Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Limonade, Haiti - February 15, 2010

By Sam Usem, CTI Volunteer, Haiti

It has been a few days that I have been here now. My first couple of days were spent ensuring the Meds & Food For Kids ( had all of the support of CTI that they needed. Since then I have been establishing CTI within the existing NGO community, attending UN cluster and logistics meetings, and setting up sites to visit.

I have learned one thing for certain thus far. No matter what you have planned for you day in Haiti, it will change ten times over before it even begins. I have spent the last two days with Gabrielle, the country director of Sonje Ayiti ( a non-profit based in Cap-Haitian that does everything from micro-financing and farming projects to immediate food aid and coordinating medical teams. On Monday I got to know the organization better and helped to ferry around medical teams while visiting different small subsistence farms along the drive. With limited resources at the moment one jumps at any chance they can for a free ride.

Today I spent the morning with the RAVAFAL women’s group in Limonade, about 8km east of Cap-Haitian. The co-op group has been making small chocolates for hot cocoa to sell in Haiti and is trying to begin an export business. When they hear through the grapevine about our grinders, it seemed to be a perfect fit. The Ewing III grinder has never been used for cocoa beans before, but the only way to know is to try. With about 15 women from the group in attendance we covered the maintenance on the grinder and then got right to work.

The grinder worked like magic, and before I knew it, the group had ground 10 kilos of cocoa beans. In the recipe includes nutmeg and cinnamon before they put the chocolate into a mold, freeze, and then into package it. The long term plans are to build a small factory based on CTI grinders and sell the hard cocoa candies to make hot chocolate in Haiti and the U.S.

After meeting with the co-op, I traveled to a few of the farming sites that Sonje Ayiti has in the community to see if other CTI technologies could be of use. They have over 60 acres that are owned by a co-op, and while at the moment they are only growing vegetables, grain is coming in the future and thus a place for CTI devices.
After returning to Cap-Haitian I visited the Meds & Food for Kids factory and helped load 1,000 kilos of Medika Mamba into the Sonje Ayiti truck to be taken to malnourished children in Leogane, an area just outside of Port Au Prince that hit hard by the quake.

In Haiti at the moment, most people are living second-by-second approaching each issue as they come up. While it is important to address these it is all the more important that we do not forget about the next couple of months. It is good to know that the day can start by building long term solutions and end by sending aid to where it is needed most. The rain has started and so I am off to my room, before another day of begins with the sun and changes as quickly as it moves.

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