- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: June 15 2012 June 15 2012
A small group of people started the morning by visiting the store at the Women's Center, “Haitian Creations.” Heartline sells the craft items that the women in the programs there have created. A full thirty percent goes back to the artist. You can purchase purses, beads, coffee and other items at www.HaitianCreations.com.
We had the privilege of attending this morning's graduation of the women who received their training at the Women's Center. Eighty women earned their diplomas today!
The ceremony was pretty neat. The women sang some songs as a group. A few sang solos. There were skits; there were dances. A number of people spoke. Each of the women received a diploma. There was a full-on fashion show. All in Creole (the official language of Haiti; a variation of French).
This is a lot of activity to fit into what we were warned would be a three-hour event. Actually, about two hours more. A bit long for those of us who don't speak the language (on last count, all of us), but the women, their families and their friends were clearly having a joyous day, and seeing that was well worth it.
And, my, did those ladies sing! That's been something we've noticed all week, from Sunday's drive past churches on the way through town to working alongside Haitians doing their day-to-day work: whatever their circumstances, these people love to sing.
After the graduation, Pierre, our Hiatian-native driver for the day, tried to get our big white truck out of the church's tiny parking lot. P's an awfully good-natured guy, though, and kept getting distracted by the attendees of the graduation ceremony who were hoping to ride with us to the bottom of the hill.
In Haiti, there aren't really yellow-doored taxis. They do have a lot of tiny pickups customized with handmade, hand-painted toppers over the bed. The drivers crisscross town with loads of people in the back. When you ride, you let the driver know that someone's ready to get on or off by rapping on the roof. So the vehicles are called tap-taps.
For a brief moment, we played tap-tap for a number of Haitians. We got a full load of people at the church and started down the hill. How many people? Well, John answered two questions about tap-taps early this week:
- Q: Where are all the people going? A: No one knows.
- Q: How many people can fit in a tap-tap? A: One more.
We're not sure how many folks we had on board, but Sammi thinks she counted twenty people and a baby. Delivering them went pretty well, though P did have to get out and scold Tom for tap-tapping a little too loudly the first time.
Tin Pan Alley
One of the many crafts for which Haitians are known is tin work. They can mold old barrels and other found materials into some amazing art. The whole crew went down to a particular back alley where there is store after store selling tin art.
Now, when we say “store,” we mean a small room in an otherwise broken down concrete building. But when we say “selling,” we really mean selling! They eagerly invite you into their space, know exactly what pieces you're looking at and are always ready to strike a deal.
Supposedly, the first price they offer is about double what they feel is the item's worth. This is bartering, though, and just the first step of a process that involves counter-offers, threats, cajoling and tears. Whatever the price, you're going home with a beautiful piece of Haitian art, and they're taking home a wad of dollars.
After the day's adventures we stopped briefly at the guest house and then headed over to a hotel by the airport for dinner. Heartline bought a ton of pizza for all of us. The highlight of the night, though, was the air-conditioned room in which we ate. Wow, that felt good! The TVs were showing a ballgame, the bar was open and the pool was available to those who thought to bring a suit. What a night!
That's It—For Now!
Please keep watching this blog. We'll get photos collected and posted soon. But that's the end of our regular evening posts. We head home tomorrow!
Saint John's members (and anyone else who can make it): we're hoping to give a presentation about our trip between the services some Sunday in July. Maybe the fifteenth? More details here (and in the bulletin) when we get that figured out!
For now, though, we think it's about time we let Tom out from behind the computer. He's been blogging this whole week, and we think he should have at least a moment to see some of Haiti before we go!
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself”, active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?