So much took place concurrently today that this post will inherently be incomplete. I saw nothing of the women's empowerment workshops, but heard that a women's group is forming for economic development. I saw nothing of the health clinic, but know that almost 80 people were seen, nor the dental clinic, but understand that the volunteers were unable to see everyone gathered and will continue tomorrow with extractions and fillings. At the school I could hear but not see the incredible singing, percussion, dancing, arts lectures, and mask making happening in the other classes.
The group of TVHS students had a marathon of sustainability initiatives today. In the morning, we taught "Zanmi Pye Bwa" (friend of trees) classes in grades 7-9 at the Bigonet School. Wislerson, agriculturalist with the Mango Growers, was our co-facilitator. He gave a wonderful lecture on the history of deforestation in Haiti and the many benefits of trees. We then led a hands on activity where the students created trees from construction paper and labeled the leaves with the gifts that trees offer. We also honored the students whose trees were still living from last year's planting with a special pin and acknowledgement.
After a relaxed lunch outside of the health clinic, we got back to work. With wheelbarrows full of compost and buckets of water splashing over, we headed to the hillsides to care for the trees we planted last year. It was beautiful to see cherry trees almost as tall as my chin that were only 8 inches when we put them in the ground. The survival rate was incredible. Each tree was carefully weeded and received compost and a generous drink of water. I had a particularly good time wielding a pick ax and convincing the men through my endurance that it is possible for women to participate in the hard labor of farming. Libby takes the endurance prize for the students, probably shared with Thomas - as the Americans lost strength under the hot afternoon sun, those 2 charged ahead to find the young trees still in need of care.
It is beautiful watching this become home for everyone on the delegation. Emet has made so many friends despite the language barrier and spent most of the day playing tag and hopscotch and making obstacle courses. The high school students met Andre, fluent in both Kreyol in English, and willing to serve as a bridge between TVHS and the community. Young children climbed into the laps of Kaila and Jenny who welcomed them easily. There was lots of singing, laughter, belonging.