Friday, May 14, 2010
Two Friday’s ago Nazareth and Rose revealed indispensable information regarding the lack of food in Kay Pob. Mme. Lisette notified the day before that she would not be preparing food because there was none. Zaloa and I shared this with Nazareth and Rose who informed us that Pere Nehemiah, next door, was responsible for the money donated for Kay Pob by a twin parish from Michigan. Without vacillation Zaloa and I headed over to Pere Nehemiah’s house to find a means to feed the people in Kay Pob. We formed a great team, Zaloa defends herself better than I do in Kreyol and I dominate French better than Zaloa; God’s granted me the gift of diplomacy that balanced Zaloa’s gift of directness. Pere Nehemiah welcomed us and we sat, Zaloa in front of Pere Nehemiah, and me, in the middle to his left. Zaloa began with her passionate explanation about the lack of attention in numerous ways to Kay Pob, explaining that at this moment our focus was their stomachs and that “li foc mange yodia,” “they must eat today.” Pere Nehemiah agreed, adding that he had no money to help. We listened and, with Rose’s story of Calloway a few nights before, I described how it would be lovely if Jean Rabel felt ownership for Kay Pob and if the food would come out of the community as a whole, not from the outside or a few. He went on to tell us details about the committee that gathers every Sunday at 3:30pm to organize Kay Pob’s necessities. We told him we’d go as well.
Zaloa stepped in saying, “Yes, we know about the committee, but they need food today. We would like to know where the money donated from Michigan is, in order to use some of it for them because they will go hungry.” Pere Nehemiah, taken aback, looked at me and started speaking French. I went translating for Zaloa. “I have not seen the money you speak of, “ he announced. Zaloa, annoyed and determined, invited him to see Kay Pob, if he does not smell, touch, see, and hear the reality it is hard for him to be moved to act. We said our goodbyes and left. While bartering a bag full of fried balls of dough in the street to calm the bellies in Kay Pob at least a little, Nazareth and Rose came marching up the street, commanding us to follow them. We balanced our way up the five uneven, steep stairs, stepping around the men who rested on them and read the letters painted on the wall, the mayor’s office. The mayor seemed to have taken the day off, but luckily Stefan, his right hand man, sat among the men we weaved through to arrive. Nazareth and Rose introduced us and then proceeded to tell Stefan about the food, or lack of, in Kay Pob. Stefan without allowing his eyes to meet ours and occasionally nodding hello to passer-bys said, “I will go with you and see.” Zaloa, Stefan, and I exchanged a few words as we walked through the dust of Ru Jon Baptis towards our beloveds in Kay Pob. Before turning left up the hill, Stefan, while on the phone, beckoned us to follow him.
We arrived to a two story pink building; we felt our way up the dim staircase finding a little office to our right. There, a young lady sat at a desk with four men relaxed in chairs around the bureau. As soon as we were seen, the men straightened up, two of them excusing themselves as the lady and one of the two men remaining stood confidently. Hands extended, names interchanged and eyes gazed upon us. Neither one of us knowing why we were lead to this office, we turned to see the sign that read National Project of Scholastic Canteens, our explanation followed. They listened, concerned and went on to explain that the organization only distributed food to schools, but that if they saw any opportunity to distribute food to Kay Pob, they would do so. One man stood up, opened a cabinet and started counting money to donate. Zaloa stopped him saying, “No, no, we did not come here for donations.” “But to see how the community at large could look after Kay Pob on a regular basis,” I injected. They smiled and nodded and took out a paper. The man who had said nothing to us directly so far, stood up and said, “Let’s go.” “To Kay Pob?” I asked surprised. “Yes,” and he followed. By the time we finished stumbling down the dim stair case a request for him to go somewhere else came. He turned to us, lifting and pointing to the empty report in his hand, “I will go.”
Zaloa, Stefan, and I returned to our original quest climbing the hill to Kay Pob. Pushing the brick colored gate open, and turning the corner instead of having a gust of urine-filled air, we smelt food. Kay Pob was full of movement, as we never had seen before. Mme. Lissette, the cook stirred a pot of soup with carrots and potatoes, food our eyes never had seen served before. Spectators crawled everywhere. Joy and anger danced in me, neither one taking the lead. There was food, yes. Lisanne, Tiffany, David, Walter, Tyler, Fabio, Samara, Junior, and Alex had food, Alleluia! Ask and you shall receive. At the same time, was this an act, was this all in order to shut us up and make a show. We asked Mme. Lissette and she said simply, “Pere Nehemiah.” We looked at Stefan and saw the spectators and the attention he was receiving. Stefan saw action, smelled food, and heard laughter; as soon as he leaves, the spectators would be gone, they would still need food tomorrow and the laughter gone (with the occasional exceptions). I decided to stay in the present, “Luisely, there’s no need in that, be with them now.”
That Friday was our day for exercise. We distributed the balls of fried dough in order to give them a bit of calories to move their arms and legs up and down with our stretches. The commotion from the spectators and our visitor filtered our voices and attention was difficult to attain. Walter stood right next to me in order to hear all my instructions, while Tyler focused on trying to make the three paralyzed limbs follow the instructions given with his one functioning arm. Overwhelmed by the action and number of people, Tiffany rolled up in her petit chair and rocked herself back and forth. Others complained and others laughed. Stefan stood up, checked on the food and said his goodbyes. The spectators trickled away little by little. After tending to all of them, I stepped into the opaque room Samara, Lisanne, David, and Tiffany share. A group of women surrounded Samara’s skeletal body, Zaloa looked up to me and extended her hand. We held hands and began to pray. Zaloa, not one to pray, held Samara’s hand while tears strolled down her face.
Two weeks have passed since that Friday and each day the people have been fed. Kay Pob is changing. Mme. Lissette’s manor with the people is gentler; caresses are exchanged with gazes of love. The committee gathered enough money to buy soap to wash the clothes. The clothes waits for us clean and dry on Mondays when we bath them. This Monday Samara allowed us to cut her nails, a first, Zaloa cut, while I caressed her and sang to her. This past Wednesday we saw her eat a few spoonfuls of rice, another first for us. (Before Samara survived off of the Tampicos Zaloa buys her. She drinks about a quarter liter of the fruit punch per day.) This Wednesday Pere Nehemiah met us at Kay Pob and visited with the people for at least a half hour.
Hope. Little by little. Maybe next week we no longer have to carry the water up the hill, maybe our cries will be heard and the inactive cistern will be fixed.