Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A loving home

At the moment we don’t have water since the water pump broke again. Every day I establish new records in using minimum amounts of water to shower. When I wash I try to collect used water by means of a little bucket which I use to flush my toilet. Those are the things I think about before my workday begins. Next, we need to find a driver to bring us to a supermarket that accepts cards. It is complicated and risky to withdraw cash, so I only have 35 Gourdes (less than a US Dollar) with me. We want get some shopping done while the situation is still calm. This week, most of our international colleagues will be leaving for christmas. Election results of the second vote count are being announced and protests and riots are likely to resume once more.

Small businesses pop up everywhere among the ruins. Photo: Sophie Preisch
 Right now things are calm on the streets of Haiti’s capital. Everything seems peaceful. On every corner people are selling goods: fruits, phone credits, sugar cane, snacks, chicken, plants, vintage clothes and shoes, scrap metal, wheels and even medicine. On a dusty road with enough potholes to force us down to 12km/h, we pass a house where wedding dresses are sold. Two dresses hang in protective plastic covers beside the door, inside someone is sewing another one. Everything is makeshift. Soft kompa-sounds, palm trees and bright hibiscus blossoms contrast starkly with dust, stones and the chaotic traffic. Christian slogans are written on taptaps (colourful pic-ups used as public transport), walls and signs. Industrious small businesses indicate that not everything was destroyed in the earthquake while huge tent cities and sweating people repairing ruins by hand, one stone at a time, show how much was.
Transportation, or rather the lack thereof, is a constant issue marked by chaos, roadblocks and fuel shortages. Photo: Sophie Preisch

We pass a police car with its emergency lights on to the right and then a taptap to the left. On the next corner four boys run up to our car and start cleaning the windscreen. The supermarket in Delmas, quite a big area of Port-au-Prince, is about an hour away. Our driver tells us that he lives near by, but that it still takes him about two hours every morning to get to work and then about three hours every evening to get back. The public transport system is complicated and often it is entirely blocked by demonstrations or turmoils.

When we get to the supermarket, we buy some crayons and craft supplies for the children with donations from friends and family. It is a small christmas gift we want to give every one of them at the end of this eventful year.

While the children in the SOS Children's Village are safe, many families have to protect their scarce posessions from looters. Photo: Sophie Preisch
 Once we're done with our shopping we drive back to the SOS Children’s Village Santo. The 19 family houses were constructed in 1985 for a total of 190 children. This year 327 children are spending christmas here, and 73 more in the temporary shelters. For our SOS Mothers it is an incredible effort to care for more than 20 instead of 10 children. One mother says, "when you only have 10 children everything is easy. Food is always enough and when you clean the house it actually is clean afterwards. But with almost 30 you clean and it gets dirty again in the same instant. This was a hard year for us, but it was for everyone in our country".

At this point we want to express our deep appreciation for those women - SOS mothers and SOS aunties - for giving a loving home to our children, regardless of continuing difficult circumstances and an unpredictable situation in the country.