Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Village Visit (part II) by Esther Krul

It’s nine o’clock Saturday morning and Will and Jayden have just arrived at Pastor Caleb’s house in Pignon. After a quick breakfast, Will, Jayden, a friend named Joe, and I are off to the market.

The bumpy roads quickly remind me that ‘this is Haiti’. After a ten minute drive we’re at the market and ready to buy the food for the food distribution this afternoon. Stepping out of the vehicle, the sound of a thousand peoples’ voices mingling with the sticky air overwhelms me.

Horses, donkeys, ducks, and chickens are all over the place and we need to watch where we step. Pushing through the masses of people I see vendors everywhere selling fruits, vegetables, rice, pastas and many other types of food; some which I don’t recognize.

It doesn’t take long before the crowd around us thickens as ‘blan’ in the market isn’t an everyday occurrence. Other then the curious stares, people are friendly and we smile back at them. Since the bulk of our money is for purchasing rice and beans we decide to do that first.

Joe, who is Haitian, can get a better price if he’s not seen with us, so Will counts out the correct amount of money and we separate from him. Ten minutes later, Joe returns with a huge sack of rice, and later another huge sack of beans. We load it into the vehicle, lock it and then go on the lookout for bouillon cubes (a popular Haitian seasoning), garlic cloves, juice powder packages, and treats for the children.

Rather than buying from the bigger vendors, Will decides to help some of the smaller ones and goes around making purchases all over the place. Speaking Creole, she jokes and laughs with the sellers before purchasing anything since relationships are very important in the bargaining process.

As we go from vendor to vendor we pass the meat department and I cringe. Dead animal parts lie on tables covered with flies.

Boiling pots of animal intestines fill the air with their unsavory scent.

By one table, chickens run around franticly trying to escape their death sentence. Cute little gloats bleat in horror at the thought of their imminent demise. Right then and there I decide to look no further.

Squelching my queasiness, we continue purchasing everything we need. Some vendors, not realizing how well Will can understand and speak Creole, try to overcharge us, but she quickly wins them over with her easy smile and kind words.

An hour later, with a very complaining Jayden in tow, who by now is hot, irritable, thirsty, and tired of people touching his skin and staring, we make our way back to the vehicle. Driving back to Pastor Caleb’s house I wipe the sweat from my face. That was quite the experience!

Back at the house, Will and I quickly get to work dividing the rice and beans into separate bags and adding the garlic and bullion.

When we are finished we sit back and take a rest.

“What a morning!” We say to each other.

At 1:00 p.m. Jason flies in and after a delicious lunch of rice and beans and fresh mango we load all the food into the vehicle and head to the camp for the distribution.

As we drive up to ‘Can De Le Gras,’ where Jason, Will and Jayden lived for three months for language and cultural study, we hear children signing.

I smile; it feels good to be here in Pignon, and it feels good be able to help the people here. I hop out of the car and the coolness of the air feels refreshing. I peer up into the sky and see threatening dark clouds surrounding the village. Just then the first rain drops begin to fall. We quickly unload the food, coloring books, and crayons and run under the gazebo for shelter from the falling rain.

Under the gazebo are two large tables. Sitting around the tables on chairs are about 50 children, half boys and half girls. Under the direction of John, a Haitian friend of Will and Jason’s, each child sits quietly waiting for the distribution to begin.

Before we start, they sing a few more Haitian hymns for us and it’s really special to listen too. Then one by one, in exemplary fashion they come up to collect their coloring book, crayons and crackers. “Merci” they thank me politely and after finding out how to say ‘you’re welcome’ I respond with a cheerful “Pa dekwa”.

As I hand out the items I study the children. Even with their clean faces and cute hairdos, I can see their poverty in their threadbare clothes and tattered shoes. Even the little hair bows can’t hide the orange tinge of malnutrition in some of the girls’ hair.

When we’ve finished handing out the coloring books, crayons and crackers we hand out bags of food to each child.

One child impulsively hugs me as I give her the food and my heart breaks. To be so thankful just to be able to take home food for her family; we really don’t have any idea what that is like. Blinking back tears I continue handing out the food. What a privilege it is to be able to help these children and their families in this way.


  1. Thanks for the heart warming account of your experience in Pignon. You touched their hearts with your kindness.

  2. Yes... you did.... and now we are glad you are home!

  3. What a wonderful way to spend your summer! We're thankful you had this opportunity, and we're sure you'll be forever blessed by this experience. "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."

  4. You look radiant Will...I love your passion for life and your passion for the Haitians!