I was woken up this morning by a keen rooster, one that decided not to wait for dawn to start to crow. After another great breakfast, we headed off to the UDICC ADP. UDICC stands for Unity, Development, Integrity, Cerca-Carvajal where Cerca-Carvajal is a town which is the main community within the ADP. This ADP was started in 2005, so it is still relatively early in the implementation phase of the community development process. We headed out to Cobocol, then went another 10 km to the east. The roads were quite a bit better from Cobocol to UDICC, but not what we in Canada would call good.
We were once again treated to an amazing welcome. There was a youth band that was quite good. The meeting was opened with prayer and the playing of the national anthems of Haiti and Canada. There were also a number of welcoming speeches. We got to meet the mayor of Cerca-Carvajal and the members of the ADP committee.
Next stop was a visit to a school. This school had five classrooms. It replaced a single room in a church that was previously used to teach all ages. Now, each classroom can be used to teach a different grade, and plans are underway to build additional classrooms to meet the needs of the other grades. Before the ADP started, only about 30% of children attended school. Now, five years into the project, this has increased to 80% of children attending school.
We first met with the people associated with the school, then went on a tour to meet the children. They all looked healthy and happy. Afterwords, we all met outside, and I was able to engage in a spontaneous game where I did high five’s, bumped fists, bumped elbows, and bumped knees with the children. They are such happy, beautiful and fun-filled children.
We also visited a training center where the youth are developing skills in sewing and in preparing products from fruits and vegetables. They had a number of beautiful articles for sale including shirts, skirts and tablecloths. They gave a beautiful item to Heidi as a gift that we will use in future FreddyLink displays and events. They explained how they prepare tomato paste and also make a number of products such as jams from local fruits. The goal is to develop products that can be produced locally and shipped to national and international markets.
These are very important activities for this community. Not only do they generate income, but they play an important role in the social life of the community. Previously, many youth left the area due to lack of opportunities and often went to Dominican Republic where they were not welcome. These initiatives provide the opportunities to keep the youth, who are their future leaders, within their community.
Later in the day, we went to a tree nursery project that had just been launched four months ago. The nursery is used to grow fruit trees (mostly mango and papaya) and trees used for wood-working. The project also produces compost for use within the nursery, and a demonstration garden is planned for the near future. This project not only produces trees for distribution to the community, it also serves as an educational center. Here, members of the community can learn how to produce their own trees and plants. I was impressed by the high quality of work being done in the nursery.
We ended the day with visits to two families that had benefited from the gift catalog, one that had received a pig and one that had received a goat. The goat went to a woman that had been in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake, and was two months pregnant at the time. She received a back injury during the earthquake. She left Port-au-Prince shortly after the earthquake and now lives in Cerca-Carvajal. In addition to her toddler, she has an older daughter who is in the sponsorship program, and a son that has just been accepted into the sponsorship program but does not yet have a sponsor. The goat will provide valuable milk for her family.
Well, tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, we have the party where we meet all the children sponsored under FreddyLink. It will be amazing!!!