Grim, but not unusual. "Ane a sa a pi red pou nou,manit pwa vann 325 goud pwa nwa. yon gen tet chaje pou plante pwa."
What, if anything, should be done, dear readers? Going hungry here is not acute, it's chronic. Some of us tackle the erosion problem, the soil degradation; others take on Family Planning. Still others try to come up with work-for-pay projects that even the illiterate might engage in; others build schools and talk about training teachers. But it's food that's the issue Food and fuel to cook it. I want to tell a better story, a happy ending story. People are tired of the same-old same-old Haiti tragedies. It takes an earthquake to really shake us to the foundations, to fund the foundations, shake those trees.
|The land is not yielding enough, the hurricanes reduced the harvest. Many cannot afford to buy beans to re-seed, for a next harvest, si Dieu vle. No, not unusual in most of the world - but most of the world is not 90 minutes from Miami! This is rural Haiti, land that I love.|
|Gran is always smiling, although Makilanje's red tinged hair is the tell-tale sign of kwashiorkor. Folks here will eat when there's food, and when there's not, they tighten their belts and make do. When I'm there, everyone has more to eat being as I am a "paying" guest, but still, it seems there is never quite enough to go around.|
Me? I seem to be the only one with a decreased appetite here. I'm more than willing to share. Rice and beans, beans and rice, corn meal and beans - a small plate is more then enough for me. I keep going on whatever - guzzling plenty of (treated?) water, coffee in my thermos and a bottle of hot sauce wherever I go. The gong takes a lot out of me, but it energizes me as well. I can't explain it, but after hiking all day and visiting folks, managing as best I can with my ever-more-proficient Kreyol...who needs to eat? I'm too tired to eat, and anyway, there's more that way for everyone else.
| Don't let anyone tell you that girls and women do the all work. |
Hunger is an equal opportunity employer.
Wonel gathers kindling, tends the fire, gets a pot going for rice with the occasional bean thrown in.
An even younger neighbor boy is chief cook for his siblings; they lost their mother recently; she was one of the few deaths from cholera - contracted in Lavil, the city, where she'd been a ti machand,
from their small holding in the mountains. But look - he's cooking! They have some rice, provided by one of the church groups or neighbors. But, still, he's not particularly happy, because all he has is a tomato bouillon cube for flavoring, and I of course carry none in my pockets.
|Hard not to pity the dogs, cats, the tiniest kittens and chickens who all compete for crumbs, grains, that hit the ground.|
Before and after the hurricanes, Ludya's family - her husband, kids and mother-in-law constructed a room from tarps, furniture and salvaged lumber and walls of their former home that had collapsed. Ludya wishes she'd learned something, anything, she tells me. She'd been orphaned as an infant. She's had no schooling, she's very thin, not strong enough to work the land, and had no exposure to the buy-and-sell life experience that many rural girls - and boys - grow into.
|Gran still smiles - she's 75 years old now and has armfuls of babies, toddlers and young ones to care for. The young women who have work of some sort or another in Lavil, come to birth and nurse their babies here. And then, they return to Lavil...Yes, some of the putative fathers visit some of the time. Some manage to bring something to feed the children; it's not consistent nor sufficient, but most do what they can. And grandparents on all sides pitch in - as best they are able.|
She tells me that she is sad that she doesn't feel she can do anything. And her youngest child is listless and sick much of the time, and doesn't speak yet - the toddler is maybe 29, 30 months old. What she does is take her down the mountains and into Lavil, and waits at some clinic. But medicine is not the solution. Nothing here that more food wouldn't take care of. Somehow, everyone here survives, one summer to the next. I am always impressed.
Nothing new under this sun, this glorious sun. The survival rate is the uplifting news.