Haiti is suffering from the massive Jan 12 earthquake and needs our help. Below I've posted some first-hand accounts of the quake from people in Haiti. Please consider a donation to an organization in Haiti. If you would like to give directly to a Haitian family, please contact me (anna.versluis@gmail.com).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A frilly purple umbrella

The spring rainy season in Haiti has begun. It is a bit of a shock to spend the day talking with people who have had friends and family swept away by flash flood and debris flows and then, on my way home in the evening, pass farmers looking approvingly at the gathering storm clouds and expressing their wish for a good rain. The onion seeds that were planted earlier this month and last are now being transplanted to cooler, higher ground in the mountains above Fond Verrettes. The seedlings, planted in one of Fond Verrettes' ravines, were painstakingly watered and weeded by hand each day. Now the transplants will have to depend on rainfall. Despite the risk of flood disaster, daily life in Fond Verrettes demands hope and gratitude for a good rain.
On Saturday I planned to finish the last seven interviews in the town of Fond Verrettes. Fleurimond and I walked across the ravines to the far side of Fond Verrettes at 7 am when the sun was just starting to get warm and the sky was a beautiful, clear blue. Once I settled into the first interview Fleurimond left to return to his own work with the peasant farmer cooperative. (A truckload of fertilizer in arrived this week and people are coming by to pick it up via mule.) I finished three interviews in the Bois Neuf quartier and then waited out the first big downpour of the morning on the porch of the third interviewee. When the rain slackened, I set out across the ravines for the quartier of Kornel (see photo). The sun soon returned and everything was fresh and humid, drops of water sparkling everywhere. As I was finishing the second interview in Kornel another downpour began and we took shelter in an abandoned house as the rain thundered down on the leaky tin roof so that we had to shout to be heard.

I didn't realize that it was as late in the day as it was—2 o'clock. I'd told Fleurimond that I'd be back for lunch at 1 o'clock. He got worried and came looking for me. Amazingly, he found us. He showed up, his coat drenched, a wild look on his face, and, over it all, a girl's small frilly purple umbrella, which he'd brought for me not knowing I had an umbrella along. I felt awful that I'd worried him but also had to laugh at how he looked, with the child's umbrella that was more of a hat than an umbrella since it hardly covered his shoulders. (Fleurimond is tall and strong, which amazes Ben and I since it appears he subsists on little more than french fries, which he makes with local potatoes, and lots of oil and salt.)

The empty house we took refuge in had whitewashed walls inside and kids had drawn pictures on them in blue crayon. One was a life-sized drawing of what looked to me like a female U.N. peacekeeper standing stiffly like one of those toy nutcracker soldiers. Fleurimond pointed out a drawing of a woman, a stick figure with an interesting protuberance out to one side. It took me a moment to realize she was a pregnant stick figure in profile. Next to the figure someone had written "Andrenie is pregnant" in an amalgam of mispelled Kreyol and French. It was such a funny drawing everyone laughed and the others tried to figure out who Andrenie is. It was such a funny drawing I should have taken a picture. . .


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