Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Childhood in Rural Haiti

Gran Dodo with infant Nana

As elsewhere in the world (we in the U.S. and much of Europe are the exceptions),  the community, led by older women, trains the young in doing laundry, fetching water, maintaining a cooking fire and, of course, cooking.  Children as young as 3 years of age are already apprenticed in these careers.

Here is the boy next door, 8 or 9 year old W. (No one is tracking age here.) A frail orphan, left with his maternal grandmother  here in the hills, W. assiduously does laundry, and looks after toddler cousins.  As visitors from a country where childhood is sacrosanct, we are aghast.  What is the take-away?  Are there appropriate responsibilities, expectations for our own children, in the context of our schooled, technology-driven economy and world?  Something lost as we move up and away from dirt floors, hand washing, barefoot trekking in cornfields...?

Everywhere I look in the mountains - and indeed, throughout the coastal towns of Haiti and its capital, Port au Prince as well - you can see W., all the W.'s of the world, in fact - thin limbs, protruding tummies, reddish hair.  Over time, this threatens to numb me.

Watkliffe learns responsibility for a cousin
Watkliff is the man in charge

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