You only need to cross the border to know you’re in a different world. The first impression of the country is not unlike the Mad Max movies, or more recently, The Book of Eli. In other words, there is a feeling of anarchy, of the world of the book of Judges, where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Men and women, boys and girls, wander the streets without purpose. Trash is everywhere. And laundry is done at the polluted river side (see the photo from part 1). Roving trucks with U.N. are all over. Many Haitians are none too pleased with the United Nations – it was U.N. soldiers from Nepal that introduced deadly cholera into the country. The Nepalese soldiers were kicked out. The cholera stayed.
It took us another hour to get to Phaeton – thankfully the main road had been paved since the earthquake, the work of the European Union – but our driver and host John prepared us as we turned onto the dirt road that led to Phaeton and only to Phaeton, “It’s going to get bumpy.”
Three New Friends
Abruptly he pulled over. There were three Haitians on the side of the road hoping for a ride to the village, and John, always on the lookout for a way to help or share the gospel, stopped to do just that. As we drove along, with Schera translating, we found out that Haitian children from Phaeton who want a high school education must walk – this still seems unbelievable to me – 4 hours each way to school…every day. These three (mom, dad, and daughter) whom we picked up had made the long trek to the main road earlier in the day to sell some sort of wares and buy rice. It had been possible to make the trip out from the village, but carrying the heavy load of rice made the trip home nearly impossible without transport. So they sat by the side of the road and hoped for someone like John to come along.
“Hoping for someone to come along” – that’s life as a Haitian, it seems – a world full of “strangers on the side of the road” dependent on the good Samaritan who will stop to bandage their wounds, pay for the inn and take care any future bills. But what if the good Samaritan walks on another road?
After a 15 minute drive, we arrived in the village. Phaeton is a sea-side village that had one day been “thriving” because a group from the U.S. set up a factory here to make rope out of a local plant called sisal, but the invention of nylon rope had eventually driven them out of business. Now, the people of Phaeton had one industry: fishing. We dropped off our hitchhikers, and headed to the home and hospitality of Pastor Lucner…
To be continued…