Today’s blog post is simply a description of a normal day for us at All Things New. I want to give you a little bit of insight into what we do on a day-to-day basis, and while no 2 days look the same, you can at least get an idea of some of the things we do. So here is our past Wednesday from my (Matt) perspective…
Jess wakes up at around 5 each morning and then wakes me up at around 5:30. We need to leave our house at about 5:40 to make sure that we get to All Things New before the kids start breakfast and to make sure everything is running smoothly there. We walked out of the door at around 5:40, I stopped by the generator room here at Christianville and turned it on so that the campus would have power to start the day. After that, I got back in the white truck and Jess followed me in the black truck as we proceeded to drive the 3 miles up to the orphanage on dirt/rock roads. Recently something was installed underground (some type of pipe) so there is a new hole we have to watch out for as we are driving or we will destroy our trucks!
We arrived at the orphanage at 6:10 and made sure all the kids were ready and we lined them up for breakfast at 6:15. Today there were many kids who were not ready for school and were not there for breakfast on time, and this is a consistent issue. Really, how could it not be with 34 children living in the same place and not enough adults there to help. So, because of this, we setup a punishment/reward system for when kids are there on time. Usually, if they are not there, they do not receive their points for the day, or if they are there we may bring them a Tampico or a coke later at dinner. On this particular day, I had a new idea. There is a little shop right next to the orphanage (that I am pretty sure opened specifically for us) where they sell crackers, cookies, hot sauce, etc. and my idea was to give the 18 children who were there on time 20 gourdes (about 40 cents) to spend at the shop when we got home from school that day. When we got there, the youngest children quickly decided on a Blow Pop which seemed about right. However, every kid 2nd grade and older made what I thought was a very strange choice…Almost every child chose a small can of sweetened milk. I found this very strange at first, but then I realized they don’t get to drink milk that much. However, about an hour later all of the kids were going crazy. They were bouncing off the walls, singing, jumping around, and we couldn’t figure out why. Until we realized how much sugar was in those little cans of milk (they are made to be combined with 20 fl. oz of water) and that our kids were just not used to that much sugar and they couldn’t handle it. It was hilarious and we realized that maybe that wasn’t the best idea to load the children up with sugar right before beginning their homework.
Anyway, back to the story, the kids who were there came in quietly (as is their new routine) and sat down for a breakfast of Corn Flakes and eggs. This particular morning ran very smoothly and we were able to leave the orphanage at 6:40 with Marjorie and Lener (click here to learn more about our employees) washing the dishes for the children. In the mornings, Jess and I take turns having the girls ride with us one week and the boys the next, and for this particular week I have the girls. That means that an older girl rides in the front with Somala in her lap, the 3 first grade girls ride in the back seat with one other girl (usually Michelda), and the other 7 girls pile in the back of the truck. We turn on some music in the truck and the first graders, most of the time, sing at the top of their lungs. We arrive at school safely, walk all of them into the gate and then Jess and I leave.
Today, we have breakfast in the dining hall and are prepared for our first meeting of the day with another organization starting at 7:15. After breakfast and that meeting end, I call Lener and tell him I need him to ride in with me to Leogane because I need to recharge our Internet stick. Since we are going into Leogane anyway, we decide to go on into the market to buy fruit for our children. So we make the 15 minute drive into Leogane with tap-taps weaving in and out of traffic, and arrive at Natcom where we add internet in record time (it took only about 7 minutes). I run into a friend of mine at Natcom and setup a meeting for the following week and then head over to the market.
I cannot adequately describe the outdoor market in Leogane, you cannot understand what it is like until you go for the first time. But we park our car and we start to walk through in search of bananas, oranges, and a trash can. These are easy things to find, but it is not easy for a tall person to navigate the market. The tarps that are set up to protect the merchandise were setup for people who are 5’9 and shorter, and I just do not fit that description. I am trying to keep up with Lener as we make our way around, and then we get to the fruit section. It is here that I ask Lener if I should hang back so that the merchants do not give him the “Blan price” which just means that they raise the price when they see Americans come. He says, “No, stay, GOD will not want them to raise the price like that.” I cannot argue with that logic, so I stay with him as he shops.
About 5 minutes into our shopping, Lener is pretty upset. He cannot figure out why nobody is giving him the price that he usually gets, and he cannot understand why they are trying to charge more just because I am American. It’s about this time that I see another friend of mine, and he immediately tells me that it would have been better if I had stayed in the car because I will not get the same price that Haitians do. I had to laugh at that. Anyway, we paid the slightly higher prices (it cost us about $2 American more than it would have otherwise) and then we left the market and headed back to the house.
By the time we arrive back at the house, it is time for lunch and then after lunch we head back up to the orphanage. Each day, we arrive at the orphanage at 1:30, let the children change clothes, give them a snack, and then have them do chores. While they are doing this, our tutors arrive at 2:00, and from 2-5 we have our kids studying and getting ready for the next day. During this time, Jess teaches an english lesson to all of the children, our tutors work helping with homework, Giselle washes clothes by hand, Lener and Marjorie come to cook, and I try to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing (Jess does this too in between lessons, and I play with the little kids a lot during this time too). At 5:00, we line the kids back up to eat and then Jess and I leave to come back home.
On Wednesday nights Jess has a women’s Bible study that she goes to at a nearby organization called “Reach Global,” and after we eat dinner she heads out with one of her friends here on campus. While she is there, I talk to my parents on facetime and then try to teach myself how to play the guitar (which is not very easy for me since I have no musical ability) until it is time for her to come back home. When she gets home, we brush our teeth and get ready for bed usually around 9:00 so we can get our rest for the next day.
I know I missed a lot of small details and I could have talked more about some things than others, but in general this is what our days look like. We try to get organizational things done in the mornings, we are with the kids in the afternoon, and then we spend the nights doing other things. It is a busy but a great life down here and we just wanted to give you a little insight into what we do.