When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. -Galatians 6:10a (NCV)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fan mail

I have a request! Someone actually reads this blog and requested a posting! Does it still count if it was a family member? Aunt Terry (aunt pictured on the Left. Nut Hattie is pictured on Right) -who makes fabulous food by the way-asked me to post about the foods I eat in Haiti and post some pics. I have to be honest though. I am learning to cook Haitian food so I have a cook that comes 3 times a week and the house boy here at the mission house can cook up a mean Haitian meal. FYI-not all these pics are mine. I found some of the pics of food on other sites and "borrowed" them for educational purposes.

Breakfast is normal American breakfast stuff. Well pretty much. They try to make spaghetti for breakfast sometimes and I have to veto that. We have eggs, toast, pancakes, crackers, fruit.

Lunch is the main meal here and normally eaten around 130 or 2pm. One of my favorite things to fix is lam. The English word for it is breadfruit. You peel/cu off the tough outer skin and inside is white. you slice it up like french fries and deep fry it. It really tastes like McDonald's french fries. Haitians also boil it and eat it but I am so hooked on the deep-fried variety I haven't tried boiled. We eat this with sandwiches, as a snack. One of my favorite combos is fried peanut butter and jelly with fried lam. Heart attack waiting to happen, but so good!

Another side dish you find everywhere in Haiti is Banann. It is a plantain. They boil and fry it. Guess which kind we eat here? How did you know? First you peel the Banann. The cut it into chunks and deep fry it.When it gets soft in the middle and a little crusty on the outside, take it out and smash it flat. You can smash it between 2 plates like here or we use the lid to the mayo jar most of the time.
Then put it back in the deep frying oil until it is nice and crispy. I of course dip it in Ketchup but have never seen a Haitian do this and have gotten some pretty strange looks for doing it. They also put a spicy cole slaw on top if it and eat it that way. Yummy too-if you like spicy food!

This picture is another way they fix the banann and sell it on the streets. I am not sure hw they do it. I think cut it into long, thin strips and deep fry it and sprinkle with salt. It's like a plantain chip. Very tasty. Sells for 5 gourde (exchange rate is around 40 gourde to $1 US) a pack. There are probably 15 in a pack. So a very cheap snack. We love them!

Now to the staple of Haitian food-Rice and Beans!
Haitian rice and beans are so good! Especially if they make it spicy with Pima peppers. These peppers are super hot. A little goes a long way. They make a red sauce with oil, a little tomato paste, onions, and Maggi. It moistens the already moist rice and it so good. I have to admit though that rice and beans does get old when you get it 3-4 times a week. Sometimes we have chicken with it. Sometimes lobster. Rarely beef. I buy our beef in Port-au-Prince when I go at the grocery store. The beef here is killed in the morning and hangs in the open air in the market covered in flies so I opt out of that for us. A lot of people eat goat meat with rice and beans too but I am not a fan of goat meat so we don't. Back to the rice. I have made the rice under supervision twice. You put garlic, onions and other fresh spices bought in the market (which by the way are super fresh and super good!) crush them and simmer in oil. Then add the rice and water and let it cook. Of course I am forgetting you fix the beans first as they take a long time to cook. The cook here usually started making lunch around 10 am and it's done about 1 or 130pm. No instant cooking here!

And Haitian spaghetti. We couldn't talk about Haitian food and leave out the spaghetti! So they make the noodles the same. But there is very little sauce on it and it is oilier than ours. It's spicy too. And of course has the infamous hotdogs inside. Yep, that's right hot dogs. And remember this is a favorite breakfast food in Haiti. Weird! I love the spaghetti (minus hotdogs-Odessa eats hers and mine).

Haiti has so many good fruits. We make fresh sqeezed juice all the time. Odessa is learning how to help make it too. You also get a nice view of the kitchen. And my dirty hair. Ignore that. I am washing it tonight. Seriously. Well...I'm in Haiti-give me a break. It has been raining all week and NO sun to warm the water on the roof to bathe. I jump in and wash off but have been too cold to wash my hair-give me a break-it's long and takes a long time. Too long in cold water. OK back to the juice. tonight we made orange juice and lime juice. The lime is little too tart for me but Odessa loves it.

One cool little fruit Haiti has is called Ka-nips. It has a hard rind that when you bite it it pops open and a little, slimy fruit comes out that feels like a grape without the skin on. It's good and has a hard, large seed in the middle. You can buy 30 of them for 5 gourde. Cheap snack when they are in season. Beware though-they stain clothes! I found that out the hard way-Odessa has ruined many an outfit! It is a clear juice that seems harmless but stains clothes black when it dries.I think I could go on and on about the food here. There are so many different things I have never seen in the US. Maybe another installment of Haitian food blog is needed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nutrition Class update

Just wanted to give an update on the mother/infant nutrition class. So I've been winging it and teaching about topics I thought needed taught and then the mothers had some ideas for classes too. So we do talk a lot about nutrition and breastfeeding, but have done classes on personal hygiene, baby hygiene, and how we are examples to our children. I have been really impressed with these women. They are always on time (after the first week of me leaving them!) and they really participate in the class. They are starting to ask more questions and let their guard down more. But I have been really happy with their response to the material. We have 2 more weeks of class and then this session is over and other mothers are already asking to be in the next class. I am going to take some time to revamp it a little and hopefully take more mothers in this next class.

This week they all got a month's supply of vitamins and handmade baby blankets sent from churches in the states and I forgot my camera! So sorry no pics. The class was about choosing foods in the market that had the same vitamins in them that the vitamin pills have in them. So I had them take their bottle of vitamins out of the bag and we read what was inside them. Then we talked about foods they could buy in the market with these vitamins in them already. I know they will not be able to afford to buy more vitamins for themselves in the future but I wanted them to know what food choices would give them the same nutrients. For example, they saw there is Vitamin C in the pills. I explained why we need Vit C and then told them they could find it in oranges and mangoes. We talked about Iron and how it gives energy. They learned they could find Iron in red meat and dried beans. We talked about 7 vitamins total.

I thought it was a ton of information and didn't know how well they would remember. That complicated for me to keep straight and these are women who didn't go to school! I quizzed them at the end and they did awesome! Now the real test will be to check their shopping bags in the market!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Job and The House That Was

Last Sunday a 4 year old little boy came up to me and told me he couldn't start school next month. When I asked him why he said b/c his house burnt down last week and his school uniform, shoes and books were inside and now they are gone. His family doesn't have the money to buy new ones. Then I remembered last week I was stopped by people on the street 4 times total to tell me about his family and their house that burned. Now I was meeting Job, at 4 years old he is the youngest of the family. Job came to church by himself and I told him to tell his parents I was coming to talk to them at their house on Monday morning. The school principal, Met-Sorel, said he would go with me to show me where they lived.

We went to a house that is made of banana leaves and some old wood. I met mom, dad and their 3 sons. Mom did all of the talking and said they were renting this house until they figured out what else to do. Now I use the term "house" very loosely. It has 4 crooked, warped, wood walls and banana branches and leaves as a roof. But I guess it is a dry place to sleep. We walked even farther up into the mountains and found the remains of their house. It literally burnt to the ground and everything in it was lost. This family has no clothes, cooking utensils, bedding, nothing. They are not Christians and do not attend church. The mother said, "Sometimes I think God has to shake some people to make them listen. I've been shaken and now I'm listening." I encouraged them to come to church this coming Sunday and told them the start times. We talked about how material things can all be replaced and how thankful we were that no one was inside the house. We talked about how God never promised we would not have difficult times in this life but He promised to never leave us to go through them alone. We talked about how much God loves His children and He is waiting for all of His children to come to Him. They walked around the ground which used to be in the inside of the house and tried to recognize the charred contents.

I was telling this story to an American couple that evening and they asked how much money it would cost to replace Job's school supplies. I gave them an estimate and they readily agreed to send the money! Job's family does not have a telephone but I am returning to Peredo tomorrow and will share this gift a Christian couple hundreds of miles away is giving to their child.

I looked through donations received on Haitian Christian Outreach's containers that were sent after the earthquake and found bed sheets, clothing, soap, and toiletries to give this family as they start rebuilding their lives. To everyone who brought and collected items to send -thank you for doing so and helping this family. Please pray with me that this Christian act of love will encourage them to seek the God who we already love and serve!