Here I am in Haiti and in a beautiful tropical environment. I should be ecstatic to have returned to the Caribbean once again but this time I am not a tourist as there are very few here and this is not a land that caters to tourist. I am among a handful of volunteers who come to Haiti to help out in whatever way they can. The picture of me shows where I am found on most days –at the hotel busily preparing my training and where I have access to wireless internet.
The temperature is in the 90’s here and very humid, giving it a heat index above 95. It seems like an inescapable heat! Looking or hoping for a breeze in early July is a lost cause. In Haiti, electricity is intermittent. Air conditioners are practically non existent and during these times of high energy prices (gas is over $5/gal,) AC’s and luxuries of that kind are not possibility for most people. Luckily, my hotel, L’hotel du Roi Christophe has a large generator providing us 24 hour electricity.
I landed in Port au Prince about a week ago and after spending a day there going back and forth to the airport to find my lost suitcase, I was able to complete my journey to Cap-Haitien which is a small seaside city at the North of Haiti. “Le Cap” is where I will be spending the next few weeks working with and training officers and members of the Mikouti Agro Enterprises—a large group of agricultural producers and helping them build their management and marketing capacity. I am following up on the work of two other volunteers who have assisted the cooperative with developing a business strategy. Makouti’s main focus is on vegetable production, but members also produce processed food products, honey, goat meat, rabbit meat and eggs. Major vegetable crops include tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber and eggplant. The project for which I am volunteering aims to increase farmers’incomes by reducing crop losses and increasing production capacity and sales.