Have you ever been offered food that you turned your nose up at? Maybe it was something sweet, but you were craving savory. Maybe It was too light, and you were wanting something more substantial. Or maybe...It was a peanut butter sandwich, and you just weren't in the mood.
Today, we were tasked with delivering lunch to several elderly people in Titanyen. The translation of the city's name? Less than nothing. Before leaving, we made up several peanut butter sandwiches. A simple meal, but one we'd been advised their stomachs could handle. We bought a few cartons of orange juice too, which we poured into paper cups. Something refreshing to wash their meal down with. Our tap tap drove through the hotter than hot desert climate, and eventually turned off the road, onto a bumpy, gravel and weed padded down path, lined tightly with one room shacks made of cement and metal. As we jumped off the back of the tap tap, we were greeted with eager neighborhood children, all hopeful and curious of what we came bearing. I quickly concealed the sandwiches under my shirt, knowing they were intended for the specific elders we were delivering to. One of the most painful things about Haiti is coming to learn you can't meet every smiling, desperate face with a so needed physical gift, be it food or drink.
The first shack fell below my expectations, as I crossed through the crooked door into a dark, dirty and small room. Greeted by Marie, a 104 year old women who sat on the filthy hard floor staring straight ahead and smiling. No entertainment in the form of TV, radio, crafts, etc. No comfort except the thin blanket that separated her frail bones and housecoat from the floor where she sat. Yet sadly, she knew nothing different.
After each home we visited, my role as conductor of the greeting wagon, bearing the sandwich became harder and harder. My optimistic smile slowly became forced and a lump in my throat quickly formed after every home and life we peeked inside of. Eventually, our group moved onward into the fourth home. We were welcomed into Aloude's home, a bit more spacious and bright than the past few. Her children and grandchildren followed her and us closely inside. After a brief greeting via our translator, I handed the peanut butter sandwich to Aloude. Sometimes it's uncomfortable giving away something like a peanut butter sandwich, which to us, feels small and minimal. But Aloude very graciously accepted it and within a few seconds began ripping the sandwich into pieces, dispersing it amongst her many wide eyed, hopeful grandchildren until there was nothing left. At that point, my heavy eyes could no longer hold their tears. Amongst the deep poverty and despair in Titanyen lies selflessness, love and generosity deeper than any I've ever witnessed. Which all stemmed...from a peanut butter sandwich.