We are sitting in the Cap-Haitien airport enjoying the wonderful air-conditioned room, a rare treat in hot and humid Haiti. We’re here in Haiti to deliver two pieces of equipment that were designed and built by senior engineering students from RIT. One is a bike powered breadfruit grinder that allows farmers to grind breadfruit into flour and thus provide nutrition throughout the year. The other is a hand powered centrifuge used to separate lab samples in remote village clinics that have no electricity.
When we arrived, we learned that most of the people we were to meet had either been arrested or gone into hiding because of political conflict. More unrest in Borgne and Tibouk has prevented us from visiting those areas, so we will be leaving the breadfruit grinder (the BFG) with our local guide, Wladimir (w pronounced like a v), who watched as Mechelle and Chris assembled it, and who will instruct the local farmers on its use when things settle down. The centrifuge (nicknamed Frank) is with SOIL, a local NGO devoted to recycling human waste, providing toilets to those without, and encouraging safer and more eco-friendly sewage disposal as well as reforestation. We visited SOIL a few days ago and toured their headquarters and composting site, the largest waste-management facility in Haiti.
Throughout the trip, we have been assisted by our driver Petite Saint and our translator, an 85 year old woman named Rosie who works every day farming, crocheting, and cooking and still lives with her 100+ year old mother! While in Cap-Hatien, we spent time at Wladimir’s home, meeting his family and consuming delicious Haitian meals that were cooked by his mother. Families here are close and children live with their parents for many years.
Our trip has really been an eye-opener to the state of affairs in this country and the lifestyle and mindset of the people here.
It’s been an incredible experience for the three of us and we’ve had a lot of laughs along the way!
-Chris, Morgan, and Mechelle