By Kenneth Hendrata, team member
There is a certain ingenuity that comes with adversity. Just as in many developing countries, the lights go out without warning in Haiti, and for an unannounced length of time as well. I noticed car batteries strung together to provide electricity to the house, but then I thought, “Hmm, won’t they need to change those quite frequently?” When the light went out one night, Pastor Ralph’s niece came along and turned a switch in the living room labeled “INV” for inverter. Our interpreter, Peterson, explained that it inverts DC to AC, and it dawned on me that they charged those batteries when the power is on. Of course! Ingenious!
I also asked a question in this rural church in Guiotte about whether they get cell phone reception there (the answer is yes) and Diane followed up with how they can charge them. One person came out with a live wire with 2 ends (no jacks) and somehow they are able to use that to charge cell phone. Amazing.
We need to wake up around 6:30 am every day because we have 2 bathrooms for 10 people to get ready before 7:30 a.m. when breakfast is served. I never needed an alarm clock. Every morning, we are greeted with a chorus of roosters (there must have been one every other house), followed by sporadic beats of dog barks.
Food at Pastor Ralph’s household is a unique experience. You simply cannot find Haitian food this authentic in Pittsburgh. Johanne, Pastor Ralph’s wife, cooks us different kind of Haitian food for every meal. Even her spaghetti and sausage and meat lasagna were amazing.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a traffic light in Haiti. Traffic is done by negotiating who goes first, like when we merge two lanes in the U.S. Normally, we let a car from the other lane go in front of us, then we get in from our lane, followed by another car from the other land, then our lane, then so on. In Haiti, this is true for intersections, similar to our stop signs in the U.S., but no stopping.
Trash in Haiti can sometimes heap to the side of the road along with construction materials. Because of that, the ideal place to drive is in the center of the road – not the center of the lane, the center of the road. Of course, the driver will have to share the center of the road with the opposing traffic, so driving can feel like a constant “Mexican standoff”, with cars swerving at the last second along your journey. It feels terrifying at first, especially for those with large Mack trucks, but you will get used to it.
Life goes on just like in any other place in the world. You will have to face some adversity and you may rise above it or just have to accept it, but sooner or later you will have to just move on with life and make the best of it.
WPA Commission on Archives and History