Haiti 2015 - Days 1 (21st) + 2 (22nd)

Day 1

 Arrival in Haiti... hot, humid but happy! Temperature of around 35C and high humidity... not ideal conditions, but previous experiences in similar climates (e.g. Togo, W. Africa) tell me that the first night in (or rather on) bed is normally the worst in terms of trying to get to sleep and that the body can get a bit more used to it after a few days, as long as you keep well hydrated.

Bro. Jacques in the back of a van with Bro. Lamy, my good friend with whom I did my first year of training to be a Brother 25 yrs. ago (with Bro. Romain from Togo). We will be running activities for pupils from the primary school of which he has been the Head these past few years in Delmas, Port-au-Prince.

Our first meal at the Brothers' community in Delmas.

Day 2

We spent the morning of our first full day resting from the journey, settling in to our new surroundings and getting some of our equipment and resources ready for the beginning of our "mini-camp" with the primary school children tomorrow. 

The Brothers' community house at Delmas.

From tonight onwards our teens have been given permission to sleep in an air conditioned computer room in the school building where they had been given a classroom to sleep in for the first night (not an easy one given the humidity and heat).

The school building where our teens are staying. The whole property, school and community house is guarded 24/7 by a site management team (with guard dogs) that ensure that unwanted visitors are kept away. We certainly feel very safe here.

One of 6 hutches full of oh-so-cute rabbits... that are not kept as pets! ;-(

Brothers James + Francis relaxing in the Brothers' house.

Bro. Jacques likewise.

In the afternoon, Bro. Lamy took us on a driving tour around the capital, Port-au-Prince, to visit various sites, including the site of what was, prior to the 2010 earthquake, the Brothers' flagship secondary school, St. Louis de Gonzague, which counts numerous former Presidents and high ranking officials as former pupils. The only building that still survives is the school chapel (as big as some cathedrals!).

In traffic jams - just like in many parts of Africa - children and adults hang around potential traffic jams junctions offering to wash your windscreens, sell you food, water, phone cards, etc...

In the Brothers' van.

Bro. Lamy took us down what used to be the main commercial thoroughfare in Port-au-Prince which, post-earthquake has become a rubble and rubbish-filled jam of destroyed buildings, African-style improvised pavement market stalls selling anything under the sun (and a lot more besides), multi-coloured "tap tap" taxi vans, recycled American school buses and very few privately-owned vehicles, the whole place crawling with people. Most of the buildings that had existed have not been rebuilt or replaced. Though on one level this experience was rather distressing, one could not help but admire the resilience of this people, their willingness to improvise a living somehow and also - just like in Africa - the fact that in the midst of such chaos and apparent poverty the people still take such pride in their appearance with their colourful clothing and bright jewelry. The people certainly look fit and healthy for the most part... one does wonder how they manage this.

A more normal road elsewhere in the capital.

The former school chapel of the now destroyed St. Louis de Gonzague secondary school.

Inside the chapel.

Visiting another of our schools in the capital, one where Bro. Jacques taught for 3 years 40 years ago. It was rebuilt after the earthquake.

Two naughty pupils

The school entrance. The ruins of the capital's former cathedral can be seen in the background.

A neighbouring plot that the Brothers have purchased which is being transformed into extra playground space.

The ruined cathedral.

Another place on our tour around the capital... the community house of the head De La Mennais Brother in Haiti (the Brother we call the Provincial).

A Brothers' retirement community.

The site of the Brothers' training houses for young Brothers and young would-be Brothers (Juniorate, Postulancy and Noviciate), also used as a spiritual retreat centre and place for meetings. A gorgeous property up one of the small mountains that surround Port-au-Prince, ideal for discerning one's vocation away from the hustle and bustle of the city, before going back to cities, towns and villages to work as Brothers.

The chapel of the training houses.

At the training houses, Bro. Francis meeting for the first time in 60 years a Haitian Brother, Bro. Andre Nicholas, with whom he did his initial training to be a Brother in Jersey.

A mind-blowing sight... a shanty town up the side of a mountain with houses seemingly perched one on top of the other.

Drinks and refreshments, including succulent mangoes and other less well-known fruit (for us Europeans at least)

Aaron polished off a whole pile of these.

The Novices (first year of training to be Brothers), 2 weeks away from their first vows.


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