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One More Month to One Full Year

Since December has arrived, I’ve been hard-pressed to write. Writing doesn’t come easy to me, although the first posts that I wrote on Coming in Third were a breeze. During orientation, there was a saying that went along the lines of “When you live in another country for a month, you could write a book on it. For a year, you could write a chapter. Five years, a page.” The amount of time in the quote might have been different but the lesson rings true. When I first got here, everything was so new and amazing! I was also in such a loving and welcoming atmosphere at my language school that there was so much I wanted to share.

Josier helping out at Maison Bon Samaritain!

In one of my first posts, I likened myself to a child. Compared to what I’ve learned now, I understood nothing and knew nothing. I had no experience, I couldn’t talk or understand people, and I could write about those frustrations with a light heart because everything was new and intriguing. My curiosity and sense of adventure was stoked and my creativity burned.

The GwoMòn MKLM community welcomed me with excitement and open arms after 8 weeks of language school and here was a toddling toddler, taking her first steps into a larger world. Stumbling, I learned about the finer details of life in Haiti. No longer secluded in a school in a small and gentle community, the world bustled just a little bit more, just a little bit more intimidating.

Taking me gently by the hand, Abby and Sami showed me this new world. They showed me Grepin and the agricultural center, the school in Fon Ibo and the henhouse in Kampech. I went to Buchan Richard and Gonaives. I met a bunch of people and eventually, slowly, started getting to know them. My tutor Lamaj helped me more with the language that I just couldn’t always seem to hear. There were ups and downs, like everything, but overall it was good.

Ms. Sabine, a nurse at MBS, helping out with a project. She's doing great!

Work began and I started settling into a routine. I walked to Grepin and worked there in the morning and came back. There wasn’t much in the afternoons yet so I did housework and my tutor came. Then COVID-19 hit and after a week in the house, we went back out again, although a little cautious. Easter passed with barely a whisper. The catcalls during my daily jaunts grew annoying but I grew a skin thick enough to match. Sewing masks became a daily activity and filled a little bit more of my time in the afternoon. I also took a few lessons in driving a moto.

July came and went. I went to the beach for the first time and had a mini-vacation for Independence Day. We came back and the routine resumed. Alex from Jacmel started living with us and I started using Kreyòl more in the house. I started going to Maison Bon Samaritain three times a week and played games and chatted with some of the residents there. A little project was started which is still ongoing. One day I’ll put it all down in detail. My language skills grew more confident and I stopped bringing up my frustration with the language, although I still miss things at times.

Party at Tiden's with the residents of MBS! Food is coming shortly... it's in that car...

School started, took a break, and then started again. COVID, while there were still signs about it and people mentioning it occasionally, stepped out of the limelight without a thought. Abby’s birthday swung around and we went to the beach again. It was even better the second time. Thanksgiving came around there was a really nice get-together with the RJM sisters and some friends. It was a feast!

Now, on December 19th, I’m going home for Christmas! I wasn’t ready to spend a Christmas away from my family this year, no matter how small it will be. Hopefully I will be able to see friends too. It’s funny since my mom says that she’s not worried about me bringing corona home but rather me bringing it back to Haiti. So when I get back in January I plan to take another week to make sure I don’t have any symptoms. Next Christmas and New Year’s, I plan on staying and celebrate with my new friends here. But for now, I’m ready to see my family even if it’s in the context of this pandemic that I have yet to truly experience.

Rosilia and Souveur coloring to exchange drawings with students in Lekòl Jezi Mari

So my life here has become a routine. There are things that happen every day that help me learn and grow every day, but just like school or a job, it’s not that I have to write home about every little thing. Back in language school, I wrote about noises on the roof and the Protestant church at night, now it’s sounds of the occasional large truck passing or a drunk guy singing at 2 AM (on a recent Saturday night, some people were playing music so loudly that I couldn’t fall asleep until they stopped at 1:50 AM… apparently someone called the police thank goodness… I had to wake up at 5:15 for church!).

It’s a routine, and short of venting the frustrations that come from daily life, it’s difficult to always find a topic on Haiti to talk about.

That said, this is the THIRD time I started writing this post. The ones that I started I’ll use another time… like Easter for one and an unknown date for another.

So, I wish you all Happy Holidays, a safe season, and blessings for you all as we draw closer to a New Year. May God bless you all. They say hindsight is 20/20, so let’s leave that behind in 2021.

Happy Our Lady of Guadalupe! Bon Fèt! Doesn't the OLG church look nice?

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Dec 13, 2020

Hi Mr. Hannahan! Thank you so much for your support. It’s so nice to hear from you! I’ll have to listen to that podcast. While I’m sure Papa and Baby Doc’s legacies still remain, I do not know the specifics of it. There are of course people who are still around from that time and if you find them and talk with them, they have such amazing stories! I know people who would secretly meet up with people at a certain time in a certain place for trade-offs and information. If one of them was two minutes late, the other would have to leave or risk being caught. There was some true espionage happening then! The founders of the Na…


Mark Hannahan
Mark Hannahan
Dec 13, 2020

Jill, glad you are able to come home and see your family this Christmas! Love reading about your work and experience in Haiti...and admire what you are doing there.

I just finished a podcast...Real Dictators...about Papa Doc and his impact there..and maybe even yet today?...on Haiti’s people and you hear much about him, or his son, and their murderous reign?


Drew Foster
Drew Foster
Dec 13, 2020

We are very much looking forward to seeing you at Christmas. As we’ve talked a really big change is that you seem to have turned the corner on the language and you’re finding it easier to communicate. See you next week!!!!

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