In Haiti, if you want to get anything serious done, talk to the ladies. (Those aren’t my words…they’re Manis’!)
The women in Haiti are the backbone of the family. They hold society together. They take care of business.
Their lives are desperately hard, but they show incredible strength and resilience. Unfortunately, they are also all too often exploited and under-valued.
When Chelle and Megan came to the Plateau in April, part of their heart was to focus on the women in our community and to show them their value. They did this in many ways, including hanging out in the school kitchen with the cooks.
Of course, one of the main things they came to do was to hold a couple seminars on basic hygiene and first aid with the ladies. During the first session, the women engaged in a few activities involving various scenarios on cards. They got really into it, and there was lots of discussion and laughter.
Afterwards, the ladies had an opportunity to share their traditional remedies to various first-aid and health problems, such as fevers, burns, and vomiting. Traditionally, this very often includes medicinal teas.
Some of the quieter ladies didn’t say much. Judy got them to come out of their shells with a little song and dance.
Afterwards, Chelle, Megan, and Rachel served the women by washing and exfoliating their feet. They gave them a nail care package to take home, as well.
Once their own feet were done, a few of the ladies began helping to wash feet too.
For the second session, Chelle and Megan affirmed the common health solutions offered by the ladies, and volunteered some of their own suggestions as well. They also enlisted Rachel, who is a community health nurse, to present on the importance of handwashing.
To follow up on that, Samuel–having been instructed by Chelle and Megan–demonstrated how to build what is called a “Tippy-Tap.”
A “Tippy-Tap,” is a contraption made out of materials that should be readily available around a home on the Plateau, and is a convenient way to wash your hands using minimal water.
Rachel then returned to demonstrate how to best care for burns…
…as well as what to do when someone is choking (if you couldn’t tell from the photograph).
The ladies had fun learning how to do this one.
Each lady also received a few useful items for personal hygiene, as well as these pretty bags. I told them they looked like a flower garden!
Finally, any woman who wanted one was able to get a very basic physical exam.
The week following Chelle and Megan’s visit, SuAnne and Geri from Wisconsin held a third session with the women, focusing more on anxiety and mental health.
In these bags were little items, each with a Scriptural truth attached. In the picture above, the ladies are looking into a small mirror, and are being reminded from Psalm 139:14-15 that God made them beautiful.
SuAnne and Geri shared several scriptures with the women about God’s care for them, encouraged them to first put their trust in God, and then taught them a deep-breathing technique that they can use when they are stressed or anxious or having trouble sleeping.
Life on the Plateau is always hard, but it has been particularly so the past couple months. The water situation is growing really desperate, and all our local sources cannot keep up with the demand. It is a joy and a privilege to be able to reach out to these women, sharing with them the love of Christ for them and offering them a short time when they can come together, laugh, and momentarily forget the burdens at home.