I have had abundant time over the past 3 weeks to reread it myself. The other day I came across a passage that really resonated with me in relation to Haiti's current condition.
It's in the latter part of the book as the barricades are going up in a few neighborhoods across Paris. Marius' revolutionary friends have chosen an ideal spot to take their stand right outside a tavern owned by one Mother Hucheloup, who herself has been complaining about the current government after being fined outrageously for shaking a rug into the street and for allowing a flower pot to drop to the sidewalk from an upper window.
Now the young men, in taking their stand against this repressive government, are stripping her business of tables and chairs to heap upon their makeshift barricade, and she stands by horrified.
When she objects to this destruction of her livelihood, the men respond, "Well, Mother Hucheloup, we are avenging you."
Hugo concludes his commentary on her plight this way:
Mother Hucheloup, in this reparation which they were making her, did not seem to understand her advantage very well. She was satisfied after the manner of that Arab woman who, having received a blow from her husband, went to complain to her father, crying for vengeance and saying: "Father, you owe my husband affront for affront." The father asked: "Upon which cheek did you receive the blow?" "Upon the left cheek." The father struck the right cheek, and said: "Now you are satisfied. Go and tell your husband that he has struck my daughter, but that I have struck his wife."
The average Haitian these days can relate to Mother Hucheloup.
We have been out of school for 3 consecutive weeks now. Some fuel came into town yesterday, but it is unclear whether it will be enough to ease the civil unrest. MAYBE we will be able to go back to school on Monday. In the meantime, the upper grades have been conducting lessons on Google Classrooms, but not all students have internet. Even our internet service at home has been more Off than On these past couple of days. (The towers require fuel to continue to operate!)
The whole country is still on edge and leaders are starting to throw around phrases like "coup d'état" and "civil war". We don't know if the coming week will bring a cooling trend or intensified heat. Forces in opposition to the president are intent on pushing this country to the breaking point. I don't know if they will succeed, but IF THEY DO, there could be widespread chaos. AND it will come without warning.
And so Melissa and I agonized last weekend over what to do with Hannah, Samuel and Sarah. We are not in danger, but we are all stir crazy and feeling helpless. We had already planned to send Samuel and Hannah back to Indiana mid-October for ACT/PSAT testing and college visits, but Melissa could not bring herself to actually book any tickets: If an evacuation was ordered in the meantime, we would be left holding a bill for useless airline tickets.
Meanwhile, Melissa was scheduled to leave last Tuesday for a conference on school accreditation held in Panama City, Panama. (She's gone right now until tomorrow afternoon.) It occurred to us that with school on hold indefinitely, with more reliable internet in Indiana, and with all the uncertainty on the ground here, that it might be wise to send the kids early, flying out with Melissa last Tuesday as she made the first leg of her trip through Miami. (Sarah wasn't originally scheduled to go to Indiana in October, but she was more than happy to tag along with her older siblings with this revised plan.)
I'm sure some folks might criticize us for this move, but the grandmas, at least, are unanimous in proclaiming this "a very wise move". The plan is for Melissa to join them for a week or so later in October in order to participate in college visits (and to see Caleb, whom we are missing terribly). And then, God willing, life is back to "normal" here by late October and they can all return.
- Melissa has had a fantastic and useful few days at the conference - great information and a much needed change of pace.
- We were able to gather today
- While Melissa and the kids are
- Caleb drove from Wabash College yesterday to celebrate Samuel's 16th birthday with him and Hannah and Sarah and other family and friends. Even though Melissa and I couldn't be there, Samuel undoubtedly had a memorable birthday.
- People here on the hillside and other teachers seem to be relatively healthy at the moment. I am unaware of any new cases of dengue fever over the past week or so. We pray it has played itself out for now!
- We are really hoping that we will be able to have class on Monday. Even if we only get a day or two in, it would be incredibly helpful to touch base with all the students. Of course, our hope is that Monday would be the first day of a return to regular classes. We hear, though, that many of the local Haitian schools are not yet planning to hold classes this week. (Most Haitian schools have not even had a chance to start their new school year! The demonstrations were intentionally planned for the start day of school. Fortunately, we launched in mid-August and so we had several weeks under our belt by the time protests interrupted our calendar.)
- Fuel came to Cap-Haitien yesterday, resulting in enormous lines in which people waited 4, 6, and even 12 hours for a few gallons. But most stations were empty again today. There are rumors (SO MANY RUMORS RIGHT NOW!) that more fuel is coming soon. Sometimes the fuel comes into Port-au-Prince but then the tankers are hindered by barricades and threats of violence from making the 6 hour trip north to us.
- The economy has taken a serious hit with all the unrest. I read the other day that the inflation rate is officially 19%. Undoubtedly, many parents will be struggling to make tuition. And if tuition falls off, the school's ability to pay the staff might be called into question. Please pray for God's provision and guidance in these difficult circumstances.
Thanks, as always, for your prayers and support. Remember, if you would like to support our work in Haiti financially, the best place to start is our TeachBeyond Page.