Sunday, August 22, 2010

Le Bourgne, Jack, and Wisnell

Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures in Le Bourgne...sometimes I feel out of place being the only person walking around with a camera! This is a "tap tap" - a common form of public transportation. They are modified pickup trucks, and usually very colorfully decorated - very reminiscent of how trucks were elaborately painted in India and Nepal. Unlike there, most here in Haiti have Christian imagery and/or phrases. (The books in the pictures are bibles, one portrays Mark and the other Romans)

Le Bourgne is a beautiful but poor town by the ocean. There is a beautiful beach just 30 minutes away by tap-tap. Erinold (an employee of SOIL, I earlier misspelled his name as Arinol) has some family there, so we usually ate meals with them and stayed in an apartment SOIL owns. A family lives on the first floor of this apartment, and on the second floor there are two rooms, sparsely furnished. The three of us stayed in these, and there was no electricity to have a fan so it was unbearably hot. Jack and I decided to move our bed (we had to share a bed!) to the roof where it is cool and there's a nice breeze. Wisnell also moved his mattress up there and LOVED it. He was so excited to be sleeping up there! I am amazed at how people here get used to sleeping in the heat, but that doesn't mean they like! Jack and I actually got cold!! - probably the only time I'll ever be cold here in Haiti. It was great going to sleep under the stars, and waking up to the morning view from the roof. Rooftops are a big thing here, and the place I stay at in Cap Haitien also has a great rooftop with a garden and a compost pile. I will put up pictures on that and the projects I've done around the house in a later post!

We went to Le Bourne to meet with the mayor who is a big supporter of SOIL. Jack wanted to talk to him about his ideas (more on that later). Unfortunately, the mayor was actually down in Cap Haitien so it was ironic that we swapped places. It was a fun trip, and we met a lot of people there, including a woman named Rosie who lived in Jamaca for 20 years but moved back to Haiti to help improve it. We visited with her, and saw her place outfitted with a small solar panel, rainwater collection, food gardens, banana trees, and coconut trees. We ate coconuts hacked open at the top with a machete. They were really good. I'd never eaten the coconut "meat" straight itself before - it was tasty!

Also, a little about Jack and Wisnell. Jack is finishing up his last year of undergraduate study at Notre Dame. His professor is also a priest who has lived in Haiti (crazy huh) and so he is doing research with that priest for SOIL, checking for the presence of helmunth eggs in the compost. He's applying to medical school and wants to live in Haiti after that and set up a clinic, school, and ecological haven. His parents and one sibling are on board and are considering moving out here with him! Jack and I were all excited that I could come out and help work on setting up composting, a fish pond, gardens, greywater treatment, and so on. He's shooting to buy 5-10 acres of land in or near Le Bourgne (he loves the town), so he's making up plans and figuring out how much he'll need to fundraise over the next few years. It is relatively cheap to start something like this in Haiti so I'm confident he'll be able to do it! He's also read Ghandi and likes his emphasis on self-supporting villages and enterprises so we were dreaming about what that could be like. Maybe I'll do an official project through graduate school with him and his project!!

Wisnell is a student and also works part-time for SOIL. He works with children and creative projects to teach about environmental topics, like a "trash to art" project. In the future he wants to continue working on such projects, and to be active in helping poorer people to communicate with each other and work together to build a better future for themselves, and to try to encourage people from the upper classes to build relationships with poorer folks, too. His English is much better than my Creole, and it's fun to work with him on helping each other learn. His younger brother Rosemond won Haiti's version of "American Idol" and now lives in Palo Alto, CA and travels to LA to record music. Wisnell was very happy when I told him I would love to visit Rosemond next time I go out to visit my brother in the Bay Area!

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