Daughter of Vodou

A small creek and a field with tall grass but separates Katiana’s house from the Summits school in Guindette-Sarazin. Behind her house is a grove of banana trees, her father has just planted cassava and plantains. It’s the rainy season, and there are many mosquitos here.

In a second wooden house, much like the one where she and her younger sister sleep but bigger, her father is finishing with a client. When the client walks out, he has a list of things to buy, and what to do with them to make sure what he asked for happens. When Katiana’s father walks out, he slurs a bit of his words while reminding the client what to do, and when to come back. He’s been drinking Kleren, a pure alcohol made from sugar cane.

On Nov. 1 and 2 of last week, Haiti celebrated Fèt Gede, gathering at cemeteries to pay tribute to their ancestors. It was busy at Katiana’s house, with clients in and out, and a big celebration for the occasion. Dancing to twoubadou, dressed in white and purple, the skull of one passed before held over the palms of the living.

Katiana is the daughter of the community Vodou priest. He is also a farmer. Her mother sells produce from their garden in the market. But Katiana, a 6th grader in the Summits school of Guindette-Sarazin, has hopes of being an engineer so that she can “build houses for [her] parents, and [her] community.”

In Katiana’s family, death is another lwa or spirit, a door that marks our passage in life. But even while overcome by Spirit, Katiana’s father talks mostly of his love for his daughter. His tone is impassioned. It’s a dream that doesn’t necessarily rely on Rasin Ginen: the hope that she receives an education, so that she can become what wants to speak through her.

With your support, you can help give an education: www.summits.org