Friday, February 22, 2013

Zamni Mwe (Leah Penniman)

"Zamni mwe" means "my friend" in Haitian Creole. The axis of our day was an exchange of trees and friendship with the students at the Bigonet school. My mother headed there in advance of us, and ended up serving as substitute English teacher for the morning. The director said it was if she had been there all year, the students easily responding to her instruction and natural grace in the classroom. We arrived with crates containing 250 seedlings just before school let out at noon. My son, Emet distributed gifts of notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies to his age mates. We watched the students sing and dance. Then, each of the 12 young people in our delegation (8 TVHS students, 2 of my children, and the daughter and friend of our co-facilitator) were paired with 12 age mates from the school. Each pair of friends then walked to the home of the local child to plant a tree together. The students were astounded at how far and across such difficult terrain the students walk to get to school - be it in the rainy season or under the beating sun. Just one such walk for our American students rendered them almost unable to plant trees later in the afternoon. The pairs exchanged addresses and then together handed out the remaining trees - 1 to each of the Bigonet school children. Fritz gave them instruction in caring for the tree, telling them that each tree would bear their name.

Earlier in the morning, we continued with our vetiver dam project to stop the erosion in the gully. We also had a "seed bomb" workshop with Lakol. We learned to create fist sized balls using a mixture of equal parts soil, clay, and earth with several seeds. The balls are laid to dry in the sun and can be thrown into the barren mountainsides where they will take root in the rainy season. This is an inexpensive and efficient way to green a landscape, pioneered in urban communities with vacant lots in need of flowers and beauty.

The tree planting continued with success today. After a late and delicious lunch we gathered with the community to plant another 100+ trees (exact count forthcoming), including avocado, papaya, mango, lemon, agape, and kapab. We divided into two teams, one focused on creating shade on the ridge path with a line of trees on either side. The other team went to various farms and inter-planted fruit trees with the crops of peanuts and cassava. The students were tired and several had to sit out some of the work period. I encouraged them to think about making goals around fitness and health. In this community, women of 70 and 80 years were carrying water and compost up and down the steep slopes, with no break and no sign of weariness. They are strong. We can all be strong too! That said, tomorrow is a break. We will visit the waterfall of Basin Bleu and the sands of Jacmel. Back to work on Sunday and Monday! In addition to the planting, we will spend at least 1/2 day helping to build a house in the community with Konbit Shelter.

1 comment:

  1. what a lovely way for me to end my day... reading about your great work! Alysha et al. we are all so proud of you! Miss you, too! Love, Auntie Em