My final day in Haiti, on this trip, was one of the best days I have had in this country of endless contradictions.
6:00 AM Wake up.
Mornings are nice here. They are cool, the birds and other animals make sounds, and everything seems fresh and promising. I read 1 Peter and walked around the campus of L’Université Chrétienne du Nord d’Haíti (UCNH). It is a green and vibrant campus. As on any university campus, the students bring youthful energy and optimism. UCNH is dedicated to keeping green spaces and has a large agronomy program. Walking through the campus is a bit like being in Eden.
7:15 AM Breakfast
My friends Steve and Nancy James, CBF medical missionaries who live on the campus of UCNH, invited me to join them for breakfast. I always enjoy their company, and my friends Andy and Jutta Cowie, CBF/BMS missionaries who drove me from Port-au-Prince to Limbe, were staying with the James. They were also at breakfast. The conversation was nice, yet somehow deep.
8:00 AM Teach
My philosophy of religion students were waiting for me. I gave them an essai or final quiz. They handed in their take home tests. I lectured until about 11:00, went to my room and packed up, said goodbye to Monel Jules and Lori and Coso, had lunch with Steve and Nancy, said goodbye to them, and we left.
12:30 PM Depart
The drive south to Port-au-Prince was, for me, at this time in 2015, a neat experience. Some of the roads are smooth, and the diesel Nissan Frontier can make 120 kph. Then, there are enormous potholes. There are pedestrians everywhere. Sometimes there is a market ON the motorway. There are people with horses, goats and other animals grazing or wandering, there are people pulling carts, broken vehicles, and more. Instead of flares or orange safety triangles, a person with a broken vehicle will break off a green, leafy branch and set it in front of and behind the vehicle. People recognize it as a symbol for a broken-down vehicle.
1:30 PM Visit SHG Leader
As on the way north, on the way south, we had to visit one of Jutta’s Self-Help Group (SHG) leaders. Jutta trains the leaders and helps establish the groups, but they do not give the participants any seed money. These are self-help groups. The emphasis is on Haitians helping other Haitians. There are 137 groups, but they grow rapidly. With continued support and proper management, there is no reason why these groups will not continue to grow and lead Haitian people to be self-sufficient. CBF is passing this program to TearFund after Andy and Jutta go on to their next assignment in Guinea.
4:30 PM Pit stop
We stopped at Easy Hotel (www.easyhotelhaiti.com) to get fuel and use the restroom. It was clean and the people were friendly. We passed a section of beaches and resorts, just a bit north of Port-au-Prince. The turquoise water tempted me to fake an emergency and dash off to explore this section of the Caribbean.
5:30 Driving through PAP
Back in Port-au-Prince, we drove through Cité Soliel, a place that is famous for its danger. Andy described it this way: “It’s one of those things where the richest people live on the hill [Petionville] and the poorest people live by the sea.” Jutta pointed out that many people still live in tents there. Then, we drove past the main market; it is sort of an open air wholesale district. It buzzes with energy.
Last night, we went to Ali’s Pizza, where a live band entertained us while we enjoyed pizza, Prestige, and camaraderie.
We walked to the new PAP Marriott after dinner.
The new Marriott is a stark contrast with the world around it, but will possibly attract more Westerners to visit and spend dollars in this country that is a bundle of contradictions. I hope it does. I hope Haiti improves. There is too much potential here to ignore.