I recently had the blessing of traveling back to Haiti with a small team from the College of Charleston & Seacoast Church. We spent our first 3 days in the community of Leveque, where a group of deaf and handicapped individuals are starting a new life after being displaced by the horrific earthquake that virtually destroyed Port au Prince in Jan. 2010. Our time in Leveque was absolutely amazing, but that’s another blog. Right now, I’d like to share a bit about another very special 410 Bridge community – Chadirac.
On the 4th day of our trip, we traveled “up the mountain” to spend the day in the community of Chadirac. What fun and what an adventure! It’s not easy to get there. Our bus could not make the climb, so we went as far as we could in the bus and then took turns being shuttled up to the community in a 4WD vehicle.
Upon arrival, local community members were hard at work on a water project which is in progress there. A natural spring bubbles up on land donated – for the greater good of his community – by an elderly-looking man. Who really knows how old this gentleman is – life is difficult in Chadirac and it’s really hard to even guess the age of anyone. But back to the water…once the spring water is captured, it will be filtered and piped downhill to a containment and distribution point. Our work was steady, yet light-hearted as the community sang and danced. Rocks were passed one to another, making their way to their final destination, where they were stacked and secured with hand-mixed concrete to create the containment structure. It was great to see the water flowing, knowing that soon, very soon, it will be flowing CLEAN and easily accessible.
After a morning of moving rocks and learning about the water project, the team took a walk to another part of the mountain where other community members were again, hard at work, mixing soil and mulch. This mixture was to be scooped into small bags that would soon cradle gently replanted coffee seedlings. Again the team was met by a warm welcome of smiles and songs and soon we were trained on how to handle and transplant these precious seedlings.
Off to the side, another 3-4 women built an open fire and begin to prepare a community meal. The smell was amazing and after an hour or so, a boiling pot of fish bones, bouillon, onions and spices turned into an over flowing kettle of beans and rice.
I walked away from the day with a handful of observations and memories so I’ll try to briefly sum them up. First, this is truly what COMMUNITY looks like. Everyone worked together, each helping one another to accomplish something for the greater good of ALL families on the hillside. Second, there was JOY… there was happiness and cooperation. Third, you don’t need to speak the same language to form a bond. Hugs and smiles go a long way. And all of that from a single day in the life of a community on the side of a remote mountain in Haiti. By the way, did I mention that all of this joy freely flowed from a community where there was no electricity that I could see, no indoor plumbing, no schools, rudimentary houses at best, no clean water, no infrastructure really, of any kind.
Just before our team left for the day, we had the opportunity to spend a few minutes talking to the Leadership Council. A woman on the council was introduced and when we had the opportunity to ask questions, I asked her how these projects had affected her life as woman in Chadirac. She just smiled and said the projects are a blessing to everyone and it didn’t matter how it affected her personally – the important thing was that the projects were making her community a better place for all.
Mobilization Manager, The 410 Bridge