Debouche and My Last Night in Les Anglais

Trip Start Jan 29, 2009
Trip End Feb 08, 2009

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

We woke up and ate breakfast and jumped right into doing household interviews. We had to get more done today because we didn't get as many done yesterday. Etienne wanted to take a few of the engineers and another one of our volunteers to see some of his small test gardens in the area. As a result, Joseph translated for us today and we were able to do the interviews faster which was good considering that we had to do 1 1/2 times the amount to meet our goal of 50. Etienne was great but he is a local and everybody knew him and has his cell phone number. He was constantly getting approached or called for something that somebody needed. He takes care of a lot of people. He actually has a family and a house in another town but spends most of his week around Les Anglais and the surrounding areas helping the local people. I couldn't get over how generous he was. 

Today we did interviews in the central city of Les Anglais. The kids still seemed to be very scared of us. We walked up to one house and the kid saw us coming so he immediately started sprinting the other way. His grandma was mad and started running through the bushes after him screaming. We sat and waited for about 8 minutes and the grandma came back with the kid in hand. He was crying and didn't want to have anything to do with us. We started interviewing her and he slowly calmed down until I tried to measure him at the end and then the screaming started even louder in my right ear. We were able to slowly get the measurements after attracting the whole neighborhood to see what all of the fuss was about. It was funny because around the whole area, you never heard any kids crying until we showed up!! We learned that the grandma thought she was around 65-70 years old and she was taking care of four young children. We never learned what happened to the mother. This wasn't uncommon to see the grandma taking care of the grandkids. Some of the mothers had gone to Port Au Prince (I am guessing for work and to be in the city). They come back to visit every once in a while.  It was very rare to see anyone over the age of 62 years old because the lifespan is so much shorter in Haiti. I think this may have been one of the oldest people we came across during our visit. See the picture attached of her wearing a handkerchief on her head. She was beautiful even after taking care of all those kids!

After a few more interviews, one kid came up to me and just stared into my eyes for a while and he made a motion to touch my arm. I put my arm over toward him and he began rubbing my skin while continuing to stare into my eyes. It was a powerful moment. One of the hardest parts of the trip, is that when we walked around town, some people would look at you from the front of their house and pat their bellies without saying a word. It was so hard not to pay attention to them or even give them some food. The nice part was that they would look at you and if you didn't respond then they would stop and we were rarely approached for food the whole week.  That was amazing to me because of all the places I have traveled and have had people beg for food, this people were probably the most in need but I hardly got approached by anyone. The kids would ask for things but I think it was more of a game than anything. A few of them would say "give me one dollar" but I don't think they really even knew what they were asking. We finished the interviews in town and concluded that the people seemed healthier, had more latrines, had access to clean water from a well in town, and were visited more consistently by the health agent probably because they were closer to the clinic and lived centrally to town.

That afternoon, we went just a short walk north to an area called Debouche to do five more interviews. We learned that many of the people didn't walk to town even though its a short distance to get water from the well because of the long lines and fighting that goes on. Remember, there are two wells, one of which doesn't get used because of reports of it tasting weird, serving 20-30,000 people. Instead, they walk over to the river and drink that water, which isn't good. 

The engineers were up working on the water system repairs all day and partly into the night. We met for dinner at our house and they reported that they were able to fix the pipe coming out of the reservoir which was great news. Tomorrow they will be  digging some trenches to try and find several blockages in the system. Until they find and unblock the pipes, the water will not be able to flow into town. Last night, Laurent and Junior had to drive back a few hours to Les Caiyes to get some more parts in order to fix this area of the pipe and they didn't get back until 1 a.m.

Grace and Carolyn were able to take GPS points of the entire water system along with elevations so they could measure the flow of the water. They estimated it to be around 120 gallons per minute at the upper part of the system. I think that is accurate...I don't know a lot about this stuff so I am learning.   

After finishing the  interviews and eating a light dinner, we drove up to a point to see the  sunset. Amazing!! This is our last night in Les Anglais before we leave for Port Salut tomorrow afternoon. I am beginning to get sad thinking about leaving this area and all of these people we have grown to know. We spent the rest of the evening watching the stars. I was exhausted at this point so I didn't last long before I was in bed.

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lauraumthun on

Incredible journey, incredible. MOM

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