My work in Haiti centers on reforestation and tree-based biofuels (www.imaginehaitian.org). Below are photos from my recent trip to Haiti, including many photos of the trees and the people who are planting them.
Inspecting the nursery at Eben-Ezer Mission with 2 of my good friends: Remy, the nursery attendant, and Pastor Josue, the general manager.
CJ and I pose in front of the Eben-Ezer nursery.
A row of castor trees planted at Eben-Ezer Mission.
A view of the lake that formed after the hurricanes.
CJ, Genia, and Michael walk across dried mud along the shore of the slowly evaporating lake.
One of the papaya trees that my students and I planted in the nursery we constructed in spring 2009. It's taller than me now!
On a trip into Gonaives, we stopped to visit the monument marking the place where Toussaint Louverture was captured (under false pretenses) by the French. Since the last time I was here, someone had cleared out the brush around the monument and placed flowers on it.
On the way back to our car, CJ stopped to chat with a young boy bringing his cow to the river for water.
In Gonaives, we came across a group of young men sitting in the central plaza. They heckled us until we informed them we spoke Kreyol.
A monument in the central plaza of Gonaives, which is considered the City of Independence in Haiti.
A snapshot of downtown Gonaives.
Back at the mission, we sat on the front porch of Pastor Michel's house with Madame Michel and her grandson.
We visited the main nursery in La Croix, where a group of curious young men and boys met us. The nursery attendant Lucson is in front on the right, while Pastor Josue is in front in the baseball cap.
The main nursery at La Croix.
Everyone filing out of the main nursery at La Croix.
Jatropha seeds grown in the La Croix area.
Genia and I pose with one small tree in a field of jatropha seedlings.
A row of young jatropha trees shining in the sunlight.
We took a break to visit with some of Pastor Josue's friends in La Croix.
A young girl plays on the clothesline in the yard.
In addition to the main nursery, the residents of La Croix have started 6 other tree nurseries. This man showed us his nursery, where he grows jatropha and mango trees.
We were curious to examine the man's rainwater collection system, which was funded by another NGO. We would like to install similar systems at other houses in the La Croix area, which has been suffering from drought conditions.
The man and his wife said they save the water in the cistern for emergencies, so they get their daily water from the river downhill from their house.
The man's wife said she and her husband had three children but have lost all three.
Water is a problem for many in the La Croix area. Many people retrieve irrigation water from this natural spring, but the water is unsuitable for drinking and requires long transport by bucket to reach the dry fields. We hope to install new wells with pumps and gravity-driven irrigation systems.
We climbed a nearby hill to investigate the prospects for placing a large water tank on top of the hill and using gravity to send water down to the local farms. We might even be able to use a windmill to pump water up the hill to the tank. The local children were eager to follow us on our adventures.
A young girl on top of the hill, with a view of the valley where she lives in the background.
Many of the local children climbed the hill with bare feet, despite the many prickers that managed to go all the way through the soles of my tennis shoes.
After La Croix, we visited the nursery in Passe-Reine, which is managed by Joel who is also the head of the local youth organization.
We collected mango trees for a tree distribution in Gonaives, carrying them down a narrow path from the nursery to the car.
Luckily, we had lots of little helpers!
This little boy was so proud to help out that he would carry a tree to the car and then run all the way back to the nursery, shouting "Beep! Beep!" at the rest of us who were along the path.
Another little helper.
Pastor Josue was like a proud father with a trunk full of little mango seedlings.
We distributed mango trees to university students in Gonaives. I explained the history of the trees going back to the original nursery that was flooded in the 2008 hurricanes.
I handed out a bag of compost to each student.
Michael handed out a mango tree to each student.
They were excited to get the trees (and have their photos taken!).
Showing off their trees.
Two young men with their mango trees.
Mango on motorcycle: they brought their mango trees home however they could.
Some got very creative.
Preval and Pastor Josue were excited, too.
The next day, we distributed the extra mango seedlings at a local church.
People of all ages came to get a tree.
The young man with a broken arm was determined to carry his mango tree himself.
The people were mocking this little mango tree, so Michael and I tried to convince them that it just needed a bit of love--like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree!
We had one taker.
It wasn't all about trees during our trip. We also helped clean and reorganize the mission's school library (under Michael's expert guidance). Benjy, one of my friends and former English students, came to help us every day and agreed to oversee the library after we left.
In addition, we delivered 3 suitcases worth of school supplies and toys to Cherline, the head of the mission's kindergarten. Every time Cherline said, "Thank you," we'd say, "Wait, there's more!" and open another suitcase, much to her delight. The supplies were donated by my elementary school-- St. Mary's School in Richland Center, Wisconsin.
One of our last mornings, we got up before sunrise to go watch the fishermen at their work.
We discovered the path beneath our feet was made up entirely of shells.
Walking on water.
Preparing to head out onto the lake.
The fishermen pose with a young woman staying at the mission. She was born in Haiti but moved to France when she was less than 4 years old. This was her first time back in Haiti.
Walking back to the mission.
A last look at the mission's jatropha trees before leaving.
Mmmm. . . mango
Gorgeous. We made a quick stop at the beach on our way back to the airport.
The beach at Club Indigo, the former Club Med of Haiti.
Next time, we're staying here!