Daily Chores in Haiti

Life can be difficult in Haiti, especially when it comes to doing chores. In a country where it can be hard to find clean water or soap, the people here have done an amazing job; making their own brooms, stoves, and public wells. I’d like to show you some other things these remarkable people have done to survive here in Haiti.

Cooking in Haiti is one of the most important chores, yet also one of the most difficult. Not many people have gas stoves and ovens, and anyway, there’s no Walmart in order to buy propane. So what do they use for stoves? The most common substitute is a charcoal fire. Perhaps a little slower than a gas stove, but it works! Just the other day, our housekeeper made us a delicious lunch of boiled plantains and fried sausage and a very good sauce. She did the whole thing outside on a charcoal fire!

An outdoor kitchen in Haiti

Laundry is another thing that is both very important but very difficult in Haiti. It’s pretty fascinating to watch the ladies do it. They usually have two or three big tubs, a bar of lye soap, and water from the nearest pump. They rinse the clothes, then scrub them all over until there’s more suds than water. I asked them once how long you had to scrub each piece of clothing. They responded, “Until you go all the way around.” So… I guess you have to keep track, or something? After wringing out the garment, they rinse it, then wash it again. This is followed by another rinse, and then hanging the clothes out on a clothes line. This process generally takes most of the day, and the clothes have to be left out all night to dry, and are usually collected around noon the following day. It’s a pretty big job, but it’s always done with love!

Doing laundry outside in Haiti

A smaller chore here in Haiti that must be done is sweeping. The roads are dusty or muddy, and welcome mats don’t seem to exist here, so a broom is essential. To buy a good broom, you could walk for a few days to the nearest store… or, you could just make one! So, most of the brooms here are handmade. Some of these brooms actually surprise me by how well they work. Most of them are made out of grasses, twine, or sticks. There is no such thing as a dustpan here, so the dirt gets swept out the door.

A Haitian Broom

Most people don’t have running water in their homes, so they carry water in jugs from the nearest well. This is usually the job of the children. Sadly, many elderly who live alone must cary their own water, sometimes for a few miles. Haiti180 mission teams sometimes help the elderly or disabled by bringing them clean water, so they don’t have to use dirty river water.

Although there are many chores to do in Haiti, four of the most important are cooking, laundry, sweeping, and carrying water. People here have found remarkable ways to get what they need and to make do with what they have. I am always so surprised at how they do it. People from all over the world would benefit from knowing about how these chores are done by a people who have so little.

 

My First Trip to Haiti

I first arrived in Haiti on December 13th, with a week-long mission group. We landed at the Port-au-Prince airport, then took a helicopter into the mountains. Looking at Haiti from the helicopter was wonderful and sad at the same time. Haiti has stunningly green, tall mountains, rivers, trees, and everything that makes a place beautiful.

However, this beauty was far away from the cities and from Port-au-Prince. These places were different. Some houses, the size of a small car, were so crowded together that you could lean out your window and reach into someone else’s. That was very saddening, especially remembering all the comforts of our home.

The helicopter landed a short walk from the orphanage. All the kids from the orphanage (and some that weren’t) were there, watching. It was pretty funny- a few kids were filming us landing with iPads! Our baggage was unloaded, and then within a minute, the Haitian kids had picked it all up, and were off to the orphanage. We followed them. We went through someone’s backyard! They were preparing their food. We said “Bonjour” and waved. They didn’t seem to mind us going through their yard! 

I remember feeling so excited when I first saw the orphanage! We were shown upstairs to the missionaries’ rooms, and then given a tour. The kids and I were a little shy at first, but when I brought out some yarn, they all jumped on it. They showed me how to make all different kinds of braids out of it. I showed some of the older girls how to crochet a little, and they had fun laughing at their attempts to make stitches.

I made so many new friends, and I can’t wait to go back and meet them again! The kids just love having someone their own age to play with. My fondest memories are our tickle wars, with me against everyone else, playing tag, them teaching me cartwheels, and them doing my hair. They made me countless bracelets out of the yarn I gave them! 

We also went on multiple home visits in the mountains. Some of the people were better off than others, but they all make me sad to think of. I still pray for them whenever I think of them. They certainly do need prayer! But it is amazing how happy you can make them with a few games, gifts, and some time. A little boy, maybe eight years old, wanted me to dance with him when some members of the team were playing some music. I think that dance made his month. You should have seen the smile on his face!

I hope this story has given you a new love for all the people who need us! Please help us support them with your prayers. Thank all of you so much!