to learn a lot from them!



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