Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boiling Bleach

Confessions of a Would-Be Haiti Homemaker

I am one of the luckiest people in the entire country of Haiti, because I have a washing machine.

The vast majority of laundry here in Haiti is done by hand, in large plastic tubs. It is hard on the clothes; hand scrubbing and line drying fade and wear out the fabric. It takes all day. Ladies make their own powder detergent.

There are three washing machines on campus and one dryer. The three washing machines are not connected to a water line, so they get filled up by hand, using a hose, twice (once to start, and then again to rinse).

There are 22 people living on campus, and we share those machines. We each get one four-hour shift per week to do all our laundry.

Ben and I have a shift that is in the school day. You can't just dump your laundry, turn on the machine, and go, because the water has to be filled up by hand. So we hired a lady named Lala to do our laundry for us in the machines. She charges $20 a month to do our laundry every Tuesday.

However, there is one main laundry problem we still have:

Whites.

Did I mention the hose that fills the laundry machines only has cold water?

White clothing, practically overnight, turns yellow. Even using bleach doesn't get our the nasty-body-sweat-yellow when you only have cold water.

So we do this:
I take my soup pot, fill it with water and bleach, and boil it on the stove. The is my biggest pot, but it only fits one shirt or pillowcase at a time.

Then I take out the white item and throw it on the laundry line, which is really an old electrical cord (no longer plugged in to anything), strung out behind my apartment to dry in the sun.

This morning I tried to put in two pillowcases to save time. So I put in three cups of bleach.

Oops.

One pillowcase came our sparkling white, while the other one literally melted into strips in my hands.

Add that one to the cleaning rag pile....

Fun fact: Guess what the Kreyol word for bleach is.  

Klorox.

Katie

1 comment:

  1. Ben and Kaiti,
    I started following your blog after the earthquake when my aunt told me about you guys. Just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you, and that the honesty of your writing is inspiring. My husband and I feel that we are called to be missionaries after he finishes medical school, and your adventures in Haiti help remind me of our purpose as Christians. Just when I am tempted to complain about laundry/cooking/etc. something you write brings back my perspective. Thank you for your willingness to follow where He leads you. Love, A Supportive Reader

    ReplyDelete

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