Monday, April 09, 2007

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.

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