It was an interesting week on my roof. A few days ago, I kept a promise to my boys and we had a picnic lunch on the roof. It was probably 110 degrees up there, with the midday tropical sun beating down on us from above and heat radiating back up at us from the concrete below. But we spread out our picnic blanket anyway, pulled sandwiches out of our little picnic basket, and munched away. We noted birds flying above us, ants crawling around us, and the different leaves of the mahogany tree beside us. The boys laughed, ate, then scampered and hid under the solar panels. My roof was a place of joy.
Yesterday, the yelling near my house that I had thought were because of a soccer game turned out to be a marching protest that had arrived in my neighborhood. My MAF neighbor called, asking if I could hear it, too. To confirm this is what was happening, I climbed the ladder from the back balcony onto the roof, and listened to the chants, yells, whistles and drumbeats, watched maybe 50 people streaming to the front of the national Ministry of Education office to lodge their complaint. This is perhaps the 10th such protest in the past few weeks; they've been averaging two a week. I appreciate their pursuit of justice and many times these protests are peaceful. A couple of times, however, gunfire has broken out. A block from my house as the crow flies, knowing that shots are often fired into the air... this is disconcerting. Yesterday, my roof was a place of fear.
Literally as I typed that last sentence, a large "POP" noise came from downstairs. My fight or flight instincts kicked in - heart racing, eyes darting, ears straining. Then I remembered, the kids are playing with balloons.
Some days are joyful. Some days are fearful. All days: prayer appreciated.
Yep, it really is. Plain concrete. Tin. And a bright light in my eyes as I tell you about it!
A man who works for us, (we'll call him Fenel) approached me recently asking for a gift of 2000 goudes. $31. With it, he would pay for a concrete floor so his family could move out of their rental and into their own house, saving 6 months of rent.
Of course we said yes. My one request? Was that he bring me a photo of it when it was done. A) to ensure that said money was spent on said project. B) because I wanted to see what this place actually looked like.
Well, he brought me the photo a few days ago. And I loved it. And it made me want to cry.
You see, this photo shows maybe a 10x10, one-room house. Concrete floor, tin walls, a bucket cemented into the floor that goes into a septic pit underneath the foundation. Way outside of town. A two hour commute on public transportation from his house to mine. This is where Fenel, his wife, and his four children will call home, sweet home.
It broke my heart that this was a good choice for them. That they are excited about this. That I whine about things like noise and heat when I live in a mansion, nay, a palace, compared to him. Hello, reality check.
But the joy? He has pride of ownership now. His family will live in a place that is theirs. And in a few hours he will bring me a quote for building block walls... because I can't stomach the idea that when the next tropical storm hits, I'll be waiting it out in my palace, enjoying the sound of the thunder, while his children huddle in their shanty, hoping their walls don't fly away.
It's a little thing, in the midst of the sea of poverty we float in. But I LOVE this little thing.