Putting Out Fires (Literally)

In Case You Thought Our Biggest Worry This Week Was The Truck

When I tell you there is never a dull moment here in Haiti I truly mean there is NEVER a dull moment.  We have been sharing our need for a new truck but here is what has been happening here in Haiti this week:

The yard directly adjacent to our house is vacant.  There is a house that is half built and a decent size yard.  Starting last week a few people started to clean it up and we thought nothing of it.  On Sunday morning a man climbed a tree and cut every branch off of it.  I know this because he could look into our living room from where he was (the yard and tree are that close).  Monday morning the same man and a woman piled all of the branches together, covered them with dirt about 4 feet high, put rocks around the pile in a circle and lit it on fire through a hole in the bottom.  It was a huge mound and immediately started to smoke and smell awful.  By Monday evening, smoke was entering our house and more specifically, Elijah’s room.  It was so bad that Matt had to go out and investigate.  In case you haven’t figured out what it is yet, a couple of people had decided to make charcoal (and a lot) directly next to our house.  Our only source of airflow (no AC) is open windows and we had to close them all.  I was panicking at the thought of Elijah and Sophie breathing this in all night.  Our security guard assured Matt that this was not ok to do this close to a home and that when people make charcoal it typically does a slow burn like it was doing for 3-4 days.  At this point the house smelled awful, was extremely hot, and also had smoke inside of it.  Our security guard started to ask around to find out who made the charcoal pile.  The sun had already gone down so this was a little more challenging although word of mouth here in Haiti moves very quickly.  Within about 10 minutes they’d located the person responsible for the charcoal, a security guard from a nearby organization was here helping, our security guard at the kid’s house was also here (Sony), and Kervinson and Son Son came as well.  Everyone agreed that it was not ok to make charcoal there and it was decided that it would be “covered with earth” (direct translation) to keep the smoke away.  This took a lot of joint effort and a lot of earth but they finally got the fire out.

Since Monday evening, it has reignited at minimum 8 times including 1 more time this morning.  Our wonderful daytime security guard along with Kin Kin and Matt have carried bucket upon bucket of water to put the fire the rest of the way out and dug through to find the source of the fire.  Matt has assured me that our 60-year-old security guard can and has carried 3 buckets to his 1.  It has been what the majority of our focus has had to be on here this week and that has been frustrating to say the least.  You never know what a day will bring here and if you’d told me my biggest stressor this week would be charcoal being made and the smoke coming into my baby’s rooms here I would have said you’re crazy.  But here we are….literally putting out fires.

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