First of all: Why? Why do they need to take a trip together at all? Just for fun?
Well, of course, we do want our staff to have times where they can take a break from their labor and have a good time together. It encourages them and refreshes them. It builds team unity.
But that is not the only reason we see value in sending them on a trip to another area of Haiti. It is because we want them to learn by SEEING and EXPERIENCING many things that we are so often trying to tell them.
The importance of trees, for example. You can talk about the importance of trees and try to make people see the importance of trees until you are worn out. People may believe you and try to understand. But SHOW them a place where there are trees (I mean, like, established, prolific trees), and they will know for themselves. Few people on the Plateau have had the chance to see other places and other contexts, even within their own country. A trip like the development outing can do wonders for a person’s personal growth. It can also help them to better understand the work of Lemuel and certain aspects of their own job.
In addition, times like this spent with our staff provide opportunities to make investments in their lives.
It all started on Thursday afternoon with quite a sight to behold…the development men in the kitchen preparing “pate” for their own breakfast in the morning!
Petit- Jean holds the bowl, while Jean-Marcsonne (apron and all) kneads the dough.
Early the next morning (after eating their chicken pate), they were on their way. Manis’ mother also went along!
Of course, road trips in Haiti are always an adventure. The development staff had about a 10 hour drive ahead of them to get to Port-à-Piment in the South. Along the way, the clutch in the bus started giving trouble. By the time they got to the mountains before Port Salut, the staff actually had to all get out of the bus and PUSH it up the mountain. Yes, that’s true. I really regret that my designated photographer (Wilferne) did not get any pictures of that….he was probably pushing the bus.
Needless to say, though they left the Plateau at 3 AM, they did not arrive in Port-à-Piment until around 7 PM. (Follow the red line below.)
Port-à-Piment is where Samuel had his first experience in Haiti. He lived there for a year and a half, and still has friends there that provided a place for our staff to stay. The guys got themselves all set up for the night. (From what I hear, they also had quite a good time playing pranks on one another, such as the old toothpaste-in-the-hand-tickle-the-nose-while-he-is-sleeping bit.)
As you can see, they took all of their provisions along with them. The staff was split up into groups, each responsible for a different meal. Although a lot of Haitian men know how to cook, that job usually doesn’t fall to them when they get older. So it was fun to see them coming together to make food for each other. (Technically, they are not “cooking” in these pictures…but they did!)
On Saturday, Samuel and Okson had to take a motorcycle into Les Cayes (over an hour away) to look for a new clutch for the bus (that’s Okson in blue).
Meanwhile, the rest of the staff visited a famous cave near Port-à-Piment.
A guide explained important aspects about the cave and the surrounding area.
Then, they had to make their way UP before going DOWN.
Apparently the way up was a little steep. Luckily, the ladies had gallant men to help them on their way. Poor Mme Bogi looks like she needs a breather.
At the top at last!
As you can see, the terrain is a far cry from that of the Plateau. Haiti’s South is drastically different than the areas north of Gonaïves. Not only is it environmentally different, but it has a greater tourism industry and is more developed.