Salut! Hello again. Oliver and I are having a fun, productive, safe time in Haiti.
On Wednesday, Oliver, Bastia, and I drove just past Hinche to visit a CASEC member. In 2018, CRDF hosted 10 CASEC members for a Leadership and Nonprofit Development workshop in Appleton, WI. CASEC members are elected officials in Haiti, similar to our own county executive. When they came to the US sponsored by the Haitian government, we took them to American schools, visited with our own municipal leaders, talked with nonprofit leaders, visited the farm market, and led sessions on development work. It was a huge experience for the visitors and helped encourage our capacity as an organization to grow.
One official we met was eager to meet with us again and share about his community. He is about halfway through his term and has about 16,000 people in his section.
He took us to the local market (4-5 small stands selling veggies and pasta bought at a larger market), a community corn grinder, a school, and a water treatment center. There is a committee for both the corn grinder and the water treatment center. It seems to be working fine for the grinder—families come, pay a little to grind, and then the group has a small funding source to replace parts on the grinder. Water is a more difficult issue.
There are 3 improved water sources for the community. The one we saw relied on a spring from the mountain, however, there have been issues in terms of quantity of water as well as ability to get water through the pipes down the mountain. Families are reluctant to pay for the water as they see it as a community resource belonging to everyone. To top it all off, World Vision built a small room on the treatment facility, however, the committee is uncertain as to whether the water is being cleaned. We took a look inside and the system does not seem to be working. World Vision has indicated they are unwilling to come and make repairs. World Vision also provided the corn grinder. So, we have two community resources, a simple one that is working well and a complex one that is not serving the community.
The official was in good spirits though as he showed us around his community. We asked him what was the most impactful part of his trip to America. He said the number one takeaway was that you cannot always wait for the government to do something, sometimes you need to be the one to step up and make the change. That is a good, and worthwhile takeaway. Since the CASEC visit to the US, he has worked to bring the community together to see what they can do to address their own needs. He has working to address challenges of water, crop failure, and infrastructure through asset-based community development practices learned through our workshop.
With this in mind, we returned to Caneille to have a meeting with the teaching staff. CRDF is working to bring the teachers and staff of L’ecole de la Grace to Appleton, WI for a similar workshop. Our teachers are serving their community and by investing in them, they can make a greater difference.
We told them about Appleton and discussed ways to spend their time. We will of course visit many schools, but there was also a request to go to a zoo so they can better teach about animals, to visit the library, and one very hopeful request to see a beach. The teachers are excited, but nervous about the airplane ride and the temperature.
Our goal right now is to bring them in mid-May. However, we are still working to get them Visas (they all have passports in process) from the US Embassy. We are also watching the COVID-19 situation carefully. We’ll post as we have more updates.
Today, March 12, Oliver and I took a walk through the community. We stopped by many families I had interviewed for the community survey two years ago. We had some great conversations about people’s children and had the honor of meeting a newborn baby girl. We also saw families making charcoal and one household was even smoothing lumber in preparation for building a new house.
I knew, cher amies, that we all have many concerns regarding the state of the world right now. But I want to encourage you that there is real work being done in this region of Haiti on a community level. Many Haitians have faced hardship their entire lives and they find a way to keep building and moving forward. It’s one of the most beautiful and most welcoming places I’ve traveled to and I want to say thank you for the role you’ve played over the last fourteen years of this journey. We can overcome many things together.