The sun kisses her face as she awakes to the mundane crow of a rooster. She swallows a deep breath of stale air and stands to her callused feet thanking God for the day. Her feet know that they will journey across miles of dirt paths today; fresh water is to be found and carried, food is to be prepared and children are to be cared for. Today, is just another day that will most likely wear the same wardrobe as yesterday and it’s breath will escort her into another day, that will replicate… today.
Sister Jarmen Gafoi, as she is known in the church, is an elderly widow who has three children, fourteen grandchildren and more than four great-grand children. She lost her husband in 1982 due to illness and has continued to live as a single mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Like many in Haiti, her home was destroyed on January 12, 2010 when the earthquake robbed humanity of their lives and homes in the country. She praises God that not one person in her family was injured. Sister Jarmen is a member of the Church in a village called Calabasse. She and the pastor were proud to tell us that she is the “floor sweeper” in the church. The pastor also joyfully explained that she has a huge heart, is filled with compassion and loves to serve all people living in the village.
As we stood on a pile of gravel that decorated the remnants of the home’s foundation, we asked her where she slept at night. She told us that she and the children stay with some friends close by, but that they dream about being able to sleep on their own floor again. Her gregarious smile spoke loudly, a selfless humility that was unique. She asked us for nothing; she just told us her story.