Dispatches from the Haiti Innovation Hub: Day 1

Greetings from Haiti! It has been a full first day in Port-au-Prince. Peterson (translator, dancer, and charisma captain) arrived this morning to take us to meet Dominique at the Children of Haiti Project (COHP). As a first time visitor to Haiti, the drive itself was a fascinating experience. It's a wonder the cultural snapshots you get from a speeding window. I was particularly fascinated by the number of men carrying bundles on their heads, a job usually reserved for women.

When we arrived at COHP, Dominique gave us a tour of the school, which as has been noted many times before, is beautiful. Dominique herself is immensely passionate about her students. Her eyes welled up as she explained how she was searching for new schooling options for ten of her students moving out of the tent city.

Following our tour we ran a morning LitClub session with approximately 35 students aged six to nine. Besides being unbelievably adorable, they were all incredibly well behaved, engaged, and ready to participate. We left them a copy of Chrysanthemum because they didn't want to stop looking at the pictures (one boy tried to grab the book out of my hands)! A particular highlight was a French song session which somehow miraculously transitioned into a fully choreographed dance routine to Michael Jackson's "Bad".

After lunch we ran a teacher training session with 6 of the COHP teachers. Although they started out rather reserved, after a consecutive series of the Hello Song, the Human Knot, Read Along, West Wind Blows, and oh so many shooting stars, the group opened up and were eagerly participating.

Following the training we launched into a second LitClub session with Dominique's older students. After a wonderful session we met the beautiful women of the Moms Sewing LitClub. Together we sang and made a beautiful communal heart map. Dominique asked the women if anyone would like to share their thoughts on their club. One after one the young women stood and thanked us all for providing them with this life changing opportunity. They each said how much they had learned so far, and how this opportunity was giving them the skills needed to earn a living for their children.

Overall it was a beautiful, overwhelming, exhausting, shooting-star-filled day that is just the start of our Haitian adventure!

--Leah Reiser, LitWorld's Community & Gratitude Cultivator