When I was dreaming of moving to Haiti, I always thought after each day my feet would be dirty, my hair would be messy and my eyes would be sparkling. This is a quote I read by Shanti that depicted the perfect life for me in Haiti. And it’s been true so far, yet those adjectives of messy and dirty take on a new meaning in Camp Marie. My eyes are always sparkling.
I have my own work space in the office, yet couldn’t imagine what I would possibly be doing to keep me there all day. I want to be covered in paint or installing filters and meeting recipients out on deliveries. Until Chris said hey… I have a project for you.
And now I am, well simply all in. GRANTS. My first one was tough, and admittedly a mountain to climb. The day we submitted the final was filled with thoughts of pending rejection and failure. None of which is true of course. It was my first grant after all and I allowed those feelings in for a moment. Until we received the notice we’d been advanced to the next phase in preparation for a final decision.
And there you have it! Beginners luck? Maybe.
There are four other grants in the works, and another one in second phase which includes a meeting in Port-au-Prince. I won’t say anymore.
My time at the desk is not exactly what I planned, but surprisingly rewarding. It’s not entirely the same as seeing first-hand the sparkling eyes of our filter recipients, yet I will trade not going on deliveries all the time to do the work that creates the sparkle.
It’s been four months since my adventure in water and sand began. Seems just yesterday and then maybe forever that I have been here in Camp Marie. We provide sustainable, safe water drinking solutions. But there is much more to it than that.
We recently shared that four new employees joined us, so I am not the newbie anymore! Gustav, a long time worker with Clean Water for Haiti was in an accident a couple years ago, and his leg was amputated a few months back. He came to work again in January. I am in awe of Gustav. Each day, his strength grows. He gets around really well on his crutches, almost the same as if he had two legs. I enjoy seeing him take on new tasks, like caring for the garden and watering the trees. This is in addition to preparing the trucks for deliveries by painting filters and filling sand bags. He joyfully works, he is steady and thorough. Sometimes, I hear him singing in the yard, but don’t tell him I know otherwise he may stop. Hearing Gustav sing while he works confirms that this is good; it’s really good here.
Because of water, three more men from Camp Marie have a job this month. There is a bounce in these guys’ step as they come to work each morning. We begin at the crack of dawn, it’s still dark outside and they arrive early. Eager to learn, proud to work and committed to providing clean water in their community and beyond.
I had the thrill of preparing their first paycheck. Each had only worked a day or two and the cash was little, but the pride and sense of dignity I shared with them in handing out those envelopes with their name on it was what we aim to do every day. Empowerment.
Because of water, men are rising up to take care of their families, plan for their future and provide a lesson to their children that poverty is not permanent. That poor is only in the wallet. We are sharing and learning and growing to be the best we can be together. Holding each other accountable to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. I keep seeing this verse from Micah 6:8, that has such deep meaning and direction for everyone. Keep your sense of right and wrong. Love completely. Remain humble.
As a result of clean water, we are making Haiti stronger.
I must admit there were a few nerves here; the Board Retreat had been on the calendar for months. I knew Chris and Leslie were leaving. They left me in charge, not quite as official as it sounds… alongside our foreman Evens. We keep moving to ensure we are providing clean water, because the communities depend on us.
It was quite a big deal because they hadn’t done this in years. If Chris and Leslie had to leave the country, they’d shut down the facility. It was a great feeling to know that I could contribute, nervousness aside. Only three months on the job and they felt confident they could leave (for 6 days! yikes!) and keep the doors open. If all goes well, this means peace of mind for the Rollings and continuous employment for the workers. We are building trust and confidence, on all fronts.
The goals are clear; therefore there weren’t any problems. The guys know the facility and the expectations. They worked as if Chris was sitting in the office and that made me happy.
It was so fun to coordinate what the guys needed, from preparing for installation day to icing the water coolers. Sometimes they asked… maybe thinking I hadn’t done it… and I had!! They laughed! Good job and more ice!!
We begin our day with prayer. Each morning I shared a verse from a few of my favorites, which felt applicable to our day and our mission. The guys thought so too. I loved seeing their smiles light up the early morning skies as I waved goodbye while the big white truck left the yard, wishing them a good day and 30 installations!!
Grateful for Miss Naomi, who was here to stay in the house and watch the kids. Because we think alike and she can cook! We supported each other, shared the chores and took decisions together to ensure life here continues as it should. And Naomi gets bonus points for giving Anna her medicine. I’m still not a fan of dogs.
The girls (some teachers from Canaan) came in for the weekend like a breath of fresh air, full of witty comments, great dance moves and a spirit that can keep you in awe of their courage and zest for life. They filled my soul and made me laugh, often. I am feeling so encouraged for our world’s future with these young women at the helm. They can do anything, and they will!
It wasn’t all about the installation forms, tracking receipts or mixing cement. It’s about a group of people, who believe in a cause greater than ourselves. People who smile when the sun shines, work for the glory of God and find a way to make each other laugh, encourage one another and as my Dad always said build each other up.
So, the books are balanced, filters are delivered, the grass is mowed and the kids survived 6 days without their parents. We claim success.
Jesus expects us to take care of one another. He looks after the least of these and I believe we should too.
At Clean Water for Haiti, we find joy in partnering with our donors. We collaborate together to serve the communities in our region by providing clean water and could do nothing without your generosity and financial support.
We’ve been called the hands and feet in Haiti. Living here with a heart for service and a love for the Haitians. No matter our story or background, we must take care of one another, just as Jesus asks of us.
We all understand that the least of these are indeed the poor. Most Haitians live in poverty, lacking adequate shelter, food and clean water. They are missing the basic necessities of life, which defines them as poor. Poor, yet not in spirit or faithfulness and from this comes their joy.
There are many reasons why Haiti is a difficult country, challenging circumstances, lack of resources and so many hard things to face each day. Amidst these difficulties, the Haitians still find joy in life. I find their faith stronger than mine. Though they may be classified as poor, they are rich in faith. When I witness or experience their faith is when I become the least of these. There is so much to learn from them. And so, they now they take care of me by sharing their hearts. Jesus expects us to take care of one another.
We are here to help the poor, yet we are here together. The Haitians and the foreigners both serving together from a place of love and grace. And this brings joy for all of us.
We wish you a beautiful holiday season and hope you find your joy in the most surprising places!
It’s easy to get tangled up in the pace of the season. Even in Haiti, the expat community will come together to share a meal with gratitude and Thanksgiving. Yes, they found turkies in country! I won’t mention those who bring the 20lb. birds on a flight from the States in their carry on luggage, humoring TSA for sure.
As we share our gratitude and appreciation this week, I will remind myself that we shall give thanks, everyday. Find appreciation, everyday. Be grateful, everyday. Not just words. Heartstring emotions. A pause to say, this is good. Thank you and smile. Share one of those from the inside smiles that comes up through the eyes. Because life is hard, because we struggle and our heart aches for what it aches for, no matter where we are in the world. Nonetheless, be grateful. For everything, everyday, even the hard stuff.
Sometimes these lessons of gratitude come from the Haitians. A simple hello and how are you is met with a smile, a positive response and it ends with thanks to God. There may be a thousand difficulties, yet God gets the appreciation and gratitude.
So I will intently choose kindness, to be positive and show gratitude. I think I will be amongst good company.
kim snyder 25/11/17