Back in Haiti and Working with the Sun

Posted Monday 5 January 2015 by Lorin Symington.

The flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince is a lively one. A colourful mix of Haitians returning to their country, aid workers, missionaries and adventurers. I listen in on spontaneous Creole lessons, people swapping stories, describing their projects and chit chatting about travel and weather. I seem to be able to understand much more Creole than the last time I was in Haiti in 2012. I remain mostly silent, imagining the next 10 days and everything that I hope to accomplish, wondering how the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince is going, remembering the last time I took this flight and how at that time, Haiti was a patchwork of worrying impressions I had gathered from the internet: poverty, danger, chaos. This time, however, I know the situation and am confident… I know where I’m going and what I have to do.

The ride to Haiti Communitere is short, and just like I remember; little to nothing seems to have changed… except maybe that the tarps covering the roadside kiosks are more worn. There’s a little less rubble, more potholes and just as many smiling merchants selling handmade souvenirs. My eyes linger on the ‘manjekwits’ on the side of the street where women cook rice and beans and sauce over charcoal stoves. 98% of Haiti’s forests have disappeared because essentially everyone uses charcoal to cook.

Things at Haiti Communitere, on the other hand seem to have changed and improved: an ubuntu factory on the roof, an amazing new workshop, a new biogas toilet and some shiny new intereresting alternative structures. Joseph, the security guard on duty, and I greet each other by name. It feels really, really good to be back. By the time I leave there will be a solar bakery operating on the roof and the Solar Fire will have spread a little more.

I only know a few of the internationals ‘on base’ at HC but it still feels like coming back to my tribe. HC is filled with good people doing good work; everyone has a great story and the fact that they’re on the ground in Haiti is a good indication of their commitment.

“Oh that’s your solar cooker up on the roof? That thing is amazing!”

Darn right it is... wait till you see everything it can do. By weeks end we’ll be eating solar pizza, cakes, rice and beans, all without burning a single piece of a single tree.

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