Written by Craig and Christi Gabhart, Operations Managers with Many Hands for Haiti.
Patience class. Our class was in session this morning. It was test day.
As we left the dorm at 7:00 AM for staff/community devotions at the Sylvain Campus Gazebo, the intention was to return to the dorm afterward and spend at least the entire morning working on bookkeeping/accounting tasks. Right about 8:00 as our closing prayer was ending, some guests were arriving at the Gazebo. Yesterday the purchase of a small piece of land adjacent to the MH4H land had been negotiated. The sellers had come to exchange the land deed for the agreed upon amount of money.
Here in the Haitian countryside nearly ALL transactions, no matter what the nature, are completed in CASH. So…off to the bank we went to make a quick withdrawal and get back to complete the sale. The MH4H motorcycle is such an asset to the work being done. It provides quick and easy transportation, as easy as it can be on what we refer to as roads. We arrived at the bank a few minutes before it opened. Just a short wait and we were at the teller window greeting the nice Haitian woman who supervises the other bank tellers.
We are ‘preferred customers’ and have gotten pretty good at Haitian banking. We state why we came…”Nou vle Retre (a $pecified amount)” (We want to withdraw $—-). “Nou bezwen $—- in US and $—- chanje (shan-jeh) nan Gourdes”. (We need….. …..Change to Gourdes). Our friendly bank lady gives us an apologetic look and says, “Pa gen, nap tounen demen maten” (We don’t have it, come back tomorrow morning). But we say, “Nou gen moun tann pou nou.” (We have people waiting for us). NOPE, come back tomorrow. Seriously!!??!!
This is an example of Haitian money, Gourdes, but there was NONE today.
SO…now… scrounge around to see if we can ‘find’ enough to complete the land transaction. In the mean time, Claudin, MH4H agronomist who negotiated the land deal, needed a piece of plain white copy paper, not very easy to find here, so he could hand write the contract agreement for the sellers to sign. Then we needed to discuss some motorcycle repairs that were critically needed on his bike. All the while, the family was waiting for us at the Sylvain campus. Come to think of it, they were in patience class too.
Finally, we were all gathered back in the same place ready to count the cash and sign the contract. UH OH…guess what?… There is a third party that needs to be involved because the seller still owes money to the person he bought the land from. So Claudin takes off to see if he can find Bariedel, pronounced Bayade, the original land owner. We went to the neighborhood boutique to buy water to give to the seller family while we wait. At least we had the shade of the Gazebo.
Claudin returns…SUCCESS! Bariedel is on the back of the motorcycle! OK, now for the contract. The contract requires the sellers Haitian ID number off the sellers ID card. As Claudin is double checking the information he discovers that yesterday the seller had given his nickname rather than his given name which appears on the ID card. Bad news! The contract must be rewritten BY HAND with the correct spelling of his full name. We made the first move to go back to the dorm to get another piece of plain white copy paper. BUT, relief…Claudin had one extra sheet of paper in his backpack. Whew! We decide, to save time…. 🙁 the sellers could be counting the cash for the land sale while Claudin rewrites, by hand, the contract agreement that will be signed by both parties including witnesses.
With shaky hands, the son that has accompanied the family begins to count…slowly, carefully, cautiously. As we watch over, it is pretty clear that he will need some assistance. This young man can read, which it appears that his parents can not. Just one generation ago a large percentage of Haitian people were illiterate. This seems it would readily lend itself to fraudulent deals if people involved could not read a document or sign their name. Even today, as we make purchases which need a signed receipt or pay workers and ask for a signature, many times we get “X” on the signature line.
To assist with the counting, Claudin begins counting and laying bills in piles of an equal amount on a plank that is propped on concrete block stacks. Well of course the slightest breeze causes havoc with the bills laying loosely on the board. A stick from the ground serves as enough of a weight to hold the piles in place until the counting of dollars and gourdes has been verified. But now Claudin must finish the job of rewriting the contract. Wouldn’t you know…the ink pen he is using starts to run out. The writing was in blue ink…all we can find is black ink…that won’t do for the official contract. You’re KIDDING…right? OH! Thank goodness, the blue ink started to flow. Mesi Senye a! Thank the LORD! At this point, all THAT seemed to be was God showing his sense of humor and looking on to see if we could pass our patience class.
NOW… the contract is signed! We exchange smiles, words of thanks, and handshakes. We express to the sellers how thankful we are and ask them to come by on occasion to see how God will use this small parcel of land, added to the whole, for HIS glory. The elderly, slight framed woman stepped close to Claudin and wondered if we had a bible to give her. Another son wondered, “how about 2?” So we ended the time with a prayer and a gift of 2 Creole bibles.
Today’s Patience class, nearly four hours later… DISMISSED. Thank God, we passed the test. Bookkeeping and accounting will have to get done another day.
Look closely. The terra cotta colored roof on the right is the Agronomy Training Center. The area around that building with no visible trees is the Plantain tree field. The circular roof to the left is the thatch of the Gazebo. Close by, a bit to the left is the Equipping Center with a mango tree on the side before the tin roof went on.
Visiting MH4H board member, Tim Van Maanen assists Claudin
…Transplanting a few plantain trees
Agronom Claudin, Odenes (agronomy worker) and Tim
Pallets that came with the most recent shipment of Meals from the Heartland were cleverly turned into a wind screen for the temporary outdoor cooking area for the new Thrive program.
Another clever use of pallet scraps…a TRASH can attached to a mango tree
RIDE FOR A CAUSE blessed MH4H with a donation to purchase a 3-wheel motorcycle which will be a smart work vehicle for agronomy (crops and animals…the next time MH buys goats we won’t have to WALK them home), AND for construction (money will be saved on transportation costs because we can haul bags of cement and other materials ourselves). Our friend Morales is an experienced 3-wheeler driver.
The motorbike was purchased in Hinche and was driven back to Sylvain. Not an easy drive.
Trusses and rafters…ropes and ladders
Now it’s TUESDAY!