Muddy Shoes and The Best and Only Way
Darline brings wooden chairs and we sit beneath the mango tree in her front yard. She smile-beam-shines as she educates me on the CHP supported Girl’s Empowerment program she supervises. Her neighbors repair a motorcycle nearby in the muddy driveway. Their hands are busy but they hear Darline’s words. Changing our society, she says. Her daughter, shy at first, inches her way over and is sitting on Darline’s lap by the end of our conversation.
Earlier in the day, Patrick, Margalita and Soeurette describe the nightmare of Hurricane Matthew, the devastation the storm brought to local farms and gardens, and their gratitude for the enormous impact that the CHP funded seed bank has had in allowing families to recover. 800 families in one day, they say, people came from miles. They hope to continue with the seed bank, to grow it for the entire region.
Earlier that morning the children arrive at St Paul’s School after the heavy rains of the night before. It’s nothing like Matthew was, but there is real flooding. Along with smiles, most students wear old and muddy shoes as they enter. They change into shiny black dress shoes before lining up to begin another school day.
The day before, late in the afternoon, the sun sets over the mountains behind St Paul’s School, and Kenel, the CHP supported agronomist, tells jokes as he feeds the goats. He quickly grows serious, speaking with passion about the impact that the CHP supported agricultural education program has had for families in the hard to reach villages that surround the school. The students take home starts and seeds which they then plant at home, Kenel visiting each farm or garden periodically.
Earlier that morning Father Abiade welcomes me warmly and invites me on a walk into town. We chat as we walk and he speaks with passion about the march toward a more independent Haiti. He cherishes the deep roots of the CHP / St Paul’s partnership.
On the way back we stop at Wilda’s simple home. Wilda is a CHP funded health aid, a mother of a St. Paul’s School student, and recently, a farmer of her small plot. Her husband Jacob, who provided the metal work for the parish fence, looks at Wilda with pride as Father Abiade explains what a pillar she is for the community. As we leave she asks Father Abiade to send Kenel to advise on the garden again.
These anecdotes are not the result of a neatly tied package – white paper, red bow, right angles. The package is messy, there are complex realities to confront. In supporting CHP, you are not supporting simple solutions to simple problems. You are supporting community driven development in a place facing profound challenges, and I am proud, honored and inspired to now be joining you in that effort.
The men and women I reference above know how to drive progress – not an easy or perfect progress – but real progress, community driven, and fueled by your support. On the plane home, I am geared up and grateful for the opportunity to work with the community in and around Petit Trou, and the community in and around Denver / Boulder, building bridges and resources through long term relationships and Haitian led efforts. It seems the best and only way, for those in need of our support, and for those of us who are fortunate enough to have found a real way to help.
I hope to see you this Friday at Evening for Haiti, and I look forward to working with you for years to come.