If you remember from our previous post, Friday was such a long day that we had to break it up into 2 parts! If you missed “Moving In Day 2 (Part 1)” please click on the link to read it or this blog will not make any sense! I will pick up right where I left off with 4 things still up in the air:
- We still had 2 broken down cars but we had a mechanic on the way.
- We only had 2 beds at either house but once we got the cars moving again we could pick up the beds and our welder told us he would keep an eye on them for now.
- We no longer had water at the boys’ house (we currently have a hand pump there) but our 2 plumbers were coming back at 4:00 after getting off of work.
- I still had not had time to go into Leogane to try and figure out how to get some solar lights to the kids’ houses while we waited for electricity.
It was only 10:00am at this point so I decided to go ahead and drive into Leogane to try to find lights while we waited on everything else to begin happening. I drove to a store that I was familiar with just to see what they had, and for the first time that day, something worked out! They had exactly what we needed. I bought 2 solar lanterns for our security guards, 2 solar hanging lights just to have them, and 4 solar lighting kits with 3 light bulbs each. These kits were exactly what I was looking for and were very reasonably priced. Each kit came with a small solar panel that connected to and charged a small battery. After the battery is charged, it can be connected to each of the 3 lights and power them all night. To make them even better, each light has about 15 feet of electrical chord that connects it to the battery so you can put lights all throughout each house. The kids now have one light bulb in almost every room and they provide plenty of light for the houses.
So I arrived back to the house at about noon after successfully accomplishing something for what seemed to be the first time in a while. When I arrived, the mechanic was trying to get the truck started but he was not sure what was wrong with it yet. I decided to send Lener and his helper to make one more trip for beds in the black truck prior to the kids coming home which means, at 1:00pm that Friday, this was our situation:
- 3 out of 15 beds at the houses
- No water at the boys’ home
- 2 broken down trucks
- 27 kids at home ready to get their new schedules started
It was not an ideal situation!
This is where things began to get both better and worse at the same time. It was better because Gina, Jeff, and the house moms stepped up in a huge way! They completely took control of how they knew I wanted the schedule to be and they had our kids in gear immediately. Right after that, Andre got the Ford truck to start so I sent Lener in the black truck to get the rest of the beds so I could take the Ford truck back to Hope Rising. He and his friends went to work immediately. I also followed up with the plumbers and they were still on schedule to arrive and get water flowing back at the house. So I hopped in the Ford to take it back to Hope Rising. This was about a 15 minute trip…usually.
About 3 minutes into the drive, the Ford stopped working again. The battery died and it would not turn over. Luckily, the mechanic was in the car with me so he got it going again and we went another 2 minutes so I could drop him back off at his job. When I dropped him off, the car stopped again. He got it going and told me, “Kouri vit” or “go quickly” because he knew it was going to probably break down again…It did. Luckily, one of my friends was right there on his moto and he went to pick Andre up again to get the truck the rest of the way. This time, he could not get it started and I was stuck about 1 mile away from my destination with no way to get the car going again. At this point, the 15 minute drive had already turned into 1.5 hours and I was just hoping things at the houses were ok without me. At the same time, I was really starting to get pretty annoyed, overwhelmed, irritated, and probably a lot of other emotions that I did not fully understand at the time. The problem is that the truck had broken down in the middle of the community and it had turned into quite the show. In fact, there were people everywhere surrounding the truck, talking, playing, telling jokes, and just in general really annoying me. At least 10 people told me that I had probably ran out of gas like that was not something Andre would have figured out hours ago. In fact, I am pretty sure if one more person had asked me if I needed gas I would have either said or done something that I would have regretted. It was one of those situations where my annoying day had turned into 30 other people’s fun for the day and it was not a good combination!
After a while, my friend on the moto found someone (Sauveir with those of you who are familiar with Christianville) who could tie the Ford to the back of his truck and towed me the rest of the way to Hope Rising. So I climbed in the truck and steered it back as Sauveir pulled me along. 2.5 hours after leaving, I had finally reached my destination. It was now 4:00 and I did not have a ride back to the houses. Luckily my friend Kris, who was staying at Hope Rising also, saw me being towed back in and gave me a ride back to the kids. I was really glad I did not have to walk!
When I arrived, the first thing I heard was Lener say, in broken English, “There is a problem…No water.” This was not what I was hoping to hear when I first pulled up. I started talking to the plumbers to find out if they could fix it and they said that they could not without a new pump and then informed me that all of the places that sold what they needed were closed for the day. I did not know what to do at this point, I just asked them to please try to fix it temporarily and then I had a meeting with the kids to tell them what they were allowed to do and not to do during their free time every day at 4:30. After the meeting, the house moms and kids immediately went outside to play, and I went in to check on the beds…They were all there, this was another thing that we could finally check off the list.
After the meeting I came back to talk to the plumbers one more time to see what we needed to do and to find out if they had figured out how to fix the problem. When I walked up, they were looking very pleased with themselves and they informed me that they fixed the problem! They told me that they did not even need the part they thought they needed because one of them had done something that I did not understand (partly because they were speaking very quickly in Creole and partly because I don’t understand plumbing in English either) that fixed the problem permanently. That was the last thing to check off the list. It seemed like the day was ending on a high note, so I went outside to play with the kids for a while before it got dark.
When I got out to where they were, they were all just standing around. I asked them what they were doing and they told me that the field near the house was not good to play on because it was not theirs and because it had “sticky” things that got in their feet. I showed them another field and they told me it was too small and there was barbed wire around it that would destroy the soccer balls. Honestly I’m not sure if it was my fatigue kicking in, I don’t even know if they were complaining or trying to problem solve, but I got pretty angry. I was about to let them have it, but I called Jess first to make sure I was reading the situation right. She told me that I should get onto them if they were complaining, but she could not say if they were complaining because she was not there. So I went back to find them to let them have it…
What I found was much different than what I left. The kids had found the perfect place to play! There is a little field right outside the back wall of our house where the community plays soccer and hangs out. We all walked over there together (we had to jump over a creek and climb a wall first, but that was ok) and, for the first time in a while, they were a part of a community. They were playing soccer, riding their bikes, and talking to the kids who lived there. Misthafa and Gueline had some girl right in the middle of them, holding her hand, and telling everyone she was their “bon zanmi” or “good friend.” A lot of the kids kept pointing to people and telling me that they went to school with them. Woodly and Kervinson joined the soccer game. Basically it was a great ending to a VERY VERY difficult day. I think it was GOD just letting me know that things were going to work out just fine.