A blog by Dan Moen
For the next five or six hours while taking a short tour of Port-Au-Prince (PAP) on Sunday, I felt a certain amount of uncomfortableness. As we drove through the streets, some paved and most not, I felt some comfort driving in caravan to our first destination. There was always the question, “If we are driving in caravan is there some danger? Most of the larger buildings in PAP were in compounds; meaning they were surrounded by 10 foot fences. When we left the Palm INN this morning there was a fairly serious looking armed guard at our motel compound. I let the tension pass because there was so much to see and learn about. It helped that we were accompanied by our leaders/interpreters/drivers. They all seem to know what they were doing. I saw Rebecca and our interpreter haggle with the gas station attendant over how to convert Gourdes (Haitian) to dollars. The strong message we received from our leaders and the UU College of Social Justice is that this would be a journey that could be uncomfortable at times but would be made as safe as possible.
Late morning on Sunday we met with the group APROSIFA. The following is taken from their web site. “The acronym APROSIFA stands for Association for the Promotion of Integral Family Health. APROSIFA is a multifaceted organization running a full service community clinic, a day care supporting working machann families, a small school facility for young children, and youth program training teenagers in the visual arts. APROSIFA functions as the largest community center in Carrefour-Feuilles, Port-Au-Prince.” This is where we had brunch brought to us by Chef4Kids (another NGO in various countries). The food was wonderful.
As you read this you should also look at my slide show. You will see my tour of APROSIFA. A couple of years ago, Kathy Glatz from 1st Unitarian was part of a UU Service Committee medical team that visited APROSIFA. She took medical supplies donated by our Church. One of my travelers, Judy (RN) was participant on that 2011 trip. The staff at APROSIFA still remembers and is grateful for the work of that UUSC team. Finally APROSIFA is a UUSC partner and is an example of the kind work they do all over the world.
After brunch we made the 3 hr. ride to the Papaye Peasant Movement or MPP central compound in Sant Lakay. The mostly paved road led out of PAP up into the mountains and eventually to the central highlands of Haiti. This is where we would stay for the next week. It was breath fresh to be in our new temporary home. It felt like being a part of a farm collective or summer church camp where we had been plenty to learn and do. I never felt unsafe in the central highlands of Haiti.