4th June 2016
I woke this morning to the sound of heavy vehicles manoeuvring in the yard downstairs at about 5.30 a.m. I knew what was happening; the truck we were expecting since Thursday had arrived with food for the poor. The driver was trying every which way to back it up as close as possible to the storage depot. I looked out and thought, ‘No, there’s no way it’s going to fit!’
Eventually the engine stopped and it was going to be opened where it was. There were quite a few men standing around and I thought, ‘News travels fast.’ They were certainly on the ball, ready to get the food on arrival.
But I was mistaken, these men had been hired for a number of hours to unload the truck and store the food away. And there was no shortage of them, ready, willing and able to work and it wasn’t even 6.00 a.m. on a Saturday morning!
Work is in such short supply in Jean Rabel so these men were delighted with the opportunity to earn some money any way they could.
By the time I got back from the bathroom, Sr. Rose and Sr. Nazareth had the 5 truck drivers enjoying coffee in the kitchen. They wouldn’t be involved with unloading the truck, just driving it from Port-au-Prince to Jean Rabel on the rockiest of roads.
In fact the consignment from Food for the Poor, a US organisation and one of the country’s largest international relief and development organisations that ministers to the poorest of the poor in 17 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, had arrived in Jean Rabel at mid-night on Friday; the drivers had slept in the trucks overnight and now the job of unloading and storing was just about to begin.
I went downstairs to take a few photos to record the event, as Jean Rabel had never gotten such a big consignment from Food for the Poor before. This was a milestone moment!
It was then I discovered there were in fact 2 huge articulated trucks parked in the yard – one as big as the other, and possibly with the largest containers I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the moment the doors opened and the men got to work carrying the boxes of rice and lentils, beans and jars of hummus.
It took 12 men almost 5 hours to move all the items into the storage area, but thankfully we had room for everything; they won’t be stored for too long as distribution to those in need will begin within the next few days.
Sr. Nazareth was ‘operations manager’ for the day, ably assisted by Supreme, the sisters’ caretaker.
It was a tough job ensuring everything expected had arrived in tact and it was after 8.00 a.m. and everything was in full swing, before Sr. Nazareth had the chance to leave her post and have some breakfast.
Sr. Rose had already left in the car to pick up Sr. Marge, the congregation’s Provincial, who was coming to Jean Rabel to visit for a few days, but not before checking that everything was in order.
I went about my own duties – taking my computer class till after 10.00 a.m. and the truck operations were still going strong when I finished.
It was almost 11.00 a.m. by the time the last box was installed in the storage unit and the men were able to go home and rest. The sun had been beaming down on them throughout the ordeal from 6.00 a.m. but they had no complaints, they were happy to have the opportunity to work for payment.
Meanwhile the sisters are looking forward to being able to distribute the food to those in need in the wide catchment area of Jean Rabel.