Decompressing after our final full day in Haiti. Today started early and was jam packed with new experiences. We met with Nadine of the TOYA Foundation first thing in the morning and drove with her to scout out a potential location for our Innovation Hub. We drove high into the mountains and arrived at the site. It is located behind a local school, and next to a large all girls school that is being built. It is high enough in the mountains that you get a view of the hills and it is close to the local transportation system. We walked in and immediately fell in love. The site is in a former house and has four big rooms, and light, light, light everywhere.
What can I say about Nadine? She is a force. She is warm, caring, powerful, magnetic, thoughtful and driven. We recorded her giving us a tour of the space, and sharing her hopes for the Innovation Hub. She wants there to be a space for cooking and eating together, a library, a club space, an office space, a play space and, thoughtfully, a cyber cafe and telephone hub so that people in the surrounding community can come to the center and pay for those services so that there is a revenue stream. She said, "I want the girls to have access to the Internet, because then they have access to all the world." She gets it.
Next we drove to visit Children of Haiti Project on site. Pam met the founder, Dominique, when she was in Colombia. Dominique runs a school servicing children from a nearby tent city. She also runs her school out of an abandoned house -- something that is very common here in Haiti after many people left their homes post-earthquake. We walked in the school, and it was a haven. Trees, plants, green everywhere. An beautiful graffiti mural on the wall by Jerry, a famous Haitian graffiti artist. She feeds the children two meals a day; a snack and a multivitamin. The teachers are warm, active and interactive. It is a special place.
Next, Dominique took us to the tent city where her students are from. These "cities" are made of USAID tarps nailed to wooden frames. These temporary shelters have become permanent homes; many people even paint their tarps pink and cut beautiful stenciled windows into them. Dominique took us to one of her student's homes. The little girl's name is Givelove. She lives with her mother and father in a lean-to type tent that is the size of a standard two person sleeping tent pitched on three sticks over gravel -- no floor. They sleep, cook and live in this tent. There is no door, there is a wall missing on one side. These children and families in Dominique's school network are living in conditions that are not fit for any living creature to live in and they have been for more than three years now. It is unfathomable and yet it exists. Thankfully these children have a beautiful school to go to. A school that is peaceful, beautiful and full of joy.
A great, full day in Haiti.