Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I've never been asked to be a godmother before...

But a few days ago I was asked by some dear friends in southern Haïti to be the godmother of their little daughter Doreen.

This is Jean-Admas Dier, his wife Anaise, and their daughter Doreen. Maestro Dier lives near Les Cayes, a city on the southern coast of Haïti which 500 years ago was founded by buccaneers and the Real Pirates of the Caribbean... but I'm straying from my topic. Maestro Dier was one of the regulars at the music camp where I taught piano lessons and played accompaniment for the camp choir.

Three years ago when I was last in country, he and Anaise had just gotten married. Over the years we have traded e-mails -- I from my laptop, he from a little internet "cafe" a short walk from his house.

Actually, I've been in that exact cafe. It's a small building made of the ubiquitous cinderblock that everything in Haïti's made of, a tidy tile floor, and a couple of tables with a few computers. It's absolutely amazing what one can find in some seriously remote places of the world! You paid the owner a few gourdes (the name of the Haïtian currency, not an inedible squash) and you sat down for an hour and hoped the electricity and phone connection kept working until you were done.

It was hot, as it always is there, but there were a few fans stirring the sultry air around. I found it strangely pleasant, the leisurely and uncertain pace of quiet village life. Definitely a change of pace from America's bustle and bluster. I had thought that the heat and humidity would bother me, but I became accustomed to it very quickly. I didn't feel compelled to wear makeup, nor was hairstyling a profitable venture -- decorative bandannas became my daily hair-do, which kept me cool and dry and composed.

The people of Haïti are the real source of joy for me. The culture is fascinating, the people charming. My friends in Port-au-Prince and in the south are precious souls with whom I wish I could spend more time. The economic situation and the lack of stability in the country is a source of grief for me, because I know it prevents my friends from making progress or attaining goals they most certainly could achieve here in the US. Educational opportunities, job opportunities... are all difficult if not impossible to stumble upon. Adequate medical care is nonexistent.

And yet they continue on, these precious people.

The other day, when I received a new e-mail from Maestro Dier, he asked me if I would agree to be Doreen's godmother. I felt so humbled and touched by this gesture. I am unable to give them any extra support, since it is impossible to send anything to them by mail, but I will print out their photo and pray for them daily, and pray that God will see fit to let me go back again someday soon.

I miss Haïti. Can you tell?

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