Planting a sustainable future for Haiti: update #2 from David Lachance

Clockwise from top right: David's motorcycle, which he rides through four-feet deep streams(!); a young girl who needs surgery for polydactyly; David and his team are rebuilding an access road to Visitation Clinic

Bon Appétit Management Company team member David Lachance is spending two months in Haiti building a sustainable garden to nourish the local community in Petite Riviere de Nippes, a small rural village four hours outside of Port-au-Prince. Even with severe weather – and still without his tiller – David and his team of local Haitians are making progress on the garden. Read his full update below.

The mission has changed…temporarily.  The tiller has not passed through customs and there seems to be confusion about what stage it’s in…it was shipped 6 weeks ago and I’m only now starting to see the pace that things work here in Haiti.  Slowwww.  Heavy bureaucracy…lots of paperwork…and greasing of the skids…but the work continues.  We begin today using basic tools to begin…hoes, one shovel and labor. 

I have hired 10 Haitians who work about 6 hours a day for 200 goudes, almost $5.00 per day.  For the past week we have been rebuilding an access road to the Visitation Clinic (, the road stretches about a 1/8 of a mile up hill.  When I left Petit Riv last week for Port au Prince, the rains had washed out the road leading to the clinic.  This seems to be a regular occurrence.  Though no engineer, we have purchased $120.00 of rocks from the sea and burlap sacks for sea sand plus palm tree trunks to try to stem the runoff from the rain.  We carry the huge rocks in a single wheel barrow or on in our arms or the ladies carry theirs on their head with perfect balance.  They have yet to complain, though I did have to pay the first day upfront…from now on, payday is Friday and we only work a half day…David’s rule.  Haitians are great negotiators.  When I asked about the price for the sea stone, it was $120.00 and I said OK…it immediately went to $150.00…I turned and was about to walk away and the screamed BLAN (white dude).  We settled.  When hiring our team, they wanted me to buy lunch as well but we settled on a higher wage…everyone is happy.  And the road goes on and on…

Today is a holiday, Corpus Christi, honoring the Eucharist…Communion.  On my way to pick up my translator this morning, who lives on the other side of town, I was on our Moto and stopped and saw the children’s parade to the church to celebrate their first communion.  All in their Sunday best.  The clinic is closed today as well.  Our team is only working today until noon. 

Ah the moto you ask?…I’ve attached a picture of our new motorcycle…it’s a Haojin 125cc…made in China.  It cost $965.00 and flies…just kidding, the roads only allow you to cruise in 1st or maybe second gear…the bridges (3) from the clinic to Petit Riv were destroyed during the earthquake so with each crossing, you get soaked…one stream is about 15 feet wide and I swear 4 feet deep…you hit it slow and accelerate half way through.  When I return, the bike will remain with VH for transportation purposes.  Dennis C and Frank L would be jealous of this HOG.

Finally, sadly, I have attached a picture of a 16 month old little girl.  Her name is Jevons Emmanuel Theodore, and she has six toes and six fingers (polydactylie), and she can’t wear shoes.  The Doctor here has asked me to consider paying for her surgery before she gets any older.  We have set up an appointment with a specialist in PaP for tomorrow morning who will let me know how much.  With all of the poverty here, I wonder if it would not be money better spent, to divert some of our collected funds to help in other ways.  I will update you as I know more. 

Remember to ask for Prestige beer and help Haiti (and yourself) 12 ounces at a time!