The Value of a Road….
Roads are things we drive on and usually take for granted. They help us get from here to there. We expect them to be in good repair and free from danger, except for icy or wet spots, crazy drivers and the occasional animal on the loose. Right??
Well, not so here. Our “national highway” that takes us to PAP was is such a state that it took us 3½ hours to get to PAP, 75 miles away (21 mph). The government is making great efforts to improve the roads so now we can make it in 2½ hours (30 mph)!!!
Now, with the protests over the high cost of foods (Aba lavi cher …Down with expensive cost of living) the roads have been blocked in numerous places. The first effect was that people couldn’t get to where they needed to go. Staff couldn’t get home or to work. We had about 10 staff members who were not able to make it in at all last week. But at the same time, people who were sick couldn’t get in to the hospital…making it a light work week for those of us here. Students weren’t able to come to school. Matthew’s class of 35 was down to 10 kids so the day’s lessons were put on hold and the teacher just reviewed with those who were there.
The next effect was that there was a shortage of things since the trucks bringing stuff couldn’t get through the road; things such as fuel, bottled drinking water, propane gas for our refrigerators (for vaccines, meds and personal use) and items to be sold in the market. There is a drinking water truck that comes from Pt. Goave (about 1 hr from here) a couple of times a week that fills up our 5 gallon drinking water bottles (the kind you see upside down on water coolers). If we miss the truck we go 30 minutes down the road and fill up our bottles at a water purification shop. The clinic now goes through about 15 of these bottles a week. By Friday all of our bottles were empty so we start considering our options: start treating the well water with bleach (4 drops per gallon), boiling water (using the scarce propane) or buying water at twice the price from a shop here in FDN.
Electricity at the clinic is provided by solar panels with an inverter and a big diesel generator. Also, the water for general use is pumped from our well using electricity from the generator. By midweek, all our diesel was finished and we had heard that the gas stations weren’t selling any. No electricity = no lab equipment, no cash register to record the money coming in, no computers to record the patient records and do other work…
God is very good! The owner of the local gas station was willing to sell 4 drums of diesel to Felix (just over 200 gallons) and also had propane tanks at a very reasonable price to sell. Today Felix also decided to buy the drinking water there even though the price was high. So we are set for electricity, refrigeration, household water and drinking water.
At the same time, some things were in overabundance. Things produced here that usually are sent to PAP to be sold were heaping up. It is now mango season and everywhere you look people are desperate to sell their crops of mangos before they spoil. Also, there is plenty of corn that needs to go somewhere else!
Friday afternoon the roads were opened up by the protesters, at least for the weekend. People were buying up everything they could in the market to send to PAP. Trucks were seen loaded with fruits and vegetables and sacks of charcoal for cooking on their way to PAP. We were able to go to Aquin for Rotary and were able to see all the places that had been blocked with old cars, piles of rocks or burning tires. People are trying to stock up on things in case the protests begin again on Monday. We are well and appreciate your thoughts and prayers.