Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My new bike

So I bought this hot bike for $35. It's a Trek from the 70's or 80's. Bryan and I went bike shopping in Saint Mark where there are a few vendors, each with ten or twenty bikes. To demonstrate the bikes' durability they bounce them off the ground in front of us. This bike wasn't for sale but when I walked over to look at it the owner appeared and started giving me a sales pitch.
After I bought it, I flipped the handlebars and chopped them off for a more upright stance. Bryan had a small handful of bar-tape that covers a few inches of handlebar. I chucked the front-derailleur because I won't ever go fast enough in Port to use the big chain ring, and my little brother brought me some new 1 1/4 tires, my Brooks seat and my BMX helmet. I haven't had time to ride much yet but it's going to be so awesome. I'm going to hit some single-track in the countryside tomorrow and hope the bike holds together.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Looking forward to

1. Three more weeks with Tim and Andrew.

2. Planting the cilantro seeds they brought and hoping rainy season humidity will help them germinate. With a steady supply of cilantro I could probably live in Haiti indefinitely. As it is, we'll have to see...

3. Cinnamon rolls from the bakery in Fermanthe. Saturday!

4. A Sunday boat trip with Fritz the Rastafarian to the Iles des Arcadins. These little islands off the Cote des Arcadins are supposed to have some of the best snorkeling in Haiti.

5. 3 days in Desarmes next week, planned of course so that we'll be there on Friday, market day, and I can do two of my favorite things of all time: buy fruits and vegetables in the market and EAT them.

6. Vacation!! We're taking the first week in June off to do some sightseeing/beachlounging with our guests: Aux Cayes, Port Salut, here we come!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recent highlights and lowlights*

Note: activities are not listed in order of importance or level of enjoyment.

- Filming Lisa Simpson in the Central Plateau. I'm not making this up. Lisa Simpson's voice is a donor for the Grameen Foundation. Last week she and GF president and CEO visited Fonkoze clients in Boukan Kare. Ben (along with fellow MCCer Josh) is working on a short documentary film of their trip for fundraising purposes.
- Watching the biodynamic garden he planted behind the MCC office become a biodynamic JUNGLE. Beware of the unrestrained pumpkin vine.
- Broken boots and chacos in the SAME WEEK. He's practically barefoot now. Dad, send ShoeGOO.
- Being the proud new owner of a Trek road bike from the 1980's, purchased on the street in Saint Mark. Also, getting bicycle tires and parts from home last week (Thanks T and A!)

- A bout of something that seemed an awful lot like giardia
- Gorgeous albeit rainy weekend backpacking trip to Seguin. I'll post photos as soon as I can retrieve them from the depths of my husband's photo archive. Anyone who has ever asked Ben for a photo knows what I'm talking about...
- Transitioning into a new job! By August I will be the policy analyst and advocacy worker for MCC Haiti. I'm very excited.**
- Watching my sunflowers and nasturtiums bloom.
- An amazing package from our moms and Karen: tea! trail mix! lavender Dr. Bronner's soap, rice paper, funnies clipped from the Charlotte Observer and more!
- Taking T and Ben with me to yoga. This, thankfully, turned out to be a highlight
- Re-experiencing the beauty and challenges of Haiti through the eyes of our visitors

T and A (Ben's brother and nephew aka our current month-long house-guests):
- Sleeping on our floor and washing our dishes (despite our disdain for food-for-work programs, this is working out quite nicely)
- Actually not sleeping on our floor, but in a hammock under the stars on our lovely porch (T)
- In the middle of the night: Barking dogs and the church across the valley with the insanely loud sound system (lowlight, not highlight.) As a matter of fact, said church is producing some eardrum popping sound as I write this at 11:15 PM.
- Helping to vaccinate 300 goats in Boukan Kare and practicing Kreyol with the CLM case managers
- The incredible mountainous view from our hike to Seguin
- Playing ping-pong (A)
- Sorting TB samples at the Gheskio Clinic for two days (T)

* inspired by my sister's "things we love about our new ap't" blogpost. If you're ever bored reading our blog, skip on over to hers. It's much funnier.

** more on my new job coming soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Haitian government chooses MCC partner to produce documentary

Joshua Steckley and Cathryn Clinton
May 12, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Support Local Production (known as KPL in Creole), an organization co-founded by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), has been selected by the Haitian government's Presidential Commission on Competition to produce a documentary and a commercial that highlight Haitian agriculture.

The government-funded documentary and commercial will be used in the government's campaign to increase sales of Haitian agricultural products locally and abroad.

Since its founding in January 2008, KPL has produced 10 commercials that encourage Haitians to consume local produce. These are broadcast daily on the publicly owned Haitian National Television.

KPL coordinator Ari Nicolas says, "When we started over a year ago, we had to pay $2,500 a month for the television station to air our commercial two times a day. After the food riots last year, they started giving us free airtime. Now, the government is paying us."

In addition to governmental changes, the national broadcaster recently quit broadcasting commercials for imported rice. Haitian farmers have lost jobs because cheaper, subsidized rice from the United States has flooded the Haitian market.

In response to international encouragement to help alleviate poverty, the Haitian government began market liberalization in 1986. While lowered tariffs brought cheaper imported food to Haiti, they had a devastating effect on agricultural production, particularly in rice, sugar and poultry sectors.

Christian Aid, an international development charity, estimates that around 831,900 Haitians have been affected by the loss of agricultural income.

According to a study in 2008 by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, a nonpartisan organization, Haiti now relies on imports for more than half of its food supply.

Nicolas does not blame all Haitian troubles on the market liberalization policies. He says that 300 years of slavery and colonialism taught Haitians they were inferior, and this belief affects them today. "We wear Western clothes, create Western music and eat imported food because we still think who we are and what we can make is no good," he says.

Through commercials, school visits and conferences, KPL reminds Haitians of the importance of valuing their humanity. "As KPL, we are simply trying to make Haitians remember who we are, and what we can produce. Once we can change this mentality, everything else will follow," Nicolas says.

The KPL commercials can be viewed online at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Election Follow-up

As it turns out, none of the senatorial candidates got the majority vote necessary to win the election. A re-vote (which is different from redoing the vote in the places where the election has been annulled) has been rescheduled for June. Redoing the vote in the Central Plateau will take place on an undetermined date sometime after June. The government hasn't annulled the election in the Artibonite, or even just in the Verettes area (read my last blogpost if you want to know why this is apalling). I hate to dwell in cyniscm, but I keep returning to the fact that thus far it has cost $16 million to hold an election 2 years late, with less than 11 % voter turnout and no conclusive result. I need some hope. (Just not Hope II).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...