It was just a little rock pile. Not like the ones on down the road that were completed and ready for projects. But what made this rock pile interesting was the little boy sitting on the pile, hammer in hand, tap, tap, tapping.
The morning sun cast shafts of light across his little pile and the air was still cool from the night. Tap, tap, tap and the little hammer continued on.
Groups of children passed by on their way to school, laughing, and usually carrying a stick or two for the school cook to make the noon time meal. The little boy turns away. Tap, tap, tap.
Construction in the out of the way village of Dos-Palais is rather crude by US standards. But also very modern as you compare it to Haitian standards. Cement bricks, mortar, gravel, and rebar all were being used for the new medical clinic in the center of town. Most of the supplies came from Loscohobas which is about an hours drive on rough roads. But the gravel came from Dos-Palais. Hard labor produced that gravel.
Rocks were taken from the river as the children transported water back home to their Mothers’ kitchen. They either carried the rock in their hands and balanced the bucket of water on their head or the rock on their head and the bucket in hand. Either way, the rocks were transported to the growing rock pile being made into large chunk gravel used by the workmen for the new clinic.
Money is important to the family trying to keep up with food for 8 or 10 kids. The money for the gravel is quickly gone. So everyone that is strong enough to swing the hammer works, never mind school because many of them have no money for that dream.
So he sat on the rock pile. Tap, tap, tap. As I came near I asked him why he wasn’t in school. Not wanting to answer he dipped his head down to look away. It’s so hard to hide the tears and the hurt of seeing your friends walking to school and now this man wants to know why. How do I answer he questioned to himself.
Finally, in as few words as possible he explained he could not go to school because his family could not afford the uniform. Family information was given and I knew of his father.
Here I stand, a man born in Haiti, with memories of growing up poor and the unknown flooding through me, knowing somewhat how this little boy felt.
“Lord, there are so many, where do I start!” And the Still Small Voice said “Just one, start with just one!”.
~Story as related to me by Wissel Joseph, President/Founder, Children for a New Haiti