This journal chronicles the six months my mother spent in Haiti from October, 1987 to February, 1988, working as an RN in a clinic sponsored by a non-profit located in Searcy, Arkansas. Jerry Myhan, Director of the Clinic, had his young family with him. Haitian workers in the clinic served as interpreters, clerks, and medication management. The following is taken from the journal she kept with a little editing on my part.
One evening when Debbie’s Creole teacher came to our house for a lesson, he found us in the middle of another project — filling a waterbed.
Debbie went out to the backyard for some reason and suddenly began screaming! We ran to the door to see her jumping up and down and yelling, ” foumi, foumi” in Creole which means ants!
A big tub of water was by the door; she shucked her shoes and stepped in, pulling up her skirts and splashing water on her legs and feet. The fellows and i just stood and stared at her but eventually tried to help.
She finally stepped out of the tub and dried off but was still stinging and burning. With much persuasion I got her to take a Benadryl pill.
After things quieted down and each of us went back to our tasks I heard Saint Fa say, “Debbie, you dance very well!”
Staring at him in surprise she said, “What do you mean? You’ve never seen me dance!”
“Oh yes,” he replied, “when you stepped in the ants!”
My mother was a great Southern cook who majored in home economics in her first year of college. It’s not surprising to find recipes in her journal from Haiti. I have not tried any of these recipes so attempt these with no guarantee from me. Mama’s not here to correct any mistakes.
- Rice and Beans
- Creole Sauce
- Fried Plantains
- French Fries
Rice and Beans
- Crushed cloves
- a spoonful of catsup
- 2 boullion cubes
- 1 cup of oil, heated
- 2 coarsely chopped carrots
- 1 cup of boiled cashews
- 4 cups cooked and drained dried beans (save the water they were cooked in.)
- 2 cups rice
- salt and hot pepper
Add cloves, catsup and boullion cubes to 1 cup of hot oil in a large pot. Add carrots, cashews, and beans. Let cook in hot oil about 15 minutes. Add water from beans. Add salt and hot pepper with beans. Cook 30 minutes. Wash rice and add to pot. Cook about 30 more minutes.
Heat 1/2 cup oil in saucepan.
- 1 T. ketchup
- 1 t. salt
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 sliced tomato
- 2 lbs. peeled and boiled shrimp in 1 c. water
This comes with no other directions. My guess is that you saute the first 4 ingredients in the oil. Something seems to be missing here!
Slice the plantains and fry in hot oil a few minutes. Soak in salt water and then fry again until crisp. (I’m sure you need to blot off the water completely before putting them back in the hot oil.)
This a pastry using flour and water, salt and dried fish. The fish have been ground to a powder with a wooden mortar and pestle. The ingredients are blended into a thin batter and then dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil. It puffs up as it cooks and is delicious hot!
All of these foods can be bought on the street from vendors — Haiti’s fast food!
There are only two more entries in this journal from Haiti.
I continue to be thankful for Mama’s good health that allowed her to work in Haiti, for her faith and courage to take this bold step into Haiti, for the team from the United States who worked together in the clinic, for the Haitian workers who gave them the necessary support to tend to the physical and spiritual needs of the poor in Cap Haitian.
May God be glorified and honored in the work they completed.