Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Fun Day Haiti Style

Today was our first full day in Haiti. We started off this morning by attending a church service here on campus and seeing the traditions of the Haitian culture. On Sunday our cooks have the day off so Craig and Julie prepared a spectacular lunch for us.

After lunch we traveled to one of the eight feeding centers that UCI supports. Upon arrival we had the opportunity to distribute Christmas gifts to the children at the feeding center sent from sponsors all over the United States. These feeding centers provide much needed food and nutrition to youth in Haiti. JeanJean stated that they want the food at these centers to be grown in Haiti and be self sustaining if possible. Now much of the food is donated and imported in. Students at UCCC are working with the feeding center to start a garden and produce much of the food needed. This project is just in it's beginning stages and will be expanding. The picture below shows the start of the garden and the area it will expand to reaching the back tree line. 

Next we visited several irrigated fields/gardens. Currently we are experiencing the dry season in Haiti so if you want to see much success irrigation is needed. We first visited a garden growing black beans under the shade of papayas due to the heat. Papayas can be a fruit or vegetable. If harvested before they have ripened they are considered a vegetable and if harvested after they have ripened they are considered a fruit. Below you will find a picture of this garden. 

Following inspection of the papaya and black bean garden we made our way to a farmers field where he was growing black beans following corn. This farmer used to have to split his time between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in order to support his family, but since UCCC has stepped in and shared production practices he has improved production greatly! This has allowed him to stop traveling to the DR and spend the entire year in Haiti with his family farming. With the increased production the family is supported and they even have product left over to sell to others. He grows corn, black beans, plantains, millet, etc. While we were there we were able to witness millet being ground to be turned into mush for human consumption and explore his black beans that were growing with irrigation following his corn crop. He has to irrigate the beans about every eight days and the plantains about every 15 days. Below is a picture of JeanJean explaining this farmers practice. 

After our time in the fields we made our way back to campus and enjoyed a spectacular chicken BBQ. After dinner we gathered around the tree out front and got to hear a story from a former witch doctor who has since converted to Christianity. He shared the struggles he had faced in his previous life and the negative affects that voodoo had on his family, community, and country. 

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