Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year and the Haiti update begins

I know you're all waiting for photos of my recent trip to Haiti, so here are a few teasers. I have 860 images to go through, so be patient. Also, a lot of information to sort out.
For those who don't know the story, I accepted the challenge, so to speak, from a fellow student at NHTS, Susan Smith, to go with her to document some of the problems faced by the people of the Central Plateau of Haiti. The main focus is clean water - learn more at the website. I knew that the conditions were primitive, but I was not prepared. Most people, on their first trip out of the country, would not pick Haiti, I believe. But that is what I did. Got my passport, shots and anti-Malaria meds, and a high efficiency filtering water bottle so that I could safely drink the water.
We left Portland a bit before 10PM on December 14th and arrived, after 2 plane changes and many security checks, in Port au Prince a little after noon on the 15th. I'd like to say I got to sleep on the long leg of the trip, but a crying baby didn't allow me that luxury.
We were picked up at the airport by Mark, an agronomist who works with MPP and is a Presbyterian missionary.
We had an over-priced lunch in a restaurant that had guards in the parking lot with rifles, and then headed out on the long trek to Hinche. These are some common scenes along the road.
In the photo above, notice the people in the upper part of the truck. I wonder how they keep so many vehicles on the road - they are all very over loaded.
We stopped about half way to our destination for something cold to drink. This is a community which has some electricity because it is located below the dam on Lake Peligre, so that is the only reason we got cold pop.
We took the time to briefly stop at Zanmi Lasante, Paul Farmer's Partners in Health complex in Cange. We were able to speak with the man in charge of their water resource projects in that area, but everyone else had gone home for the day. We hoped to get back, but just not enough time!
The clinic in Cange is quite large and very well kept. We saw many people who were staying there waiting to be seen the next day.
For some good news about AIDS in Haiti, go here.

This is the community of Cange, along the "highway". Small concentrations of dwellings line the roads, but there are trails to many more that are located away from the road. The people walk, sometimes for miles, to fill their buckets with water at the wells. The water is much better than that they would get from an uncapped spring or the streams in the area. After a long drive, and well after dark, we arrived at the MPP compound at Papaye. Needless to say, we were tired! The MPP cooks had some food waiting for us, thank goodness. Just some Haitian bread and Laughing Cow cheese, but it was good!! We headed for bed early!
Up the next morning, I took a few photos of the complex.
This is where the MPP representatives have quarterly 2 day meetings and a big get together yearly for 5 days to evaluate the year's progress and make plans for the next year. When we left, they were just beginning the big meeting.
This is our home-sweet-home. Just a plain cement block building. There is very little built with wood because the country has been so deforested.
Here is a common breakfast. Fresh roasted Haitian coffee, small loaves of Haitian bread, yummy fresh peanut butter, bananas right off the tree and a cracker like thing which I was told was made from yucca - it was quite good, I thought.This is one of the MPP workers roasting something - I'm not sure what. Everything is done over a fire, which is why there is are no trees in the mountains!!
And these guys are juicing grapefruits for our breakfast. All that work for just a little juice for us. On the far right, you can barely see a guy using a huge mortar/pestle to grind some sort of a grain. The MPP complex has a series of reservoirs to contain the rain water in the wet season (roughly June through October) which is used for irrigating the vegetables. They also contain Tilapia fish to help control the mosquitoes. More later..............

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