What a day! When Jeff was delivering water in Cite Soleil last year, a woman approached him and pleaded with him as he lifted buckets onto the head of women and children coming for water. This is not unusual as people ask for help at every stop. Jeff had no idea what this women wanted as she only spoke kreole and Jeff new little, he just new her plea was different. She kept pointing at her scarred legs and those of her children hanging onto her skirt. As she tugged over and over at his shirt, Jeff finally decided to get one of our workers to interpret for him. He was told that she and her children cut their legs when going up and down a steel staircase to their home that was rusted out. Jeff followed her to her house, the second story of a concrete housing project that had built years ago. He could not believe what he saw. The staircase was in complete disrepair. Most steps were rusted out and only partially there and quite a few were actually missing. She then showed him how she had to climb the stair, carrying her 45# bucket of water. He knew he had to do something.
Last December, I met this woman while we were preparing to distribute food in Cite Soleil. She was older, so nice, and helped me with the food packing for the next three hours. Towards the end, she inquired when we were going to fix to her steps. Jeff and I discussed it and told her we would fix them when we came back in March.
Well, this was the day. Over the last three months, we've raised funds to purchase a Miller welder generator, steel, rebar and concrete. Our friend Kevin McClellan did all the frame building, cement work and installation and Healing Haiti provided all the supplies. He loaded up the steel and generator onto the front of our Bobcat and drove it into Cite Soleil.
I hope the photos show you there were no steps left... 2 stories of rusted metal... kids and elderly have been climbing this to get into their house. It was incredible to see. USAID had built this housing project years ago and no one has done the maintenance that is desperately needed.
Quite a crowd of onlookers hung out, mostly children. I felt bad for this little kid who must have had a tooth ache. He had a hankerchief wrapped around his head. Mud rubbed on his scalp..but what was most impressive was his shoes!
The kids really enjoyed doing the itsy bitsy spider with Jeff. The video will show you these cute adorable kids and why I had this crazy idea....
So if you watched the video you've seen how cute and sweet these kids are...and why I had this idea. I knew better... and Jeff told me no way... but I just wanted to try this. We went to the market and bought 120 packages of cheese puffs to hand out to these kids. Since they did the itsy bitsy spider so well, it seemed like it was a manageable number of kids. I thought they would be willing to stand in line for a bag of cheese puffs and because I had bought 120 bags, we would have enough for everyone.
Well, I'm just calling it "The Cheese Puff Riot." Once it was known that we had these bags to give out, chaos broke out...it was not a pretty site...kids trampling other kids, adults taking bags away from little kids...grabbing, pushing, pulling. It was bad judgment on my part... I just didn't want to believe it.
We have no photos of the riot because we were all trying to get control of the situation. Cite Soleil is a desperate place and these kids are not only starving for food, but also for something that is their own, something new in a package, something that brings excitement to their day and because of their extreme poverty, sharing, and understanding 1 per person isn't part of their survival mode.
We ended the day in Titanyen, Haiti at the our property for Grace Village to measure and mark the area for the future projects we will be building. It is amazing how wrung out we feel at the end of each day... both physically but also mentally. Life is very hard in Haiti.