This is Darlene! She is a lovely Haitian woman with a fabulous smile and a sweet spirit. In Haiti (as in many impoverished nations around the world), it is customary and expected for a foreigner (who by being foreign is seen as wealthy) to provide a job for someone. We have hired Darlene to help us around our house. This was difficult for me at first. I disliked the feeling of being the “rich, white foreigner” but I am becoming more comfortable with the fact that we are helping Darlene be able to feed her family and she is helping us be able to do other things besides just live.
Living life in Haiti just takes a really long time…hauling water from the well, washing clothes for 5 (soon to be six) people, cooking meals (many times from scratch), keeping a decently clean house in a very dirty country, etc. Just doing these things would keep me busy from sun up to sun down. Having Darlene has made it possible for me to invest in my children’s education and spend time each day learning Haitian Creole (or at least try!).
Darlene works for us 4 days/week (8:30ish to after lunch but always before 4pm depending on what she is doing). She hand washes our clothes, linens, and cloth diapers. She carries water from the well for us (done beautifully and gracefully on her head!) She usually sweeps and mops once a week and cooks our family a traditional Haitian meal once a week (which we share with her family by sending a generous portion home with her). She also does other random things around our house that come up.
She loves our boys already and as my Creole gets better and we are able to communicate more, I see us connecting on a deeper heart level. She has a sweetness in her eyes and an inner strength that seems to be common for Haitian women. I love that when we were away at Christmas time, John Ellis would randomly ask, “Where Darlene?”. He doesn’t always enjoy her holding him but I can see the boys already like when she stops for a moment to sit and play with them or try to teach them a word in Creole. When she comes to our door in the morning, she is greeter with 3 little boys yelling, “Bonjou, Ms. Darlene!” I hope she loves this…I think she does from the big smile on her face.
This is Darlene and her daughter, Erika. She also has a two year old, Danica, but we haven’t met her yet.
This is what happens when Darlene sees me fighting to keep my hair wadded up and out of my face. She decided that she needed to braid it for me. I think there was a bit of annoyance that my hair does not stay braided tightly like she wanted. Haitians take meticulous care in their appearance and I am sure they think I am a total slob! =) This pic was taken after it had mostly fallen out and messed up. Haitian women are excellent braiders of hair but my slick hair proved a challenge! Oh, well! I felt loved that she wanted to do my hair.
Pray for Darlene and her family! That they would thrive and that our family would be a blessing to her family. She has already been a blessing to us. Pray for my Creole to advance quickly. The more we can talk the easier it is to connect to Darlene and really get to know who she is on the inside. I want to invest in her life in more ways than just providing an income.