26 October 2012

And the rain came...

Living in a Western culture, I'm not sure we can really understand what an event like this rain means to people in Haiti.

Take my conversation today with my yard guy, O, for instance. I got a text from him around noon today. "I'm sorry to bother you, madam, but I wondered if you could pay me today. I'm out of food. I can come and get it if it works for you."

The rain affects so much more than just those displaced by flooding. Yesterday was payday, but he didn't come, probably because he couldn't find a tap tap (converted truck that serves as public transportation). Even today, I'm sure he had trouble finding one, as it's still been raining off and on.

Everything is closed today, because the government wanted people to stay home. But if everyone stays home, who sells food? And if I don't sell food today, what do I buy food for my family with tomorrow? Even if I pay O today, does that mean he'll be hungry until tomorrow?

I quickly texted him back that he could come any time today, then went to my kitchen to see what I had to give him. I still had some veggies sitting on my counter from last week's shopping trip that never got put in the fridge. They were going bad. My employee is going hungry, and I have so much food that I let it spoil. Opening the cupboard, I found a small bag of beans, filled a Ziplock with rice, and threw in some crackers in case he didn't have charcoal to cook with.

When he arrives an hour later, I slip him the bag with the money, using Kreyol phrases that try to pass it off as nothing. But I can see the relief on his face. He thanks me repeatedly, and I want to tell him that it's no big deal, that he's my brother--something they often tell me here, but I'm still uncomfortable with the intimacy of the word.

He offers to stay and work, but it's still raining and I can't let him, knowing he's hungry. We make small talk about the wedding he's going to tomorrow at our church, which lapses into a discussion about skin color. (Some people are clear skinned but still black, and others are just black. I fail to see the distinction.)

He turns to go home just as the rain starts to fall harder again. And I know hunger may be the least of Haiti's problems by the time it stops.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Christine for another glimpse into Haiti. Haiti is in my prayers as are you, David and Peanut.