Blog is written by Matthew Dalthrop, a junior at Luther College in Decorah, IA. Matthew is at our grounds in Gonaives, Haiti.
This would not be a true blog from two Iowans if farming was not discussed at least once. Today is that day.
As our last full day in the Gonaives area, Silentor wanted to show us where he grew up. He took us to his and Big Dub’s (the nickname given to Woody) village, LaCroix (pronounced La Qua), where we saw and met Woody’s family and the place in which he grew up. It was pretty neat seeing his house, his village, and his brothers and sisters. As more children were coming back from school, it was explained to us that such school children walked a good distance to their school. Although it was not the same as walking through six feet of snow going uphill both ways as older generations would like to tell us, one was still able to see the hardships of walking two miles to school everyday in the blistering heat of Haiti. During this trip, we were also able to walk to Silentor’s father’s farmland. There, amidst the scorching sun of Haitian summer, we meandered through the last harvest’s corn stalks as his cattle grazed in the shade watching our every move.
As paperwork is being done in anticipation for the Mission Etoile school to open up, Silentor has been meeting with several nearby principals and other education officials in regards to how to run a school. As a future educator myself, this has been a great opportunity for me to see the Haitian school close up. The school we went to, called Lekol Delva, is a mission school with funding coming from North Carolina, and also happens to be the place where Leboise works. Interestingly enough, as Silentor was meeting with the principal of said school, Conner and I watched a farmer behind the school flood his fields. This was done by diverging a canal of irrigated water into a field by building a set of dams in its path. Unfortunately, the students were busy taking exams, and we were unable to interact with them. That is something that I do not miss since being in Haiti: midterms.
For us this week, we’ve been exposed to more of Haiti than I believed would be done. I’ve eaten things I probably wouldn’t have before; I’ve communicated to others without words; I’ve seen smiles and joy in places where I once believed I wouldn’t. But most of all, I’ve been exposed to the power of friendship and community. Friendships have been made with the nearby children and with those who work with Silentor that will not be forgotten soon – and we are all working as a community towards the same goal of helping an impoverished area believe again and to open doors that were once closed to nearby children. Even now as I write this, everyone is bringing their skills and opinions to the table for the betterment of all.
And that’s been one of the more inspiring things while being here: community and the empowerment of it. Its been evident in many things this week, whether it be the women’s empowerment group that Silentor leads (whose main mission is to empower nearby young women to believe in bigger and better things for themselves and for their community) or, similarly, through the cooperation of us all – those involved with Many Hands for Haiti and those from other mission schools who offer their advice and professionalism – to get Mission Etoile off the ground and running. Super cool to see.
Postscript: As a sidenote, my watch fell off while playing soccer last night; one of the kids picked it up and gave it to me. This took me by surprise as it has been a very coveted thing when meeting new kids. Because of this unexpected generosity, a smile was put upon my face to last and my day was made. Thank you random Haitian boy.