Friday, September 10, 2010


Haiti’s presidential elections are set to take place on Nov. 29th. Among the candidates are a former political prisoner and Prime Minister under Aristide, a female professor and former first lady, and a popular compa singer called ‘Sweet Micky.’ The refusal of Wyclef Jean as a candidate is all the buzz. He even composed a special song explaining why he’s not the ‘diaspora’ candidate that plays on the radio every third song. Everyone has an opinion and the general feeling that I get from people I meet is that they are not going to miss their chance to vote in this election.
Here's a link to Wyclef's new song:

I made a new friend this week. His name is William and he is ten years old and I met him when he followed me to work on Monday and asked me to marry him. When I politely declined, he thought a minute before saying, ‘Madam, what if I told you I could buy you any model of Mercedes Benz you want?’

William marches along with a bouncy step and his chin raised. He’s a great security escort. If anyone on the street tries to bug me, he dismisses them with a wave or transmits the evil eye. People smile at his nerve and they also leave me alone. When he meets his buddies in the road, he shakes their hands like a rapper turned politician and asks how their families are doing. This kid is clearly leadership material.

Today we struck a deal. He’ll provide protection on my commute each morning and I’ll pay him our agreed upon amount at the end of each week. If he misses a day without a good excuse, he won’t get anything that week. For further compensation, I’ll continue teaching him words in English. At this point his vocabulary consists mostly of four letter words.

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding when people tell me their names. I’m almost always obliged to ask how the name is written. It seems that must be a universal affliction as people call me all kinds of crazy things that sound somewhat similar to Angela. Two of my favorite new names so far are ‘angina’ and ‘enema’. Who knew my name resembles so many unpleasant medical terms.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This first week in Haiti has passed faster than a turtle on a skateboard. I've been caught in a very un- stereotypically Caribbean whirlwind of bustling activity. There has been a lot of work for me to do and more than anything I think I have appreciated feeling useful.

I finally unpacked my suitcases last night. My apartment is inside the walled enclosure of St. Jacques Church in Petion Ville - a short walk from the Diocesan office. The music school, St. Trinity, now resides there. For those of you who have spent a summer in Sewanee, TN during the Summer Music Festival, you can imagine the mostly delicious cacophony of classical sounds that I enjoy every day. Another perk is that there is a piano right outside my room for me to mess around with anytime I feel the urge.

Over the course of the past week, I've slept in Les Cayes, Cange, and Port au Prince. In Les Cayes, I translated for two terrific techies, Todd and Tony, as they worked with Business and Technology Institute technician, Denis, to prepare the computer lab there for the coming semester. Learning some much needed computer skills was a positive byproduct for me. From Les Cayes, I traveled with the Partnership Program director to the Diocesan Conference on Reconstruction in Cange. Renowned economist, Kesner Pharel, spoke to the group of 20 influential leaders within the church about dreaming big and planning precisely. My job was to take minutes in English.

One of my favorite moments from the past week:

A friend of mine, Amorce Dugé, recently purchased land which he will transform into a haven for artists of all sorts. Every year he hopes to facilitate a month long festival featuring different mediums each week. The artists will stay economically in 16 bungalows arranged around a pool and a large workshop space. Dugé himself writes novels and poetry. One early morning we scooted out to his land to dream about possibilities.