Haiti surprised me. First impressions…The toilets are normal. There is toilet paper. The Tigers are on television. We had pizza and cheeseburgers for dinner.
Of course there are many many differences. The roads are worse than after a Michigan winter. This city streets are very winding and hilly. Like in any big city, people are walking around, selling fruit on the side of the road and small little one room shops selling rice or pop or whatever. The roads were one were mostly narrow and there are not as near as many people on the streets as in some of the big African cities I have been in. But, Haiti is not Africa and it is very hard to compare the two. In Ethiopia and Kampala there are many minority groups and people dressing from their cultural backgrounds. In Port-au-Prince the people are all dressed in trendy clothes.
I also did not see many children. This was weird to me. Two men blew me kisses. Most people just mind their own business. It was nice to drive around a bit and get a feel for the city. I did not have any expectations, but it also was not what I expected. We saw a few tent cities that are left over from the earthquake and you can still see occasional damage left over.
Our host is wonderful and has educated us on a lot of stuff. Today we learned about Voodoo and Christianity and poverty and beer and childhood slavery. He also talked about very young children who have sex for food and money. Then we ended up at the “Most Educated Man in Haiti’s” house. He has about 12 PhD.’s, ran for president of Haiti, wrote a handful of books and told us how Haitians were crucial in settling Quebec. He only spoke French, but showed us his plaques and awards books and accolades. It was a bit surreal just showing up randomly at a man’s house and listening to his accomplishments and then leaving.
As we arrived back at our hotel, a thunderstorm was rolling in over the mountains and we ate dinner under an awning listening to rain and thunder. Tomorrow we start training bring and early. 40 participates all working with children who are being abused, neglected and/or in slavery. What a task! I love every second.