I'm having a "sigh" day. I chatted with Harry last night.
He started his conversation with me by saying, "I am very worried for some things". That's Harry saying, "You've got to help me. I can't sleep because of some of these things I have no control over. Remember how there's no way for me to get work here? Remember how I'm trying to care for so many other people that I can't take care of my own family sometimes?"
I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I need to get the rent to the owner".
In Haiti they pay rent for buildings a year at a time. That means it's easy for me to forget that he has to do that. It also means he's been worried about this for weeks and just now wanted to remind me that he still owes that.
I asked him what the rent was. I honestly don't know.
See last year at the first of the year, my son was still in an orphanage in Haiti. Last year, Bel Haiti paid the rent at THAT facility.
Then the earth shook and walls fell and all hell broke loose.
My son came home.
We had to split off from the orphanage he was in for a lot of reasons that aren't open for public nosiness.
We reorganized ourselves as Bel Haiti and Harry became our employee.
Harry lives in a building that should technically be paid for by another organization, another orphanage. He lives in a building that was one of three locations of another orphanage. Harry (and his wife and two kids) live in that facility and run the location for that orphanage's director in exchange for a roof over his head.
He, his wife and two children live in one room of that building. That's it. Their "home" is one room.
Oh, and his family gets to eat when the orphanage kids eat.
Have I mentioned Haiti's a rough place to live?
This year, things aren't good in Haiti. The orphanage director can't pay the rent on Harry's location. Since all that orphanage's locations were severely damaged by the earthquake, they are STRUGGLING for every penny this year.
Where does that leave Harry? What is he to do?
He said, 'The rent is $7000, but this building very bad and need much repairs. All the board part [he means "everything made of wood"] been distroyed the woof and the kitchen. also the gates. It all need paint. Very dirty."
I said, "in America the building owner pays the repairs."
Yeah... not how it works in Haiti.
I said, "Harry, please help me remember. Do you feel $7000 is a fair price for that building?"
See it's hard for me to translate things into "Haiti". I live in America and have a garage for my cars and electricity all the time. I have sewage and running CLEAN water piped right into my house.
What do I know about the going yearly rate for a broken down building in Haiti?
Harry's optimism never ceases to amaze me.
He said, "Yes. $7000 very good price. I would like to have better place but i love this place because it is safe and the weather is cool and it easier to take tap-tap when the car is broken."
In Haiti, the cars are always broken. It's always hard for Harry to get things. He has to find a water truck to come and fill the cistern so that he and the children will have water. That costs him $75 every other week. He has to find gasoline so that they can have the generator run in the evenings for a short while. At $4 per gallon, that's not cheap.
But here he is, 6 weeks into the new year, and the landlord wants his money.
How do I tell a man who is living somewhere that should probably be condemned by US standards but by Haitian standards is someplace to "really love" that I don't have the $7000 he needs to cross this worry off his list?
Sometimes I get so focused on raising the other $33K we need for our part of the wall that I forget that Harry still has day-to-day in Haiti to pay for and no funds to do it.
He's always so grateful for every penny we send him. I know he really feels sad when he has to ask for more money because the rent is due or he can't feed the kids if he doesn't get money soon. It's usually smaller increments and we can usually send it to him, but we don't have this chunk of money for the rent.
What do I tell him?
I tell him "I'll get it. We'll find it Harry. We can't have you homeless."
And I cry as I type it from my warm house with the running water because my son "came home".
Harry IS HOME. That's his world. He lives there. That's what he knows.