When I first got to Haiti, two things that really popped out to me and I was excited to try was 1. Market and 2. Laundry. Learning to do my own laundry was so exciting and I thought maybe even therapeutic. Whenever I would walk around Haiti I would see ladies doing it so effortlessly, so I should be able to as well, right? A few days into my time here I asked one of the ladies to help teach me to do it, (I asked Stephanie to ask one of the ladies, because I don’t speak creole!) she said yes, she would come over the next day, so I was so excited!
The next morning came and I was ready to do my first load of laundry! The two ladies that came got 4 buckets and filled each one with water which I thought was odd (you just wash and rinse right? wrong) She got me to put my clothes into bucket number 1. She than gave me some soap and taught me how to scrub the whole piece of clothing to make sure that I got completely clean. You do that with every piece of clothing (get wet, scrub, squeeze all the water out) and then you put them all into bucket number 2 which was the rinse bucket and seemingly the last one. So you rinse the clothes by swooshing them around, making sure all of he soap is out and then ringing them out really tight. After this step my hands were kind of sore and super wrinkly, so I got up with my clean clothes and went to hang them up, the ladies kind of laughed, took my clothes from me and poured them into the next bucket of water. All I knew was that my hands were hurting, a lot. So the next bucket she put some powder stuff which smelled really good and told me to kind of do what I did in the first bucket, wash them again, and this will make them smell good. So I did, (get wet, scrub, squeeze all the water out) my hands felt like they were going to fall off. After washing them again, I had to put them in another bucket (bucket number 4) to re rinse them, after I rinsed them it was time to go hang them up (finally).
The ladies that helped me were so patient and such good teachers, they said I was good but would need to keep trying! All I can say after doing laundry by hand for the first time is, it’s not easy, and I have a serious amount of respect for the women who do it every day and don’t complain once. It is so much more than “just doing laundry,” I really think it is an art.
Samantha lives and serves in Haiti as a part of the CompassionCorp program. Find out more about CompassionCorp.