The following is a reflection by Carol Dezwarte, a member of the team visiting Gonaives, Haiti, on January 18-25. This is Carol’s first trip to Haiti.
Photo day. When a school is built at Etoile Ministry, children will need sponsors. Perhaps then more than one child from each family can afford some education. Today the families gather to let our photographer snap individual photos. They will receive a print of what is probably their first family portrait. When we arrive, they have been waiting shoulder to shoulder on the backless wooden benches in the 9 by 13 yard temporary church, built of branches and USAID tarps.
The moms look proud. The children are scrubbed, with hair done up in ribbons. How can their dresses and shirts be so white? Yesterday we saw the green river where this neighborhood does laundry.
Unlike the other days we’ve come to the free after-school program, today we have no singing or games. Families wait for one photo at a time. After an hour, it is so hot that I ask Tim to adjust the tarp to help block the sun. He cannot. No one else complains, and when the hem of my skirt drops to the dirt floor, the person by me quickly scoops it up. Next time I see a sponsorship photo of a child, I will remember these circumstances. Such is the hope of education for a child’s future. Even so, a good teacher we met here makes $87 a month. He sleeps on the concrete floor of his spotless home, perhaps 10 by 12 feet, shared with his wife and four children.
Our hosts bring the team a meal of rice and beans, and cold drinks. After 110 photos, our photographer cannot eat.
For movie night, we spent two hours popping corn over a charcoal burner in our hosts’ Haitian kitchen. Tim compiled a DVD this morning, while sitting next to a gas engine generator, with twelve children peering at his laptop screen. Now the people are let back into the church door one at a time and each receives one cup of popcorn wrapped in a napkin. We must have given out 200. Kids, teens, and a few adults watch the DVD of themselves–their after school activities, Christmas meal, and soccer club. They laugh and hoot.
I am humbled. The fields are white.