by Vi Isaac My recent visit to Haiti was a great experience and I’ve been reliving much of it as I dream at night and when I answer friends’ questions [“Artist supporting children in Haiti,” October 27].
I loved Powell River before this trip but my appreciation has magnified exponentially. Fresh air enveloped me when I exited the plane. There were no smoldering garbage dumps near any of the streets, and nobody was shovelling debris along the gutters to aid the flow of mucky water.
What a pleasure to drive on Powell River streets. Never again will I complain about their condition. No broken bridges force traffic to jolt over rocks or through gullies, and to ford the river and traverse potholes as big as a house. We don’t need to wait for release of aid funding from other countries in order to clear rubble blocking half of the narrow streets through some of the busiest areas of the city.
If, for any reason, our buildings get seriously damaged, they would probably not be waiting in that broken state a year later. If miserable conditions faced us daily, I wonder if we would have the fortitude to carry on, to bring goods for sale to congested market streets or to set up in any tiny space and still greet visitors and neighbours with a cheerful bonjour or bonsoir.
How many of us would walk for three or four hours to attend a monthly gathering on Sunday morning and return at night by way of the same goat trail to a shack in the mountains? The one pretty dress or handsome suit you own must be carried with you. You stop and bathe in the river and change into your finery before you arrive at the service.
We don’t bring aid to mountain people but if we did, our vehicles would not bounce along river beds, the usual route obliterated by the rushing waters of a recent hurricane. Along the river we don’t see people bathing and doing laundry. No, the Haitians aren’t actually washing clothes in the dirty river but in clean clear springs near the river. Laundry is spread on rocks to sun-bleach and dry. Everything will be neatly folded and stacked in a gigantic basket to be carried back home up the mountain trails. How? On your head. It is much easier that way. Do I appreciate my washer and drier now?
In the mobile that I call home I suddenly feel like a princess in a palace surrounded by a clutter of “stuff.”
Vi Isaac is a local artist. She sponsors children in Haiti through Heart to Heart, a Canadian registered charity. Late November she made her first trip to Haiti.