Fall 2015 Update from Haiti
“Be humble. Sing loudly. Live for today. Call an old friend. Give hugs. Be curious. Take a chance. Hold hands. Make a new friend. Push fear aside. Take pictures. Smell the flowers. Don’t stop. Smile at a stranger. Embrace. Choose happiness.”
– Sign on a hotel post
Many of you may know that Tim and I have moved to a new apartment and with that move we have been learning a new community. At first we were not certain about finding our way easily in the neighborhood’s many “ins and outs,” while at the same time grappling with all the traffic and congestion. Thankfully, we are gradually learning more roads and even some quicker routes.
A newly-learned shortcut now allows us to get to a nearby community called Petion-Ville, named after one of Haiti’s founding leaders, Alexandre Petion, more quickly but in some ways we miss our old route. It involved traveling on a 2-lane road in an area of heavy pedestrian traffic and an extremely busy open-air market. Trucks bringing produce and countless sundries park randomly on the road and sidewalks along with a wide assortment of vehicles belonging to potential shoppers.
As we traversed this busy maze we saw sinewy men stepping into the streets and pushing dilapidated wheelbarrows filled with any and all kinds of products up one of Haiti’s mountainous inclines while sweat poured down their bodies. Women with large plastic containers on top of their heads and filled with various goods gracefully navigated potholes, uneven walkways and small motorbikes called “motos” which perilously weave in and out of traffic.
The predominantly female vendors or “machann” are literally lined up side-by-side on the sidewalks forcing interested buyers to walk in the street. Wearing wide-brimmed straw hats that hide their faces and protect against the sun some of the women sit on blankets on the ground while others rest on little homemade woven rattan chairs as they sell their various “what-nots.” Thankfully, traffic is slow in this avenue of local commerce and allows the market women to bring goods to our vehicle if we express an interest in tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, beans, rice, wheat, corn, bananas, avocados, mangoes, pineapples, plantain….
One’s senses are assailed with the smells of countless types of spices and produce; the heat of the day’s sun; the roar of continual traffic; the salty taste of quickly bought plantain chips; and the lively ride in our truck as we bounce over battered roads. Nonetheless there is an energizing flow of life going on amidst the hubbub as people call out to passing friends, laugh over a shared joke, conduct transactions and keep an eye out for one another.
As we came to the end of this spirited marketplace, we were able to see little mountains of fresh cabbage that are used for a local favorite called “pikliz;” it is a favorite that makes us think of spicy, pickled coleslaw. We could also see countless burlap bags filled with corn or “mais” as it is called locally that Haitians use to make an interesting breakfast drink called “akasan.”*
There is so much about life that can be learned from living in another culture and Tim and I have discovered that even in the midst of hardship, life abounds here in Haiti. We believe the vibrancy of the market area is a microcosm of the strength, both physical and mental, of this nation’s people as they meet each new day head on. It is their strong sense of self and nation that revitalizes us and generates a boatload of smiles on both ends.
- for the people of Haiti as they prepare for the October 25 presidential elections
- for rain as many farmers face complete losses in the country’s 2-year drought
- for our partner CONASPEH as the new school year has begun
- for the House of Hope as they celebrate on November 17, 2015 a new building added to their facility through a Global Ministries grant
- for Tim and Diane as we seek to serve faithfully in this nation
Recipe for Akasan*
2 cinnamon sticks
4 to 6 anise stars
1 c. very fine yellow corn flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 – 12 oz. cans evaporated milk
Sugar to taste
Lime zest (optional)
1 c. whole milk
If desired, ginger to taste*
Nutmeg to taste
1 T. butter
Over medium heat, boil 3-4 cups of water with cinnamon sticks, anise stars, lime zest, salt and a spoonful of sugar.
Dilute corn flour in 1 cup of cold milk
Turn flame down to low and slowly pour liquefied corn flour into boiling water while stirring
Stir CONSTANTLY until it thickens
Continue to stir and add can of evaporated milk, butter, ginger*, nutmeg, vanilla extract and sugar.
Serve cold or warm.
Tim and Diane Fonderlin serve with the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH). Their appointment is supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, Our Churches Wider Mission, Disciples Mission Fund and your special gifts.