Building Relationships In Haiti

Connor Stack 2018 First Haiti Blog

I had some small preconceived notions before coming to Haiti as I had been with Sewanee once before during the spring break of 2017. During this spring break trip I do believe a lot of work got completed, but the level of Haitian immersion was an aspect that I did not foresee. During the spring break trip there were 14 students and 2 teachers while during this summer there are 6 Sewanee students and 2 Sewanee teachers, half of the group size as previously. With the larger group talking within the group was more common and I guess I felt there was protection in numbers. With a smaller group everyone is put even more out of their comfort zone, and in doing so integrate better into Haitian culture, then again it is only the beginning.

One of the ways I truly experienced this was during the distribution of carbon payments to Bois Joli. Our motley crew’s third day in Haiti was spent hiking up Bois Joli to distribute carbon payments. After getting to the summit to get to work our team split up and each had a different role during the distribution. Some people were doing surveys for the payments, some were taking photos of the farmers post-payment,  and some were getting the farmers to sign official documents. My job was to shake each farmers hand, hand them their payment, and a task that I personally gave myself; remember the faces and names of the 45+ farmers that we will be working with for the rest of the time that we will be there. Faces and names has been something that I’ve always struggled with my entire life, but as I shook the friendly hands of the Bois Joli farmers, the true primary effort here is to maintain the relationship with these farmers.

Without the relationship the project fails and nothing gets done. This applies to every person working with Zanmi Lasante, Zanmi Foto, and Zanmi Agrikol. I don’t see the relationship failing. Everyone here working on the project on the Zanmi and Sewanee side of things wants to be there and help and get things done, and on the side of the farmers they all seemed genuinely happy to see us, meet us, and get their photos taken. Going forward in the next weeks I cannot wait to continue not only our work here in Haiti, but building relationships with all the Haitians we meet here.

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