River reflections

We left the bumpy track we had been travelling along for half an hour and turned out onto the riverbed, and began to drive up the river. The water was fairly shallow to begin with but definitely got deeper as we continued our journey. We rattled over the rocky riverbed and splashed through the water, passing others bathing, washing clothes, and herding their donkeys or cow up the river. This was not a diversion to enjoy some off-road driving, but the only form of access to these remote communities.

We arrived to meet with the communities, attracting attention from local kids as we met with some of the community members. It is strange how much curiosity our presence provokes. On another occasion the kids were fascinated by my skin colour, particularly how it changed colour when they poked my arm or leg. I had to prise away some little fingertips to avoid getting bruises!

The discussion with the community was lively and vibrant as always, with passionate participation and often heated exchanges to get their voices heard. Spending time with Haitians is teaching me more and more about their struggles, but also their joys, as they live lives beset by unpredictable storms and other events, they have learnt to be resilient, but also to fight ardently to survive. A Haitian colleague said to me last week ‘Haiti can change, I know I can be part of that change, but in a fragile country, it is preserving life that comes first’.

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