Sunday in Haiti is a day of rest… that is unless you are the desperately poor and shovel sand into Mack trucks for a living … for about $1 a day…that is if there is a demand for sand. The trucks were heard in the distance really early this morning…then the church bells began to ring at 6:30am. The church in Mon Lopital fell during the earthquake so they hung their church bell in a tree… it still tolls loudly. We all woke (with the exception of Ben… or as Pancha calls him “Sleeping Beauty”) and we prepped for church. As is the norm when we went to the area where they have hold mass – we had the seats of honor… right up front. The mass was about an hour and forty minutes… all in Kryeol. At the end of mass Father Roosevelt introduced us and as this is a new village and we are just building a relationship with these people it was important to be there to talk to the people. Pancha actually went up and talked to the people about out history, purpose and project in Kryeol. It was definitely an icebreaker. He also told them about our goat project and outlined what we have done in Haiti over the past five years.
Interesting enough we learned that people from Port au Prince come up to Mon Lopital and steal their goats so they were afraid if we started this goat project the goats would be stolen. They asked us if we could substitute pigs for the goats. Well we did some checking and actually pigs are a great idea. First we can buy them for the same price as goats so the investment is no greater than originally estimated. HOWEVER the people told us that in a litter pigs have around 6 – 8 piglets. To repay us for the microloan that they will take half of their first liter and PAY IT FORWARD to the next family. So our first eight sets of pigs given to eight families will result in 16 families having pigs in a couple months… and 24 families in ___ months and 32 families in ___ months and so on and so forth. They actually told us about paying it forward before we had to go into a deep discussion about our expectation…. They knew about us, our programs and they GOT it… we were so excited. They even told us they would send us updates and photos by email… I usually have to beg for this stuff. I think we are home. Or as Father Roosevelt told us… this is your home …
We also had a discussion with the people about the 22 solar lights we had brought with us to light the village. There is no electricity here so it is really dark at night in their homes and of course if you want to light your home you burn charcoal made from trees… which are desperately needed to keep the land from eroding during the rainy season. We showed them the various styles of solar lights and also discussed how they are used. I have never seen faces light up (no pun intended) like this. They told us this would be such a gift…the concept an idea was received so well and make life so much better for their village. We also told them that we were charging the lights (on the roof all day today in the direct Haitian Sun) and we would meet with them to teach about light use and maintenance in the next few days. We also mentioned that this was the first batch of lights and if successfully more would be on the way. I was so amazed by the responsiveness. I have worked here for a long time and this was the most receptive village I have ever dealt with. They are so poor that the people of Port au Prince wanted nothing to do with them and referred to them as “mountain people” and of course tried to come up and steal from them. I can’t wait to deliver the lights and go to market on Wednesday to buy the pigs for delivery on Thursday. Father told us we would rent a tap tap to go to the market and also bring the pigs back with us… now that is a photo op!
So …like I said Sunday is a down day but all of this went on before noon. We also met and discussed the needs of the community. There are no markets up here… they have to go over an hour down the most challenging hill just to buy food…. There are no bakeries up here… again usually a village has at least one baker…. Once you get here…. You better have your provisions. We were told that there was a vacant building that could be provided to us to open a market … it would not only save time and money used to travel to PAP for provisions… it would create jobs and also be a way to slowly raise funds to further development in the village. So we all walked up the hill to the building… concrete walls, good ventilation, and iron doors that locked. It needs a bit of fixing up …shelves,,, racks, and things like that but other than that it is good to go right now. We all met as a team and it’s on our to-do list as our next project. It also have another side room that we are thinking about opening a bakery in… with the use of a rocket oven…. But more about that later.
So here I sit on the roof of the rectory looking out over PAP as the sun sets…. Listing to music in the distance. I am listening to children chant and thinking about the needs and the possibilities of this village. Tomorrow is busy we plan to get up with the roosters (actually a bit later as they start up about 4am) and go into Riviera Froide to do a check-up on our school, we also plan to spend an hour or so at The Sisters of Charity Orphanage to volunteer with the children. Now this is not part of our SIFE mission but something we have done for the past three trips and now something that new students want to also experience and basically just the right thing to do. Its one of those events that is life changing….and something that I feel really teaches our American students empathy and compassion. We also plan to go shopping for Ragaman and Haitian Coffee for a great fundraiser Pancha thought of. We would like to stop at the artisan village and if we can I want to show them ECKO Depot.. .the Home Depot of Haiti….just because. I think there is more we want to do…. In other words its going to be one long day…. I am excited.
So right now I am prepping for Pictionary… Pancha beat the pants off all of us last night in UNO… what a hustler… what-the-what….