|View of the houses in the mountainside|
and Haitians loading up on a truck
|Children excited to see us as we hiked up to the Citadel on 12/31|
Throughout the week we visited the several of our partners. On Friday, it was Let Agogo with Ewaldy Estil from Heifer International. Heifer is an organization that aids agriculture communities in other countries where poverty is rampant. They provide community members with animals and in return, they must "pass on" the animals first offspring to another community member in a ceremony called "passing on the gift." Unfortunately, we did not get to see this ceremony, but the previous years class happened to be there for it. I do not know if this is true for all Heifer projects, but in this community in Haiti, the members are required to give one gallon of milk to Let Agogo each day. Let Agogo uses that milk to create a milk product that has a very long shelf life and does not require refrigeration to be used in children's school lunches. We really got an idea of what Heifer was doing for the community. We also had out first experience interacting with the children that lived nearby. I was a bit nervous to interact with them and kind of hung back and took pictures. I'm not great with kids to begin with, not to mention the complete language barrier. This, of course, changed.
|At UNAF, making faces at us from|
outside the bus
|On our way up the mountains|
to the hotel
|Students showing us a Level-A|
|UNAF students welcomed us with their president, Gedeon Eugene|
|Caroline and me with some of the UNAF students|
|Me, Moriah, Erica, Maddie, Casey, Kyrsten, and Kim at UNAF|
|Purdue University and Universite do Antenor Firmin|
|Alex (center) and two other children at the orphanage|
After UNAF, we went to an orphanage. It was honestly overwhelming at first. Right upon entering, most of the kids latched onto one of us. There were quite a few of them. A 12 year old girl came up to me right away and held onto my arm for most of the next hour. She showed me her room and around their building. I had bracelets that I made to give out and as I started to, there were a few girls that kept asking for more and more. They had plenty, and there were several children that did not receive one. I found this a bit upsetting. They actually started to become more aggressive about it and were shouting "GIVE ME ONE" over and over. I had to tell them I did not have anymore. What really bothered me was that they were hiding them and trying to tell me that they did not get one. They also snatched some away when I was trying to give them to other girls. It was not all of the kids, just two girls in particular. Their behavior, while I understood it, almost ruined my experience there. I didn't see any of the other students with these types of children. There is clearly a hierarchy in this orphanage (and in most, I assume). Please don't get me wrong, I really liked the girls. They were sweet and very fun, but I really just did not care for some of their actions.
|Me and one of the children|
Sunday was UNAF's graduation ceremony and we all got to dress up and go. When we arrived, it was a bit shocking. The ceremony was held in a very nice church that was FULL to the max with families. We were led in down the center isle...almost like a wedding party. Everyone stared and some even took pictures! It was definitely not anything any of us were expecting. We sat in the very front right next to the graduates. The ceremony lasted 2 hours and it was all in French. Gedeon welcomed us (in English) and told the crowd who we were and how we had brought all of the textbooks to the university. It felt really good when everyone applauded us. Dr. Oliver gave a speech (with Branly translating), Dr. Russell shook hands with the graduates after they received their diplomas, and apparently we were all on TV! None of us realized that it was being broadcast LIVE! I mean, we SAW the guy with the camera..he was right in front of us...I even waved! But I assumed it was just to make a video for the students or whoever wanted one. Oh well, I guess I'm famous in Haiti now :]
|Part of Northcoast farms|
|Bee hives at Northcoast|
|Heading to the Bee CoOp|
|Pinguin fibers that will be|
made into rope
|Some of the beautiful candles they make|
at Northcoast. The black color is achieved
by adding charcoal.
|Candle making explanation|
After we left Northcoast, we headed to the Citadel. The Citadel is a very old fortress that was built in the 1800's to protect Haiti from the French when they returned..they never did. There are hundreds of cannons and cannon balls neatly stacked in different places in the Citadel. It's so beautiful and old, but there's a catch...it's located about 3000ft up a super steep trail that was only about a mile and a half long. We rode the bus as far up as we could but stopped in a parking lot. The rest was up to us. When we got out we were immediately swarmed by people wanting to sell us souvenirs or to ride their horses up to the top. We were NOT riding horses. The poor things were soo thin and had such awful saddle sores. :[ The previous class that went on this trip were asked to ride the horses to give a report on the experience for future tourist. One student reported that their horse was wiped over 100 times and most of the students got off the horses half way to the top and walked.
Even though we did not want to ride the horses, a large group of people followed us up on foot and on horse. The people on foot were "guides" and they talked to us and pointed things out. A young boy designated himself as my guide. His name was Joselyn (not sure if I spelled that right). He spoke very good English and he told me about himself and asked me questions about America. He showed me different landmarks such as a large basin that was used to hold water and a smaller stone building that was a lookout tower. He took my picture for me a few times also. The road/trail was made of stone so it was pretty uneven, and it was VERY steep for the most part. It was really hot out and sunny on and off. I don't think I've ever sweat so much! I made it to the top though and I was so proud. The view was absolutely breathtaking. Miles and miles of mountains were all you could see. The citadel was so old and the stones were moist and had a lot of moss on them. It looked like something out of The Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. We all took several pictures while waiting for everyone to reach the top.While we were waiting the winds brought in a cloud...we were that high up! It was really cool at first because I had never been in a cloud and you could see the air swirling around in it, but it also brought colder air. It was a nice relief at first, but it started to get kind of chilly. We had a tour guide who took us through the large rooms of the Citadel and explained what everything was and the history of the place. It was pretty cool. There were cannons from Spain, France, and England.