Published: March 3rd 2012March 3rd 2012
The loooong busride
i opted for instead of taking the plane - at least the views were not disappointing!
Well I'm here in Okap (Cap Haitian) for about 2 weeks, sent up from Port au Prince to help with the SOIL office finances and operations. Ashley, the new program manager, was supposed to come at least a week ago but has fallen ill and doesn't know when she'll be able to make it down from the U.S. Hence, I'm here and happy to change scenery for a little bit! I'm living on the roof of the office in a big room with a huge rooftop garden. There's a great view of the bay and the surrounding mountains.
Okap is the 3rd largest city in Haiti, but very very different than Port au Prince. For one, it wasn't impacted by the earthquake so the infrastructure is intact and there are 4 story buildings here, paved streets, and parks. Not to say there isn't poverty and slums here - the communities of Shada 1 and Shada 2 are comparable to Cite Soleil in PaP: many people living with limited resources, disease and trash, no money. However, instead of the sprawling slums and urban dwellings of Pap, Okap is pretty contained, with a high urban density and then immediate adjacent rural country
I'm living on the roof
here at the Cap Haitian office, with a wonderful garden and view of the ocean
I've been here for a week now and have spent time helping Theo (the regional director) make the rounds on the 30 public toilets that SOIL helped construct a few years ago for communities to take care of. Because SOIL has no ownership or management over those toilets, they have been left unsupervised or checked-up on and it's only now, a few years later, that SOIL is making an assessment of whether these public EcoSan toilets are useful and successful (the earthquake thing also prevented much oversight in the last 2 years...). For the most part, these toilets have been neglected and there is confusion over ownership and responsibilities. After we finish the assessment and write up the report, we will talk about these issues and decide whether these toilets need to close for public safety (some communities already closed the toilets on their own), or revitalize them and establish a plan with the communites.
We have a farm site along with the composting facilities. The farm is beautiful out in rural Limonad (20 minutes from the city) where you can breathe fresh air and hang out with the plants. The staff here is contemplating investing
The view towards the mountains
unlike Port au prince, the infrastructure here is good. Okap reminds me of a mix between Mexico and St. Croix...
in some livestock and breeding them for extra cash on the side, but security is always an issue, as for the fact that I'm not sure if any of them have experience in keeping livestock? But hey, it's Haiti, and everyone here is farmers.
On the non-work side of things, I've enjoyed walking by the bay and seeing all the runners here! As well as all the roller-bladers. I never knew roller-blading was so big here! Even in PaP there are roller-blading brigades down Delmas, the main traffic-filled way ridden with potholes. Amazing. I also found the only park I've seen in Haiti so far and promptly proceeded to set up my slackline. It was a huge success and was swarmed by tons of kids wanting to try it. I distracted some of them by doing handstands, and then they were ALL doing handstands, backflips, tumbling. One little boy had an amazing middle splits! So we frolicked for a little bit and they had to learn how to help each other walk the slackline, because they quickly found out that 10 people at once was no good. Yeaaaaah teamwork.
There are more photos below