Monday, October 25, 2010

WATER! Dlo, Dlo!

What water do people drink in rural Haiti?

Up in the mountains, I can say: folks get water for drinking from one "ti sos" - a spring. For washing, they bathe down at the "Oache-Oache" and will carry water up from there for washing (using sparingly) of dishes. Visitors and those that cannot carry their own "bokit" have water carried up for bathing and washing - - this is a job for several folks when we have visitors staying over.

No one boils water to drink (or course not!).



















Some, especially our visitors, add bleach (Klorox) into the kanari (clay jug) or bokit with a spigot (this is newly introduced innovation. Some families pay a few goudes and add "chemie" - a chemical treatment - their spigot cum bokit -- but most do not bother.

I see that. I watch those water jugs, let me tell you.
I catch those kids pouring their ti gallon of water into the big household bokit with spigot. And nobody is adding any "chemie" or bleach.
We all live to see another day. Somehow. Anyhow.




















Am I dreaming? It seems my neighbors drink a LOT LESS than we blans do,

Indeed, people also eat a lot less frequently, but also a lot more when they do eat -- huge bowls, if not platters of mayi moulin ak sos pwa, pa egzanp.

And me? I drink like a fish and eat like a bird, BUT one rule of thumb has been : LOTSA coffee! So that's when I insist on maintaining my "Prinzess" routines...gotta have that kafe le matin. So, a huge chodye is prepared with coffee, and then poured into a HUGE thermos that is the size of a three year old rural Haitian child...This too is a little business, provides a job (and coffee!) for the families involved. Ok, ok - it's my ONE luxury, will you allow me that?


I didn't know that, honestly, when we first arrived in the mountains of Haiti. Like you, I had read that coffee (and bread) is what Haitians get for breakfast. Well, let me debunk that stereotype! Even in the city, among the fat cats and the not-so-fat cats, coffee (and bread?!) is not the breakfast of champions. Breakfast, indeed, eating a morning meal (or, for some, any meal) is not guaranteed. You have to hustle if you want to eat, or drink, or be merry.

In the mountains, the thermos of coffee keeps me company all day and my neighbors marvel at how much I drink. But: I NEVER get sick in Haiti and I swear it is because the water I drink is boiled, it is in the boiled coffee. That, and I swear by the few drops of Klorox someone usually remembers to squirt into the large, traditional clay kanari and the two small clay kreche.












In the photo, I am the one with the water bottle. Madam Lwides is the one with the bokit on her head.
When hiking around and working in school, and hiking to the ti jaden with everyone, it is obvious: no one else carries a water bottle, and my Haitian friends sip very gingerly when I offer to share. Workers in a koumbite, in the fields, are brought water (and coffee) - as well as a meal - in the fields... Again, I observe people drink sparingly....





Ah, Mesye Gistav works here.He would certainly never dream of wearing shoes to work in the fields. He sets out with hat, tools and satchel woven from local materials by local artisans and will dig, plant, and sekle, rache zab. (cut and pull weeds). If he works as "vann journay" (day worker) he would earn say 35 goudes (2008 rate) which was not quite a dollar. He would get coffee in the morning, water and a meal of beans and corn meal, or (rarely) rice at about 11:00. Quitting time was some hours later.

Other alternatives for paysans, farmers, moun ki travay te would be to form "kombite" - work teams, work collectives, and take turns as a group working in one anothers' large plots of land. There are few such large land owners these days - what with inheritance patterns being as they are, with all children inheriting equally, boys and girls, most owned land are small plots scattered here and there, bits and pieces from a mothers' side, a fathers' side, and so on.

The "trickle down" effect has resulted in land plots being a small trickle, quilts of plots that one hikes to (or not), that one plants (or not) and weeds and perhaps, hopefully, harvests.

No, there is no irrigation, and little watering of gardens here. When it rains it pours, and if it doesn't rain, farmers and their families are, well, sunk.

There are occasional surprises, however. Like one summer, Madame Jean produced some tomatoes! Once.

Most folks take a bath once a week, whether they need it or not...














Water play!

















And the goats? Well, they get set out (and tied) to pasture, but as to water, well...there's no well for goats. Some people have a gourd hanging inside a small lean-to goat shelter...I believe they put salt in it...water? Beasts don't get much either!















Washing dishes, doing laundry. Water is used very sparingly.

Gran wonders and smiles at my photographing these mundane activities that show: Haiti Works! And How!



















So, if water access was improved, and the water got closer and the grass got greener, what would women do with all their "spare" time? We asked them. "Fe ti komes," "Etidye bwode," "Etidye koude" They'd try to do a little peddling, schlepping of goods, they'd learn to embroider, they'd learn to sew.

















Niagara Falls, Haiti.
Visiting students, some from Poprens, some from lot bo dlo (overseas) check out our water resources, our zone's Niagara Falls.

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