Today is Sunday, the weekend. We couldn’t understand the concept of having a weekend whilst we were living in Haiti, so we put ourselves to good use building benches, tables and items for the new outside classroom, made a tarp roof (under Thuan’s tarparelle) for each of the external classes. We painted each item with bright colours for the pupils and assembled each of our school items in their play yard, hoping that each item would make school life a little easier and more fun. Since the earthquake, many people have been too scared to go back inside any buildings, so many day-to-day activities and basic living now take place outside.
The compound, our home for the next few weeks, is set back from the main road running through CDB. To get to it, you have to pass a muddy track with partially built concrete houses on one side and a ‘tent town’ on the other. These tiny, plastic homes often accommodate an entire family of up to 10 people, which makes me wonder whether there is enough room for them all to lie down to sleep at the same time! Whenever you walk this path, you don’t get very far before you have children dangling off any part of you that they can get a hold of. They all know your name and are desperate for a bit of fun or to be carried for a while.
Their exquisite eyes and beauty beam up at you, lift you up and grab hold of the little kid inside you. Running about, getting dirty, playing tig, I am loving every second of this, but reality brings you thudding back to earth when the older kids remind you that they are starving and they look at you with their famished eyes, which have a look and depth that I have never experienced before. Some of the children have expressions on their face of old, sad souls that have seen things or gone through things that no person, never mind a child, should have experienced. How can you help someone who has lost everything? How is it fair? What can be done? We must help. We skip and run and cuddle.
There is no rubbish collection service in Haiti, so giant piles of garbage are everywhere. The rubbish mound in our compound has reached an atrocious height. I am quite sure that nothing has been done to this for quite some time and the heap of shit, sweating in the midday sun, has a stench that’s taking over the yard. Not only this, but the animal life it attracts makes you shiver – flies, mosquitoes, spiders, cockroaches, ants, maggots, lizards, rats and disease. I decide I need to do something about this, so, armed with spade, shovel, matches, lighters, gloves, 2 cans of repellent and a nose clip, I get to work. Everything and anything has been piled on this for weeks: clothes, tampax, food, toiletries, it’s disgusting.