I think most agreed that this was our best day yet, both in variety and in a sense of purpose for being here.
After breakfast, we headed back out to the school (a 15-minute drive over very bumpy roads). There we met with a gathering of parents who introduced themselves and told us how many children they have in the Eco-Village school. We learned that the 1st to 3rd graders now walk 1.5 miles or less to school each day. The 4th to 12th graders, because the additional classrooms have not been built yet, have to walk 2.5 hours each way (into town and back). It therefore made us feel even more gratified to see the construction that we helped get started yesterday morning on Room 3 progress to partially raised walls today. We also heard stories from earthquake survivors, and how they lived in squalor in Port Au Prince tent cities, and are now able to live normal lives in the villages.
Then on to our first village – Eco-Village 1. This was probably the best part of the day. We spent the next 2 hours sitting with the villagers learning the MPP method of making natural insecticide. Becky peeled garlic, Jennifer cut onions, Russ grated oranges, and Scott and I pounded Neem leaves into a mash. This was a great opportunity to get to know some of the villagers and hear their stories in a relaxed setting. We also got to know each other a little better.
The best part of the Villager’s day was when we handed out the photos of them and their children taken during the last visit in October of last year. It caused a lot of excitement! Then we headed back to the school where we had an opportunity to visit with the kids in their classrooms who were gracious and happy to get a brief break from their studies.
We then went outside where the MPP representative, Vilga Jacques, made an official presentation of the 24 Village goats bought by the funds raised by the Presbyterian tri-church group.
Our duties done for the day, we stopped by the MPP store where the group bought peanut butter, jam, honey, and 12 bottles of rum (not kidding). I’m feeling a greater kinship with these traveling buddies. We then headed to the town of Hinche where we visited the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. This is a beautiful church with a six-story dome. Much to our surprise the caretaker took us to the top of the dome – on the outside. This being the highest point in the city, we had a bird’s eye view of the busy city below.
Our final stop of the day was a real treat. Wendy, the UUSC program manager, took us to the Midou resort - an oasis in a very rural countryside. There we sat on the cool veranda drinking very cold beers and eating tasty chicken and plantains. A very relaxed group returned to the MPP compound…