An Adventure a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
So today was a bit more laid back than the last few days have been. We took the morning off, though most of us spent the “time off” by catching up on all the journals that we have been putting off. Even though we had the morning off, the day was still filled with activity. One of the main food for thought topics has been the role of foreigners in Haitian development, and today was filled with circumstances that fed this topic.
We started our activities by going to the art shop on campus, which is run by a fantastic, older woman named Jackie. There we met some Haitian artists (who thankfully knew some English). We saw beautiful metal art, textiles, and pottery, all made by Haitian artists in a workshop above Jackie’s art shop.
Afterwards, we visited CFFL, which is a school for agriculture, construction, and woodworking. The school had about 66 students, but had plenty of room for expansion. It had computers running AutoCAD for drafting, a workshop with new tools for woodworking, and had lab equipment that many of our biology majors said was newer than Centenary’s. The school was taught by Haitians, and the director was Haitian.
Finally, we visited the hospital in Mirebalais, a town near Cange. The hospital is partnered with The Haitian Government and Zamni Lasanti, and opened about two years ago. It is now one of the largest hospitals in Haiti, and people come from all over the region to have the modern care this facility offers. While we were given the tour by an American woman, all but three of the doctors where Haitians.
I think it is a wonderful thing that so many of these projects are managed by Haitians. Both CFFL and the hospital were funded by millions of dollars in donations, and often these donations were primarily from international companies. I am somewhat surprised that the international aid groups did not insist that a well known figure manage each of these institutions. With Haitians in charge, the entire program feels much more sustainable. Even though they may not have had extensive international education, the Haitians are able to run these programs effectively and efficiently.
The “save the Haitians” mentality that so many groups seem to focus on was successfully avoided by these three projects. The Haitians are easily capable of running their own development projects; they only need money and a bit of training to be succesful. I feel this is often the pitfall that missionary groups stumble into. Haitians don’t need help building houses, or learning more about religion. What they really need is foreign investment, especially into education, and maybe a few people who can teach stay a while, learn he culture, and teach a bit of English.
Congratulations to Lauren and Joanna.
Too bad for Jordan, but maybe he can meet someone while he is in Haiti.
I was able to walk through a peanut butter factory without passing out, which was pretty cool.
Eli is continuing to be inquisitive about all things biology related.
Ericka is always able to help translate our attempts at creole into something the natives can actually understand.
Angie has still continued to be the energizer bunny of the group.
Heather has avoided needing to step back into her well-used boot.
Finally, props to Ashley, Castaralla, Ninjia, and Chantel for always being willing to meet new peoples and have long conversations with them.