Perle des Antilles

Haiti is an amazing country.  Amidst the poverty of dirt and stone roads, houses made of sticks and rocks, sudden downpours and blazing hot sun, there exists a secret paradise once known as the “pearl of the Antilles”. 
Today I experienced what at one time the entire island of Hispaniola probably looked like.  We travelled to the town of Leon, near the port city of Jeremie, to visit a toilet installation cosponsored by Caritas.  Leon sits in an old forest of mixed exotic fruit trees, many of which I had never seen or heard of before.  We wandered the paths of Caritas where there are tree nurseries, animal husbandry and a peaceful presence unlike anywhere I’ve been. Then we walked up the main street of Leon which felt like a page out of an old Western movie with small shops on both sides of a dirt road.  At the end of the road is the market. Hundreds of stalls made of sticks sit on the banks of the Grand’Anse River.  We saw people bathing and washing clothes near where there was evidence of people using the river bank for their toilet.
In partnership with Caritas and a church in Maryland (sorry I’m blanking on the name), we have helped build an 8 stall urine-diverting toilet which we hope will help people change their behavior from using the river as their toilet. 
Tomorrow is a day full of meetings – coffee planters from the mountain top, health agents from the zone hardest hit by cholera, and members of our partner youth organization, OJPDD.  Then our final dinner and farewells before we head back to Port au Prince on Wednesday. 
More then….
sending love from Haiti