The four of us started our trip around 4:00 am to head to Miami International. After a loooong delay at MIA (9 hours) we finally took off for Haiti.
Once we finally landed in Port au Prince, it was so late that we had to change plans and didn’t feel we could reach our original destination in time to bed-down for the night. So we headed straight for a base camp in St. Marc where we lodged at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) compound. We grabbed a quick dinner at a local restaurant and then called it a night. This would be the last time we would see real showers (cold water only) until we got back to Florida. The spicy coleslaw called pickly was delicious & we wished we could eat it everyday, but it was a treat.
The next morning we headed first to TiMonette to see the “Village of Hope” – site of the first drilling run for the Rotary Wells Project (DAF 117) and the Rotary School built with the help of a Rotary Donor Advised Fund grant (DAF 116). Being a day behind schedule we skipped some other site visits in the area and headed to the remote region of Bayonnais where we stayed in a mission house next to the Rotary School and orphanage run by Mont Sinai Ministries (DAF 115). This is also the location where the RPB club helped pay to have water brought in to the school. We used this water during our stay at the mission house. At the mission house we set up a tent for “showers” which was really just a 5-gallon bucket of cold water (thanks to RPB). Each person was provided with a real bed (a definite treat in Haiti!) and mosquito netting draped from the ceiling. A nearby (about 75 yards away) outhouse built by Rotary contributions provided “sanitation”. The outhouse was a big treat for those of us that didn’t want to use the local bushes.
After spending a night in Bayonnais, we separated the group in half. Terri & Lyle headed to the Cap Haitian area to visit other locations for food distribution and to meet partners in our efforts to make sure the food was leading to sustainability. We met with local agronomists, doctors, farmers and businessmen. We stayed that night in Labadie, a short boat ride from Cap Haitian (see attached photos DSC_714b & DSC_715b). We stayed right on the water, but the accommodations were less comfortable than the mission house and the roaches were aggressive (we didn’t have a choice but allow them to share our shower)! We did have toilets though, so that was nice. Unfortunately, the toilets were actually located IN the showers – somewhat awkward in a 3’x3′ space. The food here was spectacular with fresh fish, shrimp & vegetables.
The next morning we took the boat back into town and went on to meet with the local team heading up the well drilling projects and made a site visit at an all-girl orphanage outside of town that is a food distribution site. The orphanage is not through being built, but they were forced out of the home they had been in previously. This location is also where a well was drilled last year. Later in the afternoon we visited a burn clinic in town that will also be a part of the food distribution program. Since many women are burned preparing meals over an open fire, and many mud huts with straw roofs catch fire every year, burns are a huge problem for the poor of Haiti. Later that night we met with the local Rotary Club (see photo DSC_803b), and the Chamber of Commerce. Then it was back to the boat and over to Labadie.
Boat ride back to Cap Haitian. We spent the first part of the day in meetings with more farmers, businessmen and agronomist to review aquaponic, coffee, and cocoa projects. Then we began the trek back to the Bayonnais region. We arrived at the mission house and had a little time with the local children before calling it a night.
Full day with the children in the area and seeing the operation of the orphanage (see photo DSC_447b & 450b). One of our team members continued to provide English language classes every day, even though it was spring break for the kids and no official school was in session. Classes were well-attended and well received. We had some play time with the kids (all was well until a team member dislocated his big toe). We also attended the local market and purchased some rice. charcoal, and vegetables for the orphanage and for our meals (see photos DSC_198c, 200c and 212b). Also available for for sale at the market are the mud cookies locals eat when they can’t afford any other food. These “cookies” contain no nutrition, but make them feel full when they have no real food (see photo DSC_200). You can also find “meat” at the market, but the origin is suspect and it is out for days with no refrigeration, so we decided to pass on this (see photo DSC 221b & 223b) That evening we attended the Rotary Club of Bayonnais meeting.
We headed out very early for a day hike to a very remote village called Gasse. We met with some of the villagers holding at a hilltop where they were holding early morning prayer services for their small children, and then walked the rest of the way to the village together (see photo DSC_297). This is an area where children come from everyday to attend school in Bayonnais. The hike is about 2+ hours each way, and parts are very rocky and steep which there were times we wished we were goats that could steer through the terrain better. We visited with the locals and attended a brief church service with them. We took a short tour of the village where we saw the beautiful natural spring through the village. This natural spring was used as a washing station for laundry, dishes, and bodies as well as a drinking foundation to locals and livestock & some receptacles for waste. We had to be careful around this beautiful spring before beginning the trek back to town.
Very early rise to hit the long road down the mountain and then the long highway ride back to Port au Prince for our flight out. We could not have been more appreciative of the incredible welcome, comfort & local food of Haiti. Thank you to Pastor for being our guide & friend.
This trip will help pave the way for our District project to provide meals to sustainability projects in Haiti.