First impressions from Cabois

 In General, Partners Program

Blog #1 Mary Padden
July 5, 2010

Hi! This is Mary, a Haiti Partners intern for the summer of 2010. For the next month and a half, I am living in the rural community of Cabois along with my good friend Kietrie. We are staying with families, spending time with various members of the community, and working with the students and teachers at the Cabois Community School. I had a great first week and a half in Cabois and was very busy getting acquainted with the area. My host family is extremely welcoming and generous and they do everything they can to ensure that I am comfortable and happy.

My days usually start off by bathing in the river and carrying back water to my homestay. I am far from mastering the ability to carry water on my head – but I’m working on it! The other day, on the way back from the river and while carrying a bucket of clean laundry on my head, an elderly woman ran out of her house and broke out into laughter. The sight of a “blan” (foreigner) carrying something on their head was simply too much for her. After laughing, she then told me how happy it made her to see me here, living as Haitians do. I was glad to provide the day’s comedic event and even more touched that she is happy that I am here.

Blog #1 Kietie Noe
July 5, 2010

With us on our flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince were hoards of different church groups in matching t-shirts bearing such messages as “Only Jesus Can Save Haiti” and “Bringing Jesus to Haiti.” The true irony of the shirts did not hit me until one week after arriving in Cabois, the village where Mary and I currently residing. Cabois is a community that, in many ways, is the most utopian and true to the teachings of Jesus of any I have ever seen or heard of. I wish not to imply that life here is perfect, obviously. Life here is very difficult because people don’t have the basic things they need. As a community, however, the values practiced intuitively by all are very idyllic and unselfish. Nobody has much but everybody shares absolutely everything and cares very deeply about everyone else’s wellbeing. The families we are living with are being paid a fair amount for us to stay with them and, as a result, have more or less been feeding the whole lakou (small segment of the neighborhood surrounding our respective homes) since we arrived.

Another instance of pure unselfishness occurred during my first solo walk around the village. It began to rain which, being from Seattle, did not actually alarm me in the slightest. I had not walked far in the rain, however, before a woman I had never met came towards me and ushered me in to her home where she offered me the chair that she had been sitting on, the only one in the room. She refused to let me go until the rain had stopped. When it had, she found a neighbor nearby and he accompanied me the rest of the way home. I am told that it is rare for people to have to walk alone here because it is customary for anyone who witnesses a lone walker to join them and keep them company on their journey. It made no difference that I could not speak Creole.

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