It was wonderful to receive the outpouring of support in response to my illness. Nothing brings out the sympathy like a little bout of malaria! All is well, and life is good again.
Let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving: we've got everyone scouring the neighborhood for a turkey, so that Anna can show the folks here how we celebrate. Somewhere there's an oblivious turkey who's got a surprise coming....
We're "recovering" from the visit of two groups, one of 13 people (led by CFI's Director, Scott Mandl), and the second of 8 (led by the President of CFI, Ray Jackson). Today the second group departed, which means that it's time to get back to work on my own projects. Some of the things I worked on with this last group included
Anna did most of her work with a nurse from Nova Scotia named Vanessa, who stayed for two weeks, and overlapped both groups:
Marvelous things have been happening, and I'm getting very excited about several projects. The arborloos are coming along for the school: we'll hope to inaugurate them on Wednesday the 29th. Then I've got folks lined up to receive the next batch (which we're going to start cranking out like a factory), and the line gets bigger every day.
One of the things I keep harping on to the folks associated with CFI is that the campus needs to become a show-place. Ivy has done a great job of developing the campus, and now CFI needs to do everything it can to keep it beautiful, and to plan for its future. Ray Jackson has suggested that three of us (me, George Derval, and Franz Pierre, an agronomy student in Cap Haitian) form a committee to oversee planning on campus for the next year. George and Franz work on the reforestation project, so will help to bring more harmony to the campus.
Personally, I'd like to see this campus turned into an agricultural demonstration center, including arborloos, solar pasteurization, solar dehydration, coffee growing techniques, etc. People could come from all around for pointers, and to see what is being done here.
I accompanied Ivy and the rest of Ray's group to the plane in Pignon. As we waited at the airfield, I met a group of folks from another project, called "Bright Hope". Their focus (or one of them) is on job creation, so I told them what we're trying to do with fair trade coffee. Their director was very excited about that, saying that they've not been able to get a stable supply. So if I can get together with people in Ranquitte, maybe we can make fair trade work through Bright Hope. Ray Jackson was also very interested in fair trade coffee: CFI groups generally go back essentially "empty-handed": the tubs loaded with goods that they brought in are left behind. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could go back loaded with products of Haiti! So we'll look into that. I'm looking for a coffee supplier for all the groups coming up in the near term: I'd like to find one with vast hillsides covered with coffee, so that we can do a lot of business together (rather than deal with lots of little growers, which is a reasonable back-up scenario).
It will be quite a change to have Ivy in the States for the next two months. She's been a constant presence in the house, and will be missed (especially after dinner, when the Scrabble usually comes out).
Fortunately Thad continues to be care-free, fun-loving, and much-mothered. He's trading in his English for Creole, and I'm amused to imagine what his grandma and uncle will think of his communication when he arrives. Here are some recent Thadisms:
Thad's a five-year old now (we celebrated his birthday on the second of November), so there are frequent tears when the teasing gets too intense, or when he can't keep up with the others. But he's still our sweet little boy. He gets plenty of attention from the people in the groups, too.
The constant activity of the groups makes it a little hard to get to my pet projects, so those have had to go into "shallow background" for the last couple of weeks. Next time I hope to tell you about my third (and probably final) "major" project: solar pasteurization. By that time my prototype model should be in operation.
Thanks and thanksgiving to all,