Last Friday I left the house to visit Bianka. We are so blessed to have found a wonderful local hospital for our kids, right here in Leogane! Now we don’t have to drive into Port Au Prince when we need to have our kids seen by a doctor. When Bianka had to go back to the hospital I was so relieved to know that I could just hop on a motorcycle and go see her. I can even visit more than once a day if I want to.
Friday, I set off on the 5 minute ride, Madame Jeanel decided to come with me. As we approached the main road I could hear music getting louder but I didn’t think much of it. Madame Jeanel made a comment that people were getting excited about the upcoming election but when I asked if we should keep going she said yes, it was “no big deal.”
For the first few yards there was nothing different but as we approached one of the side streets I was shocked to see hundreds of people pouring out directly in front of us, and then behind us. In a matter of seconds we were surrounded. Music blared as people in green and yellow danced and shouted all around us. They carried horns, drums and giant boom boxes. Barefooted street children dashed among them clapping and singing along. For a second my heart leapt into my throat, I looked back at Madame Jeanel who was unfazed by the entire thing. She wasn’t worried so I guess that was that. Our taxi was at at an almost standstill. The mob was moving faster than we were as our driver tried to weave in and out of the crowd. The people passing never gave me a second glance, they were so caught up in their songs and dance. As we continued along I caught the attention of a few of the smaller groups. Many of them smiled and waved. Some asked me why I wasn’t dancing with them. A few even drew me into conversation, as I answered them in their native language and bantered back and forth about the candidates there was an easygoing air. This “rioting mob” as they would be reported was nothing of the such. They were a group of citizens who were clinging to a bit of hope that something might be better than what they have now. They cheered for Jude Celestien and yet when they asked me who I supported and I answered someone else, there was no anger. They did not shout or yell or threaten me. Instead they laughed over my use of a common nickname. They assured me that yes, he too would be a good choice.
As we passed a UN base and I looked up to see the camouflaged soldiers, behind barbed wire fences I wondered what they were thinking about this group. I wondered how they would relay this event to whomever it is they answer to. Few of the Haitians even took notice of them, some sneered and a couple shouted insults and demands to “leave before you kill us all”. Overall they were too caught up in their celebrations to pay attention to much else.
As we reached the turn to enter the hospital I was both relieved and a bit disappointed to not be following this group anymore. I waved goodbye to a few children who had walked next to me and went to see Bianka. She looked wonderful! She would live and within days someone would be elected who holds much of her future in his decisions. Oh how I pray they will take this job seriously.
It has now been almost a week since the election and we still don’t know who that person is. We continue to wait but as I do and as the news comes in I pray that you will take into consideration this account. I was not in Port Au Prince, I certainly can not report for every group who has marched the streets but I can tell you that on this day, in this crowd there was hope, not hate. I did not set out to put myself into that position and I will surely continue to be cautious when it is necessary but I believe that I was given a gift in sharing that moment with the people whom it is quite possibly a matter of life and death.
I am so thankful that my parents are not the worrying kind. They recognize this is the life I need, despite the unease it sometimes brings. I know with confidence that they love me living my passion. They have sat at home and watched my world unfold on television, through hurricanes, earthquakes and disease they have let me stay. They understand that it would be far more dangerous to me to be kept from Haiti than for me to be here in the midst of these things. Even still I can imagine that it is not easy for them to be at home and reading this, there have to be some what ifs that plague. Mom and Dad, thank you, for letting me be here and not worry about you, worrying about me.