I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Time is Not Always Money

The phrase "time is money" doesn't have any place in Haiti. Money is coveted by everyone, but rare to come by, and time is virtually irrelevant. There are no clocks, watches, or sundials in Mon Bouton (up in the mountains) and they don't really count. There is no 'official' time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. On Mon Bouton there is no such thing as time.

When we arrived in Mon Bouton after our 9 hour journey from the airport in Port-au-Prince, the timing of everything seemed completely normal. At 6:30pm we finished our hike and reached our new homes and met the small community, we ate dinner together at around 7:00pm, and due to our exhaustion from the long day before, we were ready to go to bed but filtering the water took us another 2 good hours.

We were surprised at what time we woke up the next morning. We each woke up and immediately turned on our phones to checked the time. Drew's read 6:20, Omri's 5:45, and Nittai and Omer woke up together quite later (but also slept very little the night before). What woke us up was what was different - it was the fact that none of the families on Mon Bouton had any care about what time it was. From the time the sun rose, families quickly began their day. Some pounded corn, some washed clothes, and others took care of the animals. There was no desire to sleep in or fall back asleep, no reason not to start the day, and no clock to tell them to do so differently. Drew's alarm was the sound of an actual rooster cooing it's traditional morning call. Omri heard the kitchen alive at 5:45 as his family pounded out corn and beans for breakfast, and Omer and Nittai woke up when they couldn't ignore the noise and heat.

We began our stay in Mon Bouton which only furthered our realization that time was an unnecessary means of measurement in the mountains of Haiti. Hikes were measured as 'near the Church', 'past the Wash-Wash', 'upstairs' and 'down'. Meals began when they began - breakfast (which can be spaghetti one day, and bread with ketchup-like sauce the next day) started at anytime after the sun comes up and visitors wake up, lunch could come soon thereafter, and dinner was any time after that. With all the commotion within the small community, by the time the sun sets, the entire village comes to a complete halt - whether it's 7 or 11, nobody really seems to care.

Time doesn't mean anything to the people of Mon Bouton. They know their daily duties, they have their routines and 'jobs', but they have no reason to concern themselves with 'when'. If the sun is up, then sleeping any later is wasted daylight - there is no reason to wait to start the day. They rarely use candles or other lights because by the time night falls, they have already done all that they need to fit in a day.

It seemed so out of place to us all. We have become so used to our lives which are determined by clocks. School bells, phone alarms, and microwave timers rule our days, and our schedules are regimented. And because of all this, our lives seem to revolve nonstop around what time of day it is and how much we can fit in to the 16 hours we spend awake each day.

On a trip where it seems everything must revolve around time - flights, car rides, meet-ups, and hikes - Mon Bouton showed us that we could take off our watches, turn off our phones, and just live out the day. Regardless of how early it started.

No comments:

Post a Comment