Updates from Haiti – A busy few weeks!

Greetings from Terrier Rouge, Haiti! My name is Marie Dumont, and Jean-Christophe (JC) Taillandier and we are the two interns working for ISCA on their poultry production project here in Northern Haiti. We were welcomed to the country with Lloyd Dalziel, director of ISCA, who took the long trip to Port-au-Prince from Charlottetown, and the even longer trip from the capital to Terrier Rouge with us. We’ve been introduced to our partners at Chalice, and have met the families who have received chicken coops from this project. With Lloyd returning to Canada after a week, the two of us has been busy selecting new families to receive chicken coops, ordering materials, and getting construction started. Now we are beginning our second week of work, and while a lot has been done, there’s still a lot left to do.

But first, I’ll explain how I arrived here. I’m finishing my Master’s degree in international development at the University of Ottawa. I’ve taken courses in foreign aid, economics, policy, theories of development, and politics. I have a strong academic interest in development projects, yet my résumé lacks experience working in this field. I applied for this internship, as I know it would help build my experience and skills as a development practitioner and would enable me to apply my knowledge for this project. This internship is through the International Youth Internship Program, funded by Global Affairs Canada, offering six-month internships to Canadian youth age 19 – 30 as part of Canada’s youth employment strategy. ISCA partners with the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), which organizes some of our training and logistics. We had a fantastic week of training with the other 19 ACIC interns who, like us, were preparing to go abroad for the next six months. That training feels like it was so long ago now, but friendships were made that I am sure will last a life time.

img_5911Although training for this internship was comprehensive and thorough, nothing can prepare us for the work that needs to be done in Haiti. My first observation is that work can happen quite quickly in Haiti, with our orders coming in earlier than expected, the wonderful carpenter, Wilfred, working quickly and organizing other carpenters to help. On the other hand, small obstacles like the price of chicks suddenly increasing by 1 gourde (about 2 Canadian cents), intermittent internet outages (as we are experiencing now), an increase in the cost of gas, or an unexpected delay on the arrival of the chicks, can have greater impact than when working in Canada.

Here’s some of the progress that has been made. With the 17 families that already have already received chicken coops, eight would be receiving chicks. The chicks were to arrive Monday; therefore we thought we would work on the weekend to ensure we were prepared for their arrival. We went with their adviser, Kency, to get rice hulls, which the families use as bedding for the chickens. We are able to access the rice hulls cheaply, but getting it is a bit of a process. First, all of the bags must be collected from the families, as they are re-used every time. Then, with a trike buggy, we head to the massive hill of rice hulls. JC and I looked at the big hill, and the bags we had to fill, and wondered how all of these bags were going to be filled. Kency had a solution. The many children that were around the area gathered around the buggy and began filling the many bags with rice hulls. It was fun for them! After, Kency gave them a tip of 5 gourdes each. Then it was time to transport the 16 bags back to Terrier Rouge to distribute to the families. Needing to stop only three times because the bags were falling off, we finally were able to distribute the bags to the families in Terrier Rouge and Grand Bassin. As it turns out, the chicks won’t arrive until September 22nd, but at least we’re prepared

We’ve also selected 5 new families that will receive chicken coops on their property. Construction with Wilfrid and his team has begun. Arriving at 6:30 am when his shift started at 8 am, it was clear that he was eager to begin building. He hired two workers to help, and after the first day, the first coop was nearly done. He’s not finished two and onto the third. The families are actively helping in the construction. It is clear they are excited about having the coops.