When my friend first suggested that each of us ‘needs a break,’ I blew him off. He’s right – as he usually is – but each of us has so many things to do that effect so many people. Still, the more he talked about it, the more I felt like it would be good for each of us in his own way. We are both fly fishermen and his plan is to fish the Colorado River in Marble Canyon south of Lake Powell. Two days after he suggested the adventure, I said, “Okay, but I’m doing this for you.” The next day, I conceded, “I’m doing this for me!” Although the weather remains chilly in the northern mountains and the canyon country we’ll fish, we’re looking forward to this much-needed adventure. I’ll be armed with my camera and fly rod.
Because our work in Haiti intensifies, I wanted to post an update before we head into the wilderness for three days…
When you are thirsty, what do you do? The obvious answer – you get a drink. Most of us go to our 25+ cu ft refrigerator and retrieve a pre-packaged cold drink, maybe a can of soda, a bottle of water, juice; some of us might use the refrigerator’s ice and water dispenser. Fewer would actually get a glass from the cupboard and get our drink from the faucet in our kitchen sink. What if you don’t have a refrigerator? What if you don’t have running water in your kitchen? What if you don’t have a kitchen? What then? What would you do if you are thirsty?
The situation came up as we opened the Barefoot School last week when one of the children timidly asked, “Teacher, I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink of water?” Alas, the building has no electricity and no running water, a situation characteristic of this, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The child’s question was legitimate and alerted us to a situation we had not considered. The children need clean, potable water.
“Teacher, I’m thirsty.”
Our school manager wasted little time and immediately secured three, 5-gallon buckets with spouts. They are now on-site. During breaks, the children are able to quench their thirst with a cup of clean water.
Each bucket costs $1 to fill from a water vendor. We fill three buckets each day, so the cost of water is approximately $100/month. That number will increase as our student population continues to grow.
And Still They Come
When do we say, “No more children?” The question is gaining relevancy as we move through our second week at the Barefoot School. Any doubts that the service we provide would be received with little enthusiasm disappeared after that first day when only 17 children attended. Since day one, the number of students we serve approaches 200, well beyond the 100 we originally had planned for.
These Haitian children are eager to learn and look forward to their time at the Barefoot School, a time that is becoming the highlight of their fragile lives. How can you tell a child who wants to learn that ‘there is no room at the inn?’
I will be searching for answers in the solitude of the river. As Norman McLean wrote,
“Eventually, all things merge into one and a river runs through it.”
Our Barefoot School needs your help. If you would like to join us, please use this contact form to reach out with your questions, comments, and suggestions. We’ll respond when we return from the river.