Jonathon Cairns took part in Haven’s 2013 Volunteer Programme on Île à Vache. Here, in his daily updates, he shared all the latest progress and developments from the day.
Today was another great work day. We suffered several injuries but nothing serious.
This morning, I had my second fitness class. It was a sweltering 36°C outside, but the students are getting enthusiastic now and came into school today with a change of clothes for the class. Getting the school uniform dirty is not an option. We had use of the canteen (which doubles as two classrooms as they are short of space) which made it much easier to have a full Basecamp Fitness style class.
Haiti was the first slave colony to revolt and gain independence. Toussaint l’Ouverture was the leader of the slave rebellion in 1791 (table quiz last night!).
In 2004, the military and police were disbanded. The United Nations (UN) took over, as the country was falling apart. It took six and a half years to organise proper elections and, in 2011, a government and president were elected. Michel Martelly, the president, is also a famous Haitian singer that goes by the name of ‘Sweet Micky’; I kid you not!
Since the elections, Haiti has been relatively stable. When I was here in 2009, we had countless UN soldiers protecting us. This trip, we have only one full-time security guard.
The locals are athletic, extremely handsome and lovely people. Like the Irish, here, they are quick to laugh. Those who don’t know us by name call us Blanco. I’m guessing that means white. And why wouldn’t they, we are embarrassingly white and sweatbuckets, much to their amusement.