Centenary to Haiti

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Market Day

FullSizeRenderThe day started by rescheduling our meeting with the professor of Vodou history. It all worked out because we were able to get a bit of work done before the bus for the market day arrived. Market day was a great cultural experience. We went to a place where stations are set up to sell produces. When went to one of the biggest markets in the area. Casse is on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It is outside and each individual seller has their own section. They sell everything from freshly chopped meat to hygiene products. You get to see a bit of everything. I didn’t personally enjoy the experience. I avoid grocery shopped and this is like grocery bargaining outside. How much hotter could it have been? I did appreciate the experience though. It allows you to see how much work goes into getting the things you need. The biggest issue I had was that it was so crowded. Everywhere you turned there were large groups of people, some on motorcycles, some with horses, and some with wheel barrows trying to get through very small walk ways. It was similar to lunch time traffic. What was interesting was how people took to the few of us who could speak Kreyol. They gathered around us listening and sometimes helping with miscommunication. It was a great feeling to know that because we were plans and we stood out that there were some willing to help us anyway and appreciate our effort to learn their way of communication. Overall it was an experience similar to Black Friday shopping but it is also what they have to do to survive and have the necessities of everyday life.

We did everything to meet with a man who was willing to talk about Vodou with us. This professor’s main foal was to be sure that we understood the history behind it and the way it works today. He also told us that it is not as bad as people make it out to be. The good and bad parts of it depend on the people operating it. Very different ideas overall than what we often hear about. Today was a very eye-opening culture crash course.

—-Darielle Trotter


Citadelle Laferrière

FullSizeRenderWho would have known that a nearly five hour walk up and down a mountain could be so amazingly inspiring. We are lucky we had the opportunity to venture out to the Citadelle. Before hand, I had no idea that such a historical building was still in place. The Citadelle was built by Haitians who were fresh off a successful rebellion against the French. In preparation for a possible counter-attack from Napoleon, this building was a form of protection. Built in the shape of a ship, it was designed in a way to combat attacks. The Citadelle sat on top of a mountain, stony and proud. Sad to say, this building was never used for battle due to Napoleon never finding his way back. This is why the Citadelle still holds more of the artillery and battle ammunition than any other place in the world. It amazed me that the Citadelle still stands. It took 14 years for it to be completed. Well, somewhat completed because Henry Christophe actually wanted it to go even higher. However, it was never done. But, for the building to remain historically intact, it is an honor for the community and even those abroad. For example, Langston Hughes found inspiration here. This was because it was a building completed by blacks. It literally screams, “Hey, this was completed by colored. We can do!”. It was an honor to visit the Citadelle, so far the best best sight and experience in Haiti.  In total, it cost about $165 for us to visit the Citadel and about five hours of hiking and adventuring time, but without a doubt, every cent and minute was well worth it.

–DeiAnna Hall

Bois Joli—

On the day we went to Bois Joli I do not think that any of us were prepared for the physically draining journey we had ahead of us. People who live in Bois Joli make this journey frequently, because it is their only way to go to the market to buy everyday necessities. They have to make this journey by foot or by horse and either are equally draining.
Bois Joli took roughly two hours to get to and two hours back; it was a total of 30km, which is about 18 miles. The hike had amazing views, but It was not something that I would want to do regularly. When we reached the top we were surprised to find a Flag Day ceremony taking place with many different schools involved. Abel, our translator, said that this is where you see the true Haitian culture. It was a pleasant surprise. We then went to the school, but since all the children were at Flag Day the campus was empty. After having lunch on the porch we went to visit a place where coffee beans were grown from seeds on up and this was something that Zamni Agriculture had made; it was very nice to see all of the progress that has been made.  After we saw how they were seeded we went to a local farm where the people showed us how they grew plants and how they lived.

This experience was very physically challenging, but it was worth the hike seeing all of the children at the top reenacting their independence. We have met so many wonderful people throughout our stay here, and our time in Haiti is not yet over.

—Haley Nidey

Visiting Bassin Zim

IMG_0546Visiting Bassin Zim was a nice and interesting experience. It is about an hour away from Zanmi Lasante, towards the North and closer to the Dominican Republic. To get to Bassin Zim, we drove by the paved highway for about half an hour, and then turned onto a very rocky and bumpy road that lasted for another half hour. When we finally arrived we were swarmed with little boys who wanted to talk, follow, and help us with the tour even though we had already hired a guide. Bassin Zim has a very beautiful waterfall that has a little beach-like area for people to swim and hangout. The water was a bluish color that looked almost turquoise. There was people hanging out in front of the water where some people were playing the drums. Some people even washed their clothes in the water then jumped into swim. It is also undergoing improvements to the site so they can make it more welcoming for tourists. For example, they built a shed for people to sit under, and they built a building for bathrooms.

So after seeing the waterfall we went up the stairs on the side of the waterfall to see the caves. We first saw the small cave, then went up higher to see the larger cave. They both had carvings from the Tianos. The larger cave had an opening in the back that was very dark, and is rumored that it leads to a small town that is four hours away. Secondly, the caves are a big deal because people come to preform Vodou.

When we reach the top of the waterfall, the little boys jumped off the cliff into the top pool of the waterfall. The water was deep and the current looked strong, but it didn’t phase them and they enjoyed themselves. So, we then went back down to the bottom waterfall to enjoy the water and area ourselves!

—-Shannon Hayes

Zanmi Lasante’s Fair

FullSizeRenderLast Sunday and Monday, Victoria and Marie Flore put on a fair here at Zanmi Lasante. It was their first time doing it and it was a great success. On Sunday there were different tables set out with vendors and the crafts. There were many beautiful paintings, bracelets, figurines, purses, hats, jewelry, and fruits. It was a sight to see. It gave the people of Cange a chance to sell, shop, and overall just have a great time. We all bought souvenirs to bring back to our families. Later that night a RaRa band played. There were guys who played music, and people danced and followed as they paraded around the campus. Everyone had a great time. The best part of the day was a fashion show. Victoria was able to showcase the fashion line she created. It was very beautiful and I think everyone enjoyed it.

The next day was Flag Day. After breakfast a parade was set to start. A line of children ranging in ages from 6-17 were marching, playing instruments, and showing pride in their country. They marched up and down Cange. It was awesome to see how excited they were. Then the drill team did a performance on the soccer field, presenting the flag. It was quite entertaining. Overall, the weekend was very fun.

—Diogenee Osborne

Taino Carvings

We have had some internet trouble. Don’t expect regular access until tomorrow morning. Other than that, nou pa gen pwoblem. Here’s a picture carved by the Taino before Columbus arrived to keep you until we can post a longer update. 

Three Days or Three weeks? 

If you were to walk in to our rooms right now, by looking at us, you would think that we had been in Haiti for three weeks. But, not without good reason. It has been a very busy first few days. And I don’t think we would have had it any other way. 

Once we finally got to Haiti, we left Port-au-Prince as quickly as possible in order to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city due to a one day trip to Haiti by the French president. We then got to Cange and the Zamni Lasante campus, where we all could relax. 

The campus is beautiful. Full of trees and life. There are people walking to and from different places, each stopping every once in a while to greet an old friend. There are children of different ages all going to school. And even as you sit in the dorms, you can hear them playing in the distance. The health facility is great, the people are nice, and there’s a sense of peace that radiates from the walls here. It is new, good type of infection that spreads from person to person and brings happiness. 

On Wednesday, our first big stop was the new, state of the art hospital in Mirebalais. It was made up of many different wards and provided a range of services to patients, such as ophthalmology, oncology, obstetrics, and gynecology. It is even equipped with its own on site pharmacy. The hospital is remarkable, because it is similar to hospitals that we have in America, except it runs completely on solar power. I was surprised to see how smoothly it ran, because you can do everything you need to do in one stop. 

After that was the trip to CFFL, the agricultural school in Corporant. This place is also amazing, because it spends time teaching the Haitian people how to do a number of different things that would allow them to support their families. Students there can learn about woodworking, technology, and agriculture. The main portion of the school aims to teach people how to farm more effectively and how to be able to supply food for themselves and the country. The programs are very hands-on and include projects that must be completed in a community that the student is part of, so that this can start to be implemented through all of Haiti. 

Wednesday was fun, but Thursday was was even better. On Thursday we left Cange again to go back to the city. Port-au-Prince, while still pretty busy, had died down from the the visit of the French president and was now ours for the taking. Thursday afternoon we got to meet Mario Joseph, one of the most prominent human rights lawyers in Haiti. He is currently working on a case to sue the UN for bringing cholera to Haiti by the UN peacekeepers and has been more productive that anyone thought he would be. This man is so iconic, because he stands up for those who do not have the means to do so themselves. He works hard for his country to protect their basic human rights. 

After meeting such an important figure in Haiti and pondering the Haitian government and politics, letting loose a little was much needed. So, a day at the Carribe hotel resort and a night on the town it was! We went to Carribe, where we ate lunch and sat under the palm trees by the pool. It is a very nice place that was not too far from the poor parts of the city. The contrast and close proximity was pretty eye opening. 

We then went to RAM, which is a perfect blend of socializing, dancing, and witnessing Haitian culture. We all got out on the dance floor, even Dr. Parker who “doesn’t dance”. I guess the vodou spirits are stronger than we thought. It was a place that us blan could fit in and have fun with the people of Haiti. 

So, yes, it’s true that we seem to have been there for three weeks and have only been here for three days. But, we have already seen so much of the Haitian culture. From the poor regions to the rich regions and much in between. After spending the rest of the day relaxing and getting some good rest, I’m sure we will all be up for more of this country soon. 

–Rebecca Thompson

We are back in Cange.


We just returned to Cange safe and sound after two incredibly eventful days. Politics, history, music, food, a trip to the grocery store, and lunch at a luxury resort overlooking the city. More to come. I just wanted to let you know that we’re back.

A trip to Port-au-Prince to learn about human rights.

You may not have heard of Mario Joseph; however, his work might transform Haiti and aid work around the world. Mario believes that development requires human rights. People need to have safe, secure, legal control over their property in order to improve their lives. They need to be free from sexual assault and know that their attackers will be prosecuted. Mario Joseph works at the grassroots level to help Haitians know their rights and find ways to protect them.

He brought a successful case against the Haitian government for the Raboteau massacre in 1994. He launched a suit against the UN because they brought cholera to Haiti. He seeks legal protections for women who live in tent cities and other vulnerable populations. And Mario has agreed to meet with us to discuss his work.

Here’s a short video about some of Mario Joseph’s work with Partners in Health in Hinch. http://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=803095403120052

Since we’re in Port-au-Prince, we won’t have regular internet access. We may not be in contact for a couple of days.

Partners with the Poor

DSC07792We visited the University Hospital in Mirebalais. This hospital is ambitious. Built after the earthquake, it required a joint effort from Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante and the Haitian government. We saw a fully functioning, modern hospital. They have oncology, neonatal units, a separate waiting room so women can talk with doctors privately, solar panels, and an incinerator to dispose of waste. During the day, the hospital is run by solar panels. The partnership with the Haitian government is meant to strengthen a government weakened by years a corruption, dictatorship, and ineffective aid. Zanmi Lasante has a larger budget than the health ministry. It’s a teaching hospital, training Haitian doctors. At the moment, they cannot find enough trained doctors and nurses who want to live a Mirebalais. Port-au-Prince is more attractive to many people. Haitians haven’t regarded nursing as a profession. Zanmi Lasante is trying to change this.

Afterwards, we visited CFFL and the Nurimamba factory. Malnutrition is wideDSC07795spread in Haiti, partially as a result of a US policy towards Haiti. CFFL proposes to change this by offering modern, hands-on agricultural training and support to Haitians. Students learn about irrigation, treating disease, and taking care of their soil. They can produce food in both the rainy and the dry seasons and double their yields. They focus on subsitance crops–crops they can eat–rather than cash crops for export. Haitians fought hard for independence and they don’t intend to give up control of their communities. . The Nurimamba factory creates nutritionally enhanced peanut butter which Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante uses to treat malnutrition in children. The treatment works and they buy the peanuts from local farmers, helping to feed families so their children don’t require treatment. When a farmer struggles to produce edible peanuts, CFFL helps them with training and supplies. This helps the farmer and it helps ensure quality Nurimamba.

All of this is a result of the ethical training Zamni Lasante uses in every program. As Reginald explained, they teach that individuals cannot develop alone. If one Haitian has a nice house and a nice car, but doesn’t care about other people and doesn’t help the community, this isn’t development. We must raise the whole community together. This isn’t charity. They partner with the poor.

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