TAFH January 2017 Journey to Haiti

The Tree Angels for Haiti (TAFH) team had another successful trip to Leogane. As usual, the trip was filled with special moments, opportunities to fellowship with the community and rewarding projects to further the mission. Although words seem inadequate to describe the experience, here are a few journal entries to help share the beautiful memories:

Day 1:  “Oh Happy Day!” Wednesday 1/25/17 was a much-anticipated day! We spent 8 months preparing for this trip with a lot of excitement. We were so excited to arrive and reconnect with everyone that helped welcome us again.

Welcome to Haiti! Our one-hour drive from the airport to Leogane is, of course, a two-hour long and bumpy drive, but we don’t mind. We are captivated by the liveliness of the country and the human element that is felt everywhere in the densely populated streets of Port-au-Prince. We get to Leogane with not a moment to lose. The sun will set soon and all our work must be done during sunlight hours. The second day promises to be busy. Round up the volunteers; get the merchandise ready to prep for the workshops, scramble for food to feed over 60 people. Accept that 7am is really 9am. There you have it –ready for a good day!

Day 2: The day was centered on educational workshops. Off we go with chants and prayers. Onel opened the workshops with the fundamentals of reforestation and defined the function of a tree from its roots to its leaves. Lynette conducted a full session on the importance of the fruits and vegetables in our surroundings and the role they play in a well-balanced healthy life. Trinia gave a crash course on the fundamentals elements of gardening and how to maximize your yield. Chantey gave a global view based on her travels and helped everyone understand that– whether it’s Haiti, the USA or Africa– the possibilities are the same. In conclusion, she claims that whatever can grow there can grow here. Jonas shed some light on the urgency of land fencing and the importance of securing the land with the main nursery. Our short-term goal is to open the Morel land to all, make educational excursions possible for all and include endemic species native to the area.

Day 3: The workshops continued and the volunteers had the chance to apply what they’ve learned. No one was left out– Men, women, young and old all participated in the activities and learned a lot about the basics of tree planting. The goal is to help the people of that region understand why they’re planting trees and help them plant with a purpose.  Onel taught the basics of planting and walked everyone through the proper ways of tree planting. Jonas conducted a full session on soil mixing and how to prep the soil to plant. Lynette and Trinia were assisted by Enite to teach the young ladies and boys how to prepare and fill up the containers for seedlings. Chloe took the initiative of teaching the children the importance of picking up trash. She encouraged them and led a group to pick up all the trash on the land. Overall, day 3 was a great day and ended beautifully with a visit in the mountain of St. Etienne and a short visit to Josue’s nursery.

Day 4: The Excursion…We did not make it to the mountain top, but we excavated a cavern in Fondwa.

Such a rich history! There, we learned so much about Queen Anacaona. an indigenous queen who fought for the survival of the Taino people. She was the first Haitian heroine who fought against the Spaniards on the island of Hispaniola. It is believed that she lived in the Leogane region and hid in the caverns of Fondwa when the enemy went after her.

Day 5: Election Day in Haiti and a day for us to spend an afternoon relaxing at the beach. There, we found succulent food, beautiful art and relaxing waves.

Day 6:  Today was all about applying all we’ve learned during days 2 and 3. We mixed soil and compost to prepare seedling containers and focused on fencing the land. We purchased stakes and barbed wire and made it happen.

Day 7:

“The children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way…” –Whitney Houston.

School distribution day!! We understand that the key to making our programs successful is education. Working with the youth is of utmost importance. Education is empowering. With that model, we toured four schools in the Leogane region: L’ecole Nationale des Frères de Bossan, John Wesley, Jerusalem and Rhode Valme school. No time outs taken, the message was delivered to each school. We encouraged them to build a small nursery and to incorporate environmental activities in its curriculum.

A few of us were privileged enough to make it to this Haiti mission trip and to follow through and implement some great projects.  Just a few months after a terrible and deadly hurricane, which ravaged and destroyed the lives of many on that small island, we had a million reasons to go to Haiti. Thanks to so many here and there, our trip was possible.

Looking back, we can’t remember how hard it was carrying lumber and helping out with the fencing under the hot sun. We have only happy memories of the soft and caressing waves and the delicious food prepared with love and care. On or off the field, the momentum never stopped. Our main goal was to spread hope and help the people of Leogane understand that we never stopped thinking of them…We are so grateful that we were able to deliver. And we can’t wait to continue our work together again soon!