I’m now in my third week in Haiti, and today was the second work day on the second of six kays (houses) I’ll be building. This will be an interesting week. It’s the only week for which I’ll have no American volunteers, just the Haitian crew. That’s fine, it’s just an extra challenge to have no recourse to English if a complicated issue comes up!
On the other hand, I’m learning a lot, both language-wise and about the greater context in which I find myself. We took a long walk through the mountains after work today, and the homeowner proudly showed me the work he and his wife have done through the CODEP program to earn the house we’re building.
They started by planting rows of vetiver grass and eucalyptus trees on the deforested mountainside. These hold the soil in place, reducing erosion and allowing fertile soil to develop. Later they plant a wide variety of plants and trees — mango, avocado, soursop, oak, sour apple, chocolate, coffee, lime, orange, papaya, and more. It’s amazing to see the difference between the CODEP fields and the still-bare hillsides surrounding them.