Monday, July 16, 2012

Le Monde de Morne Bouton: Building with Digicel!

Deja vu all over again...
La Citadel, commissioned by Henri Christophe, was built between
1805-1820 on this mountainside by 20, 00 freed slaves.

A school is offered by Digicel Foundation for this mountain zone, 
Zoranje, 6eme seksyon 
Leogane, southeastern Haiti, 2011-2012.

A Conspiracy of Forces:  Pep andeyo, timoun lekol, la Mairie, Digicel, Letat (and mwen)

Mezanmi!  It appears that the Mairie of Leogane, Digicel and even Letat d’Ayiti may all be on board with the 6-room schoolhouse Digicel Foundation thought it might build! At least, it had been proposed last summer, for elementary school children in our remote mountain zone, Zoranje, 6eme seksyon, Leogane.  That’s “remote” as in “no roads.”

And as of today, it seems that the powers that be have agreed that, in order for the 7 tons of construction materials to appear at the school site, why, a road (a road!) will have to be constructed first.  A road!

How did this minor miracle come to pass? 

The usual confluence of serendipity that is Haiti, I suppose.

Thanks to a Haitian Facebook buddy, who works for Digicel, I was digitally introduced to then-CEO of the Digicel Foundation, Elizabeth Headon.  Then followed an astonishing in-person meeting of Ms. Headon with three of us mountain personae: Elisee Abraham (a.k.a. Toma), myself, and young Destin Louisjean, along for the ride and the education.

And what an education it was.  We were ushered into Ms. Headon’s glass-walled office - of course air conditioned – sat on cushy chairs and were served coffee (sans sik!) in tiny cups (porcelain, Irish) with shortbread (yummy, also Irish) and immediately handed color copies of the school building Ms. Headon was telling us about, in rapid-fire English (accent was Irish).  It would have 6 classrooms.  It would have a separate “biwo” (office).  It would have windows.  Even doors!  Desks!  Chairs!  A latrine!  Her list went on. Staggeringly on.

“Where do we sign?” I bleated.

Well, of course, not so fast.  Ms. Headon would have to visit and yes she’d make the hike up 3500 feet, of course!  But, even before that, a reconnaissance mission would be hiking up, to check the security of the trek and ourselves.

Pa pwoblem,” says Toma, and he and I discussed where the visitors might be lodged, should they need to overnight.

I, of course, did not believe that any of this would actually happen. 

Haiti’s funny that way.  The planned things, for one reason or another, do not come always come to pass (at least, not as you’d have liked them to have come to pass) but, as if an Almighty is seeking to balance the score, the most unplanned, miraculous, outlandish and unbelievable things (and people) do happen.  It’s all in the serendipity of Haiti.

Good things happen, all in good Haitian time.

“It’s a bit of a trek,” I share, believing in “truth-in-advertising.” 

“Bit” is a bit of an understatement. It’s almost 3500 feet of sheer rock face; even the mules balk.  Haitians can do it in under 2 hours, but then they’ve been in training all their lives.  The rest of us can, with good cloud cover and sufficient adrenalin, make it up in around 3…or 4.

There’s that river, the Momance, to cross.   Twice actually.  After that flat and shady part, it’s mostly straight up and on, until you are there.

Well, in truth, there’s actually no “there” there.  The zone consists of homes (huts?) and churches (and more churches) strung out along hillside paths that snake along mountain ridges, crests, cornfields and lakou (traditional clusters of more-or-less related families).  And churches.

The descent is actually more difficult.

“I can do it,” assures Ms. Headon, who looked to be maybe 40 at most.  I was certain she could make it.

The question was: would she?

Indeed, she did.  Read on. Photos in next blog post.


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    1. Mesi anpil pou repons ! Yes, the road, yes the school. All in Good Haitian time. meanwhile, al gade ti mizik video sa-a -- ak timoun, travay ap kontinye...