Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas cookies under palm trees

"I'm wishing for peace", says Delva. "And a good president", adds Clorene, while Antoinette carefully braids her hair. "I just hope the city will be safe again. That you can leave the house without having to worry", answers Julianne. The SOS Aunties do not desire any material things for christmas. What they want is that life in Haiti improves. For all of them it is the first christmas they spend inside the SOS Children’s Village. They care for children in the temporary shelters that were set up on the grounds of the SOS Children’s Village Santo after the earthquake. "We will decorate our houses and the whole area, then we will cook and eat together", says Clorene. "I hope we can get some gifts for the children. They like toys and educational games. It is their first christmas in SOS Children’s Villages, all of the kids in the shelters came here after the earthquake".

SOS aunties from the temporary shelters discuss Christmas plans and Haitian politics - Photo: Sophie Preisch

The international team of SOS co-workers is also preparing for christmas. For many this means packing their suitcases and heading home to their families and friends. For others it just means to find a way to participate in Haitian christmas: exchanging stories and traditions, learning and teaching. And: baking cookies. First, we managed to get to the supermarket, which was difficult enough after last week’s turmoils on the streets. We bought ingredients very much like what we would put into cookies at home. Then we started preparing the cookies. At nine o'clock there was a blackout - usually we have electricity until ten o'clock in the evening. For the next three hours we were cooking in the lights of candles and mobile phones. It was raining cats and dogs while we mixed salted nuts with butter, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. The result is delicious, you top it with peanut butter and chocolate. And on Christmas eve we will hopefully find out what traditional Haitian sweets are.

SOS mother Louianne with nine of her 20(!) children. This Christmas also marks her first year as an SOS mother - Photo: Sophie Preisch

Eating is an important part of christmas celebrations all over the world, and the SOS Children’s Village Santo is no exception. "Each group of houses will celebrate together. Everyone will prepare and then share their food. The children will dance and sing... and we will celebrate all day long, both on the 24th and 25th of December", says Louianne, SOS Mother in Santo. This christmas is also her fist anniversary as an SOS Mother. Looking back at this year she says: "In December of last year the former mother of this SOS house retired. I lived here with eight children. The peace of christmas lasted exactly until 11 January", she says with a sad laugh. Louianne still keeps her humour in spite everything that happened after the earthquake. "At one point we had 29 children living in this house. But that was not all: some SOS youth community houses were destroyed as well, so four of the teenagers also came back to live here. And then it was three SOS Aunties and me", she says laughing. Now Louianne lives with 20 children in the house. Her wishes for the upcoming year: "That my children stay healthy and that we can go on living here."

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