A lot has happened since our last post, so I will give a quick summary here. From Port-au-Prince, we headed up highway 1 on the west side of the country. About 6 hours later we arrived in the northern city of Cap Haitian, the second largest city in Haiti behind Port-au-Prince. It is a beautiful place, right on the water with much cooler temperatures and a slower place. This is the home of our wonderful trainer, Lovely, and she rode with us back to Cap Haitian.
We visited with two Art of Living trainers that are based in Cap and learned about where their work is now, what they are trying to
accomplish and what they hope to do in the coming months. We will see how we might be able to get involved with their work in Cite Soleil as our Port-au-Prince team may be able to help with follow-ups in the next few months. They recently held a training for about 80 people and
have been able to institute a wide range of classes, from sexual health and hygiene to gardening and entrepreneurship.
We also met with a children’s program run by Lovely and a cohort of other teachers in Cap. They work with roughly 90 children and do everything from meditation to help with homework and lessons on how they will grow up to be incredible adults who will change the future
of Haiti. We were welcomed to their center with singing and other performances and we spoke with them (through our wonderful driver, translator, logistical expert and life-saver Andre) about the beautiful opportunities they are being given by their dedicated teachers. We then handed out the magnificent handmade dollies, blankets, teddy bears lovingly crafted by the Pacific Palisades, CA Dollies Making a Difference, as well as last minute donated matchbox cars and trucks. Thank goodness we were prepared as the 60 children expected mushroomed into over 100!
From there we drove down the center of the country to Milot to visit the hospital where Lovely had her heart surgery about a year ago via the near impossible circumstances triggered by our awareness campaign on the 2nd anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. If you don’t know about the details of this story, you must ask Andrea for she played a huge role in the whole thing coming together. It is beautiful and has to be the subject of an upcoming post.
From Milot we continued to Hinche and beyond to Pandiassou in the central plateau. It is a truly spectacular part of the country with rolling hills and rivers meandering between lush green valleys. It is here, though, that it is clear how deforested the country is. Hills that were clearly once forests are now grasslands. The drive was also remembered for its rough and tumble road. How Andre’s car did not break in two or submerge in one of the many rivers we crossed had to be a miracle. On one river (of which we have photo evidence) the river came to about 3 inches below the passenger windows of his Toyota 4Runner.
In Pandiassou, we visited the Brothers and Sisters of the Incarnation. Here there is a home for roughly 150 kids (mostly girls) and a school for over 220 which includes children from the surrounding neighborhood. Girls in the home formerly lived on the streets of Port-au-Prince and are given an incredibly safe and loving environment at the Welcome Center. Girls will stay with the program through high school and will be under the care of the sisters all the way through college. Sister Rosana was proud to tell us that one of their graduates just finished her studies to become an engineer. The sisters and brothers also run a huge agricultural program and a nutrition center. When we arrived, some of the older girls were in the main room studying under the waning light coming through one of the windows. We were happy to provide the home with 8 solar lights from Waka Waka (one for each of the 8 groups of children) since their access to electricity was so
sporadic. It was a great visit and we hope to see them again in the future.
From Sister Emmanuel, we also learned that the sisters are also doing a micro-loan system with goats! Talk about thinking outside the box. Families are selected based on their ability to protect the goats. These families are given a male and female goat and are then asked to give two goats back to the program once their goats have kids. It is a great head start for a family that now has fresh milk every day. In addition, the sisters run 13 nutritional centers for women and children that provide a necessary, reliable and vitamin packed source of food. To learn about what the religious of the Incarnation are doing in Port-au-Prince with the boys who had been living on the streets, please refer to the blog from June 7th.
From Pandiassou, we headed to Cange, home of Partners in Health, and met with Annie
McDonough, external relations coordinator for PIH, who gave us an extensive tour of the campus followed by a trip to Mirebalais to visit the brand new state of the art hospital there. Many of the duties performed by the hospital in Conge will be moved a half hour down the road to Mirebalais which is now the world’s largest hospital run on solar energy. It is a beautiful facility and will be opening its doors to patients this year.
We are now in Leogane, about an hour outside of Port-au-Prince, visiting CODEP, a massive reforestation program that has been active here for nearly 20 years. BUT, this update has gone on long enough!
Further details about CODEP in the next post. Feel free to email Dan@AidStillRequired.org with questions, comments, ideas, and other positive thoughts!