At the end of June I watched these students peek into their new cafeteria.
There were lots of oohs and ahhhs. This was the week where there was lots of painting – both inside and outside the new building. The outside trim was completed, while inside the new sturdy tables were all being painted different colors. The building is nearly complete.
I remember in June 1999 when a small medical team helped the Haitians build the original cafeteria. (I use the word “helped” loosely, as the medical team actually only kept the Haitians company while they built it.) The cafeteria was built as part of Pastor Delamy’s dream for the children to eat inside, where it was clean and they could learn manners. Before this, they were served outside, sitting on the ground.
The original cafeteria was built for cooking and serving 65 students. Today there are almost 1,000 students plus teachers at the school. Kitchen staff serve the children continuously from about 10:30 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, in 12 minute shifts. You can imagine how disruptive this is to the school schedule. The new cafeteria will serve about 300 students at a time!
Although I am happy for the students (many of them helped build it), the people I’m the most delighted for are the tireless cooks. These faithful, non-complaining women begin their day at 4:30 a.m.
Until two years ago, they carried all the water for cooking and drinking on their heads from a well a quarter of a mile downhill. Now there is a solar pump, which pumps water directly into the kitchen from the cistern. They will have a large kitchen with a huge sink and running water – no more bucket washing!
Hand washing has always been an issue and now there are hand washing stations outside the cafeteria where the students line up. (Yes there will be hand washing monitors.)
I’m excited to return to Haiti this fall and see the cooks in their new kitchen and the cafeteria filled with children eating at these beautiful tables. God is good. Over 220 people contributed to this cafeteria building, which commemorated the Haiti Foundation of Hope 10 year anniversary.
Another note of interest: Many of you know that Haiti has experienced another disaster: the drought of the last two years. Pastor Delamy told me that when the drought was at the very worst, the money arrived to begin construction of this cafeteria. Ninety-five percent of the labor force for this project was from local villagers. They are thankful to God for this provision!
Written by Linda Markee, HFH board member and team leader.