Sometimes I walk outside, after a busy day in the clinic. I breathe deeply as I walk onto our front porch or into our yard or onto the road and in those places I feel the richness of my life in Haiti. So many different people gather there to work and talk; to play and pass some time with us.
It is Jason's job to keep people out but more and more the circle of who comes in the gate grows into the beat and rhythms of our day to day life
On this Saturday afternoon, the Gardner's son plays soccer with the other boys in the neighborhood, shooting balls into the chicken yard causing them to run and shriek and fly over the bamboo and wire fence. Then Mylove and her daughter come to show me her new school uniform because she is starting school on Monday. So then everyone must run and chase the chickens and get them pack in the pen. The soccer ball ( a gift from a former student ) lands in the chicken yard again and so the chase begins all over again.
A woman in labor walks by moaning softly. leaning on her sister and a friend. Relatives bring food to a mother who has already given birth and another mother prepares to go home with her baby in her arms.
In the back yard they are telling stories as they wash clothes and stir beans for dinner. I say that if you come and help withe the work, you can always join us for a meal and most often the Gardener and her daughter are there and the baby who sits in a wash tub and peers out into her world.
Next door, a strong man with a limp tends his land. Most often there is a cow grazing there and new crops to plant or harvest but these days he is making charcoal under large wooden piles of branches. It fills our lungs with smoke and we complain but know he is working so hard for his bag of charcoal to cook his own meals or sell in the market. He guards his land with piles of prickly plants. He comes early and I enjoy watching him out my window as the seasons and their crops pass before my eyes.
Dafka, the baby who was so hungry and who lost her mother, comes in the arms of her father to be weighed and to get new formula. I fill the older children with fresh fruit and piles of art supplies. A volunteer changes her and puts her in new clothes as we photograph her progress and talk to the Dad about a micro loan so he can keep his family together.
I have carried a great deal of grief with me this week as I thought about the death of MyLove's little girl. I know it was only last Saturday and that it is normal that I should still and perhaps forever feel the sad aftershocks of this preventable loss. Inside I am all tender and raw and so it is good to go outside and to watch all the people I have met and to celebrate the goodness of my neighborhood; how they help one another and enjoy their life.
I know everyone well enough to know the burdens and sorrows each one carries but here we all are with the gate opened just enough to let a good measure of love and friendship in even when it would be just as easy to keep it shut. Or to build it too high for a ball to make its way over.