Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Marianje and her Neighbors of Mon Bouton

Mariange, stunningly beautiful even in worn rags, speaks her mind to me last year for a presentation at Haitian Studies Association, "What Woman Wants, God Wants." I tried to tell it, tell it her way. Words did not fail me, no sir-ee. Someday, I will tell you.

Mariange had been an orphan, and raised by Gran Dodo along with her sisters. Perhaps that explains why she married young? She had married relatively young, for a rural Haitian girl, in her late teens, to the much-older, but hard-working, church-going and capable Mesye R. They are a dedicated couple, and it does seem that love grows.  Then followed three girls, like stairs.

Magali's youngest (standing..er, tottering in bare feet) tries to put it together. The children watch and learn from each other. They have never seen materials like this before. Note the house Watkliffe constructed from the sturdy cardboard toddler books! What else would you do with a book, once you've looked at it, eh? 
Magali, adult on left, doesn't complain as every one tries to help. Never too young to work here. Her oldest is a skilled laundress and chief dishwasher; Watkliffe, at 8 (or 9? no one is sure) can earn his keep already, doing laundry.
Yes, she can!
First, scraping and scrubbing
Then, the rinse water...
Evline is 5 years old, or so. She has not been to school - yet. But with the family's new sponsor helping, (You know who you are, MG!) she and her younger sibling will be starting soon.
Time for a break  Hmm, what to do with these things?
Uh-unh baby!  Watkliffe admonishes the eager toddler.

A young assistant brings over some mashed gruel, as Meeta strives to wean her 3 month old. (!)
This infant will be left with Gran Dodo, for her to care for, and Mom will return to the capital to do...something. Anything. Anything to get by, and send food and what she can back up to the mountains. Do not weep for her; this is as good as it gets, and it has been going on for decades, centuries, as people try and get by.

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