Friday, December 25, 2009



Christmas in Haiti is definitely different than Canada. It’s amazing how quiet it is without the constant consumerism being shoved in your face – that doesn’t even enter a Haitian’s mind. In many ways Christmas is like any other day of the year, people are working to find someway to feed their family that day. I’m sure there will be more celebrating in the streets tonight.
Last night, Christmas Eve, there was a live Nativity play at the church across the road. What a show! There are definitely people here that like to entertain. It was the longest Nativity play I’ve ever seen (2 hours) but it was complete with a live donkey, so that made it worth it!
The rain finally let up yesterday morning, so we’ve been able to enjoy some sunshine, and more importantly get some laundry done! The visiting group from the States is hiking to the top of the Citadelle today. I’ve decided to stay home as I am just nicely getting over a cold here. Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we hope to go to the beach.
Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 21, 2009


It's been quiet the past few days. There are a few reasons for that. First, it was the weekend. I've been away for part of the days on Saturday and Sunday since i've been here, and this weekend I didn't leave at all so I really noticed the quiet. Everyone disappears - to go to market, to Cap, to the beach. It was a weird feeling to have the streets so empty. Sunday afternoons are always quiet. After church everyone disappears to their homes to spend time with family. School finished on Friday for holidays, so the campus is bare. And today, well it's quiet because it rained ALL NIGHT and it looks like its going to stay around for awhile.

This week will be busy. A lab services team (3 people) arrived on Saturday and will be working in the clinic here as well as some clinics in the surrounding area so there is some logistics to arranged for that. Also, the container of med supplies has arrived in Cap and we are now in the negotiation phase of having it released from customs. Please pray for a quick release for not too much money.

Church was wonderful yesterday - 1 hour and 55 minutes of music and a 5 minute sermon - my kinda service! There were several special numbers and some familiar Christmas Carols to sing along to, so I was happy.

The lab team will be here for Christmas, so we need to work on making some plans for celebration as Manno will hopefully be in the DR with his family later this week. Boxing Day is hopefully going to be spent at the beach! No door-crashing sales for me!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Oh the things I am learning here! I spent the past 2 days in a conference for midwives in the area. Two women from the States, a doctor and midwife, are here to learn from and teach midwives here. The majority of babies here are delivered by midwives as most people cannot afford to go to the hospital for delivery. Midwifery is very much seen as a calling by God here – you do not choose it. The midwives have servant hearts as much of the time they get paid very little for their services. And here’s something I didn’t expect – there are male midwives! It was very fascinating to observe the meeting and see how much experience and wisdom was in the room of 20 people - one woman said that the first baby she delivered is now 50 years old!
This past weekend I did something that I thought I wouldn’t do for a very long time. I went to the beach, but I did not swim because it was too cold! It wasn’t so much the cold, but the wind was horrendous and the ocean was “mad” as Manno would say. It’s still fun to be at the beach, even if you don’t swim.
My Creole is coming along slowly. I am spoiled here with quite a few people that speak English, so I’m not forced to use my Creole all the time. I guess I’ll soon have to have an “only Creole” day.
School is finishing up here at the university. It’s exam week so the students are busy studying and looking forward to going home for the Christmas break. They get the whole month of January off. So it will be quieter here around my office for awhile. We do have a few visiting groups coming over the next few weeks, so that will keep me busy over the holidays.
Thinking of all of you back in the very cold weather – I’ll try to send some warmth your way!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Time is a strange thing here. Sometimes it can pass so quickly... sometimes so slowly. Sometimes it can be of upmost importance... sometimes it can be of no importance at all. Sometimes a day can feel so busy... but not be filled with much accomplishment at all.

I'm trying to figure time out here. In Canada, I'm generally on time, even a bit early. Here, promptness isn't as important, although sometimes it is. It's hard to figure out when "we're leaving in 30 minutes" actually means we are leaving in 30 minutes, not in 2 hours from now.

This past week has been quite full. Last Thursday I was able to go with Dr. Manno to the community of Dendas - a remote village in the country past Cap-Haitien. He visits when he can as the there is not a full time doctor in the clinic there. It's amazing how much the environment can change from here to there. Here I am in the mountains, with lush greenery surrounding me. Dendas is in a flatter area and is quite dry and arid and has a very different feel then Limbe - it is definitely the country.

Last week I also met with the heads of the English Department here at the University and it looks like I will be teaching a couple of English classes next semester, which will be a great experience I think. I'm excited to meet the students, help them with their English and have them help me with my Creole. Last night I was able to attend the English clubs Christmas party, which was very entertaining.

Weekends in Haiti are all about relaxing and having fun, so I was able to go to the beach twice! Of course I was the only one swimming as it is winter here and it is "too cold" for my Haitian friends to swim. Oh well, I had a glorious time in the warm ocean and laying on the sand!

We've also been working on the logistics of receiving the container of medical supplies due to arrive within the next week. We were able to find a broker in Cap who will help a lot with that process.

So, many things on the go and we have some visitors coming in the next week so we are preparing for that as well!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today I love...

  • Sunshine
  • a weekend with 2 trips to the beach
  • omelets and fresh coffee for breakfast
  • electricity!
  • hanging out with friends
  • that the mosquitoes aren't biting me as much
  • that there is no snow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finding a schedule

Making a schedule is very hard to do here. I'd like to have some sort of pattern to my life here, and maybe I am slowly getting one. Usually in the morning I come to the "office" to check email and such - it regularly has electricity in the morning. Then I wander over to the clinic for a bit to see what is happening. Today is vaccination day, so there are lots of babies and small children around. Around 1 or so I have lunch. I think will try to study Creole this afternoon before I have an appointment at 3 and then Creole lessons at 5. Yes, I did find my Creole teacher and lessons have been going very well!
I believe that tomorrow we go on mobile clinic, so I will be gone most of the day and get to see some new country!
I purchased my first cellphone the other day! I'm still trying to figure out how it works here. Everyone think i'm crazy that i've never had a cellphone before!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Afternoon...

With electricity! What a treat! It came on at about 7 this morning and is still going strong! It would be really nice if it would last into the evening... I won't hold my breath!
It is a quiet Sunday afternoon here. I should probably be napping or something, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for electricity. I'm sitting in Dr. Manno's office at the university listening to the birds sing and the wind go through the trees. So peaceful!
I went to church across the lane this morning. Very warm, and very long, but I survived and was rewarded with a delicious Sunday dinner of chicken, rice, beans, fried bananas, tomatoes and fresh juice!
I still haven't been able to locate my Creole teacher - he seems to be hiding from me. I hope I can find him soon so that we can start formal lessons. I've enjoyed practicing with others, but i think some intensive studying will help.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I just got back from a Thanksgiving dinner at a radio station near Cap. It was good to meet some other Americans and Canadians working in the area. The contrasts of this country are so bizarre - that's all I have to say about that right now.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I made it!

Written November 26, 2009

It was a long journey, but I am finally in Haut-Limbe and it feels so good. I left Saskatoon on Monday night, flew to Calgary and then on to Toronto overnight. I wasn’t able to get as much sleep as I would have liked on the plane, so I was pretty tired in Toronto.
My flight to Puerto Plata, DR left later in the morning and I arrived around 4 in the afternoon. It was quite interesting to be on a plane full of vacationers ready to head to their resorts – I definitely was not going to one! Dr. Manno was there to pick me up and we drove to Santiago to spend the night as we would not be able to get to the border before dark.
The drive from Santiago to the border was probably a couple of hours. Crossing the border into Haiti was an experience. At that crossing, there is a river that separates Haiti for the Dominican Republic – the contrast on both sides is startling! The road between the two gates is horrendous – you definitely know you are entering Haiti! Clearing customs (as it were) was fairly simple – good thing Dr. Manno was there to speak Creole. The trip from the border to Cap-Haitien was about an hour and the roads were surprisingly good! The last bit of the journey from Cap-Haitien to Haut-Limbe was not quite as smooth – it seemed much worse from the last time I was here. Driving into Haut-Limbe was wonderful. It’s so good to see familiar places and people. I love the constant hum of noise around me – not traffic like in the city, but people talking, singing, roosters crowing – we’ve got it all! My first order of business it to start learning Creole. I was able to spend some time last night practicing with 2 of the girls that live at the house with Dr. Manno and his mom.
Thanks for all of your prayers for a safe journey – I really appreciate them.

Later that day...
I got to experience a Haitian wedding! I found out about it this morning and then found out what time it was at about a half an hour before we left. What an event! It was a long ceremony – almost 2 hours with lots of choirs singing and trios and solos. One thing about Haitians is that they love to talk, all at the same time! There was cheering and talking during the whole thing, people coming and going and more than just the official photographer going up to the front to take a picture of the happy couple. It was certainly a party!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've started packing. It's very difficult all you will need for a year in two 50 lbs bags. I have items and suitcases strewn around my room trying to prioritize what will be a need, especially since i can't just run down to the local drug store or mall. hmm...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tic Toc, Tic Toc

Right now I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Winnipeg, enjoying my morning coffee realizing that in 11 days, my reality will be so much different. Yes, I may be enjoying my morning coffee - but the view and sounds will be so much different. There won't be smooth jazz playing in the background - probably roosters, or dogs barking, or maybe even some old school Celine Dion blaring. Hmm... two different worlds - can't wait!

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's on it's way!!

The container is packed and is scheduled to arrive in Cap Haiten on November 26th - 2 days after I arrive!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

The date is set

I have my ticket! I'll be going to Haiti November 23 via the Dominican Republic. The countdown begins!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Starting Out

Here is my first entry folks. Contrary to the address, I’m not currently in Haiti. No, right now I’m in Norquay helping to bring the harvest in. If all goes as planned, I’ll be heading to Haiti by the end of November.
I thought I’d give a bit of an explanation of the title of my blog “Peeling the Onion”. No, this isn’t a gardening or cooking blog. “Peeling the Onion” refers to pulling back the many layers of understanding Haiti. I know that I will never be able to understand it all, but I hope that I will be able to slowly peel back the many layers, like an onion, to a greater understanding of the many complexities that exist within Haiti – politically, economically and culturally.

In case your interested, below is a letter I sent out to family and friends to let them know what I'll be doing.

Dear friends and family,

I’m writing to invite you to partner with me in an adventure.

10 years ago I visited the community of Haut Limbe, Haiti, with a group of students from Covenant Bible College. It was a life changing experience that greatly impacted the direction I took upon returning. It led me to study International Studies at university with the hope of one day being involved with international development. After graduation, I was fortunate to gain employment with Canadian Foodgrains Bank in Winnipeg, which is an agency that works to address hunger, food security and food justice issues around the world. My time there has been enriching and has allowed me to explore how Christians can respond to hunger.

This past March, I joined a group from my home church, Faith Covenant, on a trip back to Haut Limbe, Haiti. The purpose of the trip was to help with the construction of the new in-patient facility at the local health clinic (Eben-ezer Clinic). Spending time with Dr. Manno (the local Haitian doctor) and seeing the positive impact the clinic is having on the community was inspiring. It reminded me of the impact that community had on me 10 years ago and led me to explore what my next steps would be.

After much consideration, counsel and prayer, I feel that God is leading me to return to Haut Limbe to serve in the community for a longer term. I plan to return this fall for a one year term, to support the work of Eben-ezer Clinic and its partnership with the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada as well as various other ministries in the community. 

This is not a ministry I can do on my own and so I am inviting you to partner with me. I will not be receiving a salary, and as such will need to raise funds to cover living and travel expenses.  I have included a response card that you may fill out and return to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada (PO Box 34025, RPO Fort Richmond, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5T5). All gifts are eligible to receive a tax receipt. Please prayerfully consider how you may be able to support me financially. A portion of the money contributed will go towards supporting Eben-ezer Clinic and the various programs it offers the community.

Here are some ways to get involved in this ministry:
  • Commit to a monthly donation ($25, $50, or other)
  • Support me with a one-time gift
  • Contribute to construction of the in-patient clinic

In addition to financial support, I’m asking for your prayer support as well, as I know while this opportunity will be exciting, there will also be many challenges along the way. Please provide your mailing and email address on the response card enclosed so that I can keep you updated about my experience and share prayer requests.


Janelle Peterson