We've said a lot of hellos, but now we're approaching the end of our stay, and will soon be saying hello to a lot of you in person. We're look forward to seeing many of you soon.
As you can no doubt imagine, this is becoming a melancholy time: while we've been gone too long, and we're anxious to see friends and family, our lives for the last ten months have revolved around a group of people that we're on the verge of leaving.
We're going through a lot of the "last ofs": last market day (Friday), last 7th Day Adventist service (Saturday), etc.
The good news is that we'll certainly be back someday: for instance, we'll need to pick up Rosemanie (once we've climbed the mountain of paperwork required for the adoption, and assuming that all goes well). But we don't know when that will be. In the meantime, we're leaving some good new friends for good old friends. I remember a piece of needlework that my parents had hanging in their kitchen for years: "Make new friends but keep the old: the new are silver; the old are gold." I believe that golden friend Lois Hiltner gave it to my parents, and I look forward to seeing that golden friend soon.
Projects are well in hand. Most will be completed by the time we leave, but a couple of them are continuing. We're almost done with our fourth dry toilet: we've built two in Garde Hiram, one in Gaspard, and now a fourth in Ranquitte (near the market, in the vicinity of the current and unofficial public toilet area -- right near a stream).
I'm not going to be able to complete that project before we leave because the final four toilets are to be constructed on the CFI campus, and CFI wants one of their board members to evaluate the four already constructed toilets before approving their incorporation onto the campus. Should CFI refuse them, my trusted friends George and Mesidor will choose where to locate the four remaining. They're confident, however, that CFI will elect to accept them.
I'm starting one new project as we prepare to leave, but it's a "phase two". The "100 Biosand filter project" is proving so popular that we're going to extend it. That was a $5000 project to put 100 filters in 100 of the poorest homes in the area. We've managed to put 118 into homes and schools for that amount; in phase II, we're subsidizing the filters: the recipients will now pay about half the costs, and we hope to put in another 100.
The arborloos are done, all 203 of them. It's neat to wander around the area and see all the arborloos dotting the landscape. We hope that represents a lot of sanitation for the Ranquitte area. The nursery is starting to send out trees to fill arborloos, so that's satisfying. Speaking of the nursery, it's got coffee growing in abundance, to hopefully jump-start a big push for coffee in Ranquitte. Coffee was traditionally a big cash crop for the area, but prices world-wide have been so depressed by the introduction of cheap coffee (robusto, rather than arabica) from places like Vietnam that farmers here are starting to give up on it.
Tom Durant, CFI's economic development coordinator and the guy in charge of CFI's agricultural program, is in Ranquitte at the moment (here Tom and team videotape a worker, to get her history -- Tom's in shades). Tom and I always have a good time together, and enjoy scheming about the future here. Tom's interest from the beginning of his involvement was in bringing back coffee, only pitched to the Fair Trade crowd. One of my last official acts will be to join Tom for a visit with people from (RECOCARNO - Réseau des Coopératives Caféières du Nord et du Nord Ouest), which runs a network of coffee cooperatives in the Cap Hatien area. We envision a cooperative here in Ranquitte, which CFI's coffee will feed into in about three years. So we'll be going to the Cape on Monday. We're also visiting with another organization (Community Housing Foundation) with ties to USAID, so we're hoping that we might be able to piggy-back on them to get USAID working with CFI in Ranquitte.
Lots of scheming still going on!;)
Tom came in with a neat gizmo for me: a solar powered fan, that we're using to try to get the solar dehydrator working better. We've got some mangoes and pineapple in it right now. I had some of the pineapple a little while ago, and it was delicious. But it's taking too long to dehydrate, even with the fan in place. Back to the drawing board! In spite of our lack of success, this is perhaps the most important idea I've worked on: if we could create an industry to promote dehydration, we could employ 20 workers, and so support 20 families. Meanwhile, we'd be delivering wonderful dried fruit to the US and around the world....
One last (and the most important) thing we need to do is a visit to Port-au-Prince to work toward the adoption of Rosemanie. She'll get a chance to accompany us to PAP, and will enjoy the plane ride, as well as a visit to the hotel. We'll hope to make some inroads with the Haitian authorities. Wish us luck!
Thanks to all of you who did so much to support our sabbatical year, and who made it a success. We will miss our friends in Ranquitte, and wish them well as they move forward through the morass of problems with which Haiti is plagued. We will not forget you, and we will continue to work with you to make your lives better.
Goodbye from Haiti!