Monday, April 09, 2007

Day Four of First Visit to Haiti

March 21, 2007 Maniche, Haiti

…We drove to a remote spot where there were a few shacks on the mountainside
and walked to a meeting area where the members of the organization called
ADZK were singing and clapping as loud as they could…I took pictures of the
kids again with the digital camera and then let them look at them on the
screen. It seems to be a good way to interact after we get past "what is
your name?" and "mwen pa pale Kreyol" [I don't speak Creole].  I wonder how
many of these kids have seen their picture before.  Lambi funded and trained
the group for a pig breeding project.  They had 25 new piglets so far.  A
woman said, "Pigs allow us to live, that is the way we take care of our kids
and all of our needs."… There are good things happening in Haiti.

Day Two of First Visit to Haiti

March 19, 2007 Chato Haiti

Today we visited a peasant organization that called themselves Konbit 2004.
When we drove to the top of the hillside, there was already a large circle
of people sitting beneath the semicircle of palm trees singing and clapping.
A woman brought a thermos of coffee and basket of bread for us to eat.  The
coffee was so sweet I think I became a diabetic after one sip.  We sat and
listened to the members of the organization describe their group's history
as we slurped coconut milk out of coconuts that had given to us.  A man
said, "We wanted to organize and work together in such a way that we could
improve the living conditions of our group."  It was very powerful to hear
the men and women of the group speak about how their lives had changed after
the microcredit and the cistern  and reforestation project…We drove to see
one of the cisterns and the tree seedling nursery and the man I was sitting
next to in the back seat didn't know how to open a car door.  This was a
poignant reminder of how different our existences are on this earth.  One
woman summed up everyone's comments about the projects stating "It [the loan
fund] helped us send our kids to school and feed them, the cistern allows us
to have time because we no longer have to walk 2 hrs to get water."  The
group estimated that because of the micro-loan project around 100 more
children were able to go to school.

First Visit to Haiti

By Matt Kaiser

I was able to visit Haiti for the first time in March to visit a few of the
organizations Lambi Fund works with in the Les Cayes area.  It is hard for
me to imagine what daily life is like under the impoverished conditions of
Haiti, but that is not the story here.  One can read a newspaper to keep up
with the bad news in Haiti.  When I boarded the plane to leave Haiti, I left
with a deeper respect for the Haitian people, confidence that the work Lambi
Fund does truly empowers people to improve lives, and hope that this work
and its effects will continue to spread in Haiti.

The following are a few excerpts from a journal I kept during our visit in March:

March 18, 2007 Camp Perrin, Haiti

…the flight from Miami took only an hour and a half.  It's like the
newspaper headlines I've read about Haiti have come to life, like I just
jumped into the photograph of Port-au-Prince that was in the NY Times' last
article about the UN in Haiti. As we left the city, the mountainous
countryside came into a panoramic view that was absolutely gorgeous. Green
mountains falling into the sea that reflected all shades of blue.  Then I
noticed that parts of some of the mountains were missing where abrupt white
cliffs interrupted the continuity of the green hills. These were the sites
of mudslides that washed away Haitian's fields and homes.  This was my first
glimpse at the deforestation I've read and heard so much about…The drive
from the airport to where we are staying is unreal.  The sights cannot be
fully captured by words.  The road was an endless stream of motorbikes,
bicycles, children, women on their way back from the market, chickens,
goats, mules, and the occasional tap tap, a small pickup used for public
transportation with people clinging to all sides. Despite all I've read
about this country and causes of poverty, it's still hard to understand how
something like this could happen. I'm looking forward to visiting projects
tomorrow and hearing the people's stories of good things happening here.