|The Senatus family pictured with me, my niece (Ally), and my sister (Tricia)|
“If there are twenty-three families living in the Village of Joy, then I would like to meet twenty-three families,” I told our Food for the Poor (FFP) representative when we planned the trip. “I want to hear their stories,” I explained. I think she thought I was a little nuts for wanting to talk to every family, but the FFP staff went to great lengths to arrange the meetings.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as we approached the first house where the Senatus family lived. To get the conversation going, we asked, “How many people live in the house?” “Eight.” The answer blew me away. These are small 12’x 24’ homes—smaller than a typical two car garage in the US. Mr. Senatus lives in this small three room house with four children and three granddaughters under the age of five. He lost his wife a year and a half ago. He also lost a daughter recently.
|Mr. Senatus's son showed us around their home. I asked him if he is a Bulls fan. He smiled and said yes. I asked him if he knows who Michael Jordan is. Again, he smiled and said yes.|
|Two of Mr. Senatus's grandchildren. Look at those beautiful faces!|
At our request, Mr. Senatus and his son showed us their home. The living room, the largest of the three rooms, contained little except for a number of plastic patio chairs—the kind we can buy at Walmart for $10. In the two smaller rooms, there were a few mattresses that the family members share. It did not appear that there is enough space on the mattresses for eight people to sleep. Kate, FFP’s Director of Projects for all of Haiti, who was with us on the trip, explained that some of them most likely sleep on blankets on the concrete floor.
I asked Mr. Senatus how their new house compared to their old home. “I thank God everyday for this house,” he replied. “Before, there was no room to sleep. Now we have all this room." As Americans, it is difficult for us to comprehend how small the old house must have been for 288 square feet to seem spacious for a family of eight. Equally important for the family, the new home gives them a safe, dry place to sleep when it rains.