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Guest blog: A first-time perspective

Enjoy this perspective from Rianna Neels (far right in the photo above), one of the members of the Mount Cheam group who recently visited us from British Columbia.  This was her first time in Haiti and on the Plateau.  (This post and the pictures are taken from Hungry for Life’s MCG Team blog.  For more stories and pictures from the team, you can visit their blog by clicking on the link.)

First day of work

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

This post by Rianna Neels

Getting out at 6 am to the sound of my alarm clock wasn’t hard as the community (including all the goats and chickens) had been awake and alive with activity for some time already. After getting ready for the day I wandered around the campus with a beautiful sunrise in the distance exploring the gardens and buildings, admiring the use of cactuses for living fences. After a delicious breakfast in the gazebo we headed out with Brad (Lemuel employee) to get a tour of the Lemuel campus. We were shown the church and school along with many other buildings. Brad explained that all the children who attend the school are assigned certain trees on the campus grounds to water and take care of so that the trees stay alive and the children learn the importance of trees and the services they provide.

Brad took us to a site outside the Lemuel campus called Samuel’s Trees which is a green oasis in a scrubby (but beautiful!) desert. Here the land has been reforested so that eventually fruits and vegetables can be grown to provide food for the community. The soil has been terraced and ditched so that water can flow from the top to the bottom of the plot watering the trees as it moves. They cannot use drip irrigation because the water used to irrigate these trees is dirty water trucked to this location in water trucks. The sediments in the water clog up the holes in the drip irrigation. We raised funds to pay for a chain-link fence to be installed around Samuel’s Trees to keep all the free-range goats from eating the leafy green foliage. We joined a crew of men from the community who had already started on the project and we helped take down the old fence made of branches and rope cut out of tires. The new fence was installed with much banter and translating from those who could speak both English and Creole. I think we all realized that there is a huge difference between Haitian and Canadian fencing standards but the Canadian way of doing things doesn’t always work with the quality and availability of supplies in Haiti.

In the late afternoon, we left the site and wandered through the surrounding area, first down a path on the plateau and then to the surrounding houses making up the community of Grand [Diable]. There we visited some of the villagers, one being a woman with three children. She was extremely proud of her water cistern, built out of cement and cinderblocks. This cistern was installed with funds from a previous team and the labour of the local people. She uses the water for her personal use and to sell to other villagers. The cistern is filled by a water truck which gets water from a well about an hour away. The odd time it rains, less than a dozen times in the last few years, water flows off her tin roof and runs through a gutter which is then funneled down into the cistern through the neck of a plastic bottle. Having this cistern provides more stability for her in terms of water availability and financial income. What struck me most about this visit was her firm trust that God would continue to provide for her as He had done in the past.

Throughout our walk the signs of drought and erosion were very evident from the large cracks in the soil to the almost dry watering hole used for livestock and cleaning. In desperate situations, this bracken water is even used for drinking and cooking. Trees standing on high islands of dirt in between eroded out areas showed how important revegetating the area is to keep the topsoil in place, provide shade, and food for the entire community.

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