An important factor of living here (for me) is making a decision daily to not become so consumed with tasks that I become oblivious to needs or suffering around me. It is easy to take on so many different projects that you can miss simple things that make a big difference in someones life. This past week I finished up some plumbing loose ends at the school and instead of tackling more plumbing woes I decided to be more intentional with friends and the relationships I have with the kids in Jubilee. You should see the look on the kids face when you follow up the question “where do you live?” with “Take me there!” My creole is still rusty but the expressions on their face are unmistakable- “What!? You want to go to my house and see where I live!?”
Rumour on the street was that one of the teenagers (Wiesgeur) in Jubilee who is a friend of ours had broken his leg in two spots earlier in the week. I went over to visit with him- shamefully it took him having to break his leg for me to hang out with him in his home. After a short visit I was quickly reminded how different it is to break your leg while living in a place like Jubilee than in a place like our home town in Canada. Wiesgeur doesn’t have a nice comfortable couch to rest on and an Xbox 360 to play while he takes medications every four hours to ease the pain. He wasn’t given crutches when he left the hospital or they were unaffordable if they were for sale. He didn’t have friends that could bring him his homework everyday in a neat envelope with a nice note from his teacher followed with a smiley face.
He was just laying in the doorway of his home on the floor wearing a cast from his toes to his hip, watching the kids play in the street day in and day out unable to join in. It sucks breaking your leg here. We talked about a few things while I was there- He didn’t talk about how much his leg hurt, how bored he was, or that he wished he could play with his friends. He mentioned that he had missed many classes this week and wouldn’t be able to go to school on Monday morning because he didn’t have crutches. He talked about his hopes for crutches, but he didn’t know where he could get them, and then he worried about not being able to cross the small bridge that spans over a 9 foot canal, connecting his house to the rest of the world. These are not things that a child should be worrying about, but it’s Haiti, and it sucks breaking your leg in a place like this.
By having an open schedule I found myself in an immediate position to offer some assistance. I assured him that he would not only have crutches, but he would be able to cross the canal by monday morning so he could go to school.
After a couple hours of labour between Rusty and I yesterday, we created the mother of all bridges made with true Haitian 2×4’s and Haitian Mango hard wood used for the planks. We were also able to modify adult crutches found in our pharmacy to accommodate our shorter friend and we were able to install the bridge today. The scariest part of the installation was carrying the new bridge (which weighed over 150 LBS) across the old bridge. Fortunately the old bridge held on for a few last seconds while Rusty crossed safely.