I first want to start by saying how appreciative and fortunate I am to have been invited to join this team! What an amazing experience! Thank you to my entire team for holding down the fort while I was away.
On this day we started a little bit late as we had arrived from Marbial the evening before after a long hike and drive down from the mountains. At the hotel we are treated well – a good breakfast and some café au lait to start the day.
We then headed over to the orphanage for our first day of work there. I found the home quite pleasant and clean. All the kids sleep dormitory style and I wonder if this helps create a sense of camaraderie and family – I am sure it does as they boys call each other brother and you can see how much they love each other. While we did work some, the highlight was a fun soccer game between the Canadian’s and the Haitian workers and boys – TRUE FUN!
Then the school kids came home, looking sharp and dapper in their school uniforms. It was extremely charming when the girls welcomed us with a respectful kiss on the cheek to greet us hello. I also managed to sneak in some drumming with some of the boys where we had an impromptu jam session and Dan Holmes played the trombone. You really get to know someone and all their layers of personality and expertise on a trip like this. Dano (that’s what I and the boys call him) is quite the Renaissance man!
After all this, it was off to the city. The boardwalk was very nice – Jacmel is actually a nice city on the ocean. John and I had a pleasant stroll through the nearby neighbourhood and everyone was active and pleasant.
We then walked some of the older harbor front buildings. Some nice, old, restored colonial buildings mixed with some very dilapidated old buildings. Presumably some of this is still left from the 2010 earthquake. Certainly a different vibe from the rainforest in the mountains and much warmer, but not unpleasant.
As a group we walked through the ‘downtown’ area. There are lots of little shops; barber shops and beauty shops are common as appearance is very important as we’ve seen on our visit. Hike any city of this type and the streets are busy and full of bikes and cars whizzing by as there are no sidewalks and the streets are more than full! All in all I felt relatively safe and it was certainly interesting. Though 3rd world and seemingly a land of chaos there is an inherent structure to life once you start to get immersed into their world.
Then back to the hotel, where we had another lovely group dinner as was customary for all our nights, this evening, we were joined by our ‘sons’ who included Franck – who Dano, Lana and I have agreed to sponsor for his last 3 years of university. Franck is a wonderful charming boy who is studying Agronomics. Despite losing his mother when he was 8, and father when he was 9, Franck has an amazing sense of strength and courage and is committed to his education which will hopefully allow him to gain his place in the world. He’s now my Haitian son!
Franck was also a great sport, allowing me to practice my French and him to practice his English. Franck is also a great worker which is why I think we hit it off so well. He is very appreciative of the gifts he has been given by Marline and Daniel rather than focusing on his hardships. I feel grateful to have met this wonderful young man.
So in all this has been a great trip and a great day. Tomorrow we go to the plage (beach en francaise)! Blessed, fortunate or lucky – whatever the word, I am grateful to FLCM and the Centra Cares team for a great trip!
This update by Andrew Creighton.
Principal, BC Building Science.
For those who do not know, I am not a Centra employee. I was invited on this trip because of the generosity of Jeff Foster and John Tilstra and the team. What started as a random conversation around a campfire on a cold February day, turned into a trip that is a chance of a lifetime, though I hope this does not end here.
Andrew Creighton is now an honourary Centra Cares member.