The Many Lessons of Plantains
Bois Joile, Haiti. [photo by Brooke Irvine]
Pradip and Jean Phillipe Saintillus. Bois Jolie, Haiti. [photo by Brooke Irvine]
This is my third summer as a Sewanee intern in Haiti, and I find myself doing a lot of looking back. So much of my experience here has changed over the last few years. When I arrive in Bois Joile now, I am greeted with smiles and questions as to the wellbeing of my family and past interns. The community of there has become familiar. I know the farmers names and over the years, I have met their wives and children. As we walk through their fields, the farmers teach me about various plants. I can recognize different varieties of plantain; (I didn’t even know there was more than one), and the farmers have taught me which leaves make a tea to calm an upset stomach. I meanwhile have seen the pride on a farmer’s face as they bring out their family photo albums, and it fills me with joy to see what they have accomplished with the tools and training provided by Zanmi Foto.
The more I reminisce the greater importance I attribute to these seemingly commonplace events. I recognize now that what is remarkable about the work Sewanee is doing here in Haiti, is the relationships we are building. These relationships are built on the mutual growth of understanding. The farmers have let me be a part of their lives, and constantly introduce me to new parts of their world. It is this exchange of knowledge, recognition of one another’s worth, and sharing of the human experience that makes what we do here about so much more than just photography and reforestation.