Ailish O’Reilly, our Programmes Manager in Haiti, tells us of a busy month in May as the team prepare to close out a number of our projects, and says goodbye to our Country Director, John Moore.
Our calendar of projects is all converging, and May is a month of focusing on the close-out of programmes as they near completion. Closing a project is an important learning process. It helps identify strengths and weaknesses; and it allows us to acknowledge achievements and plan for improvement. It can be a laborious task and definitely not as exciting as the initial stages of project activity.
We are in month seven of our post-hurricane housing repair programme with a target to finish in June. The material has to come across to Île à Vache from Les Cayes on a large wooden cargo boat, about 40 foot long and, if you were to stand in to it, about 9 foot deep. The team buy the material, load it in Les Cayes, and then the boat comes overnight to arrive at the wharf early the next morning. With variable weather and rough seas, we postponed a few times and, despite precautions, the rain costs us 30 bags of cement. We take full advantage of any fine weather. The team also spent two days in Cavaillon doing housing evaluations around the Christine Farm, with a chance to bring some help to people in this area.
Remarkably, in the midst of two weeks of rain and high wind, the clouds part for two days of the patron saint festival for Île à Vache. It is a huge celebration for the island, with all civic groups involved in the planning and preparation. As the festivities come to an end, the clouds return, and it rains for a solid week until Flag Day, 18 May, a national holiday in Haiti where they celebrate their flag and what it represents for the country.
Having been housebound for most of the week, I hike across to Kaykok. Forgoing the crossing of the coconut log, I opt to wade through the mangrove water where the high water level has carved a channel in the beach.
Being able to move around means visiting the schools in our repair programme, where the school principals are happy with the repairs. In the case of Gran Sab, our work has brought three classrooms back to being fully functional.
The women in Chache Lavi are also approaching the final phase of their programme. There are 14 participants now ready to graduate. Another 14 will also finish Accompaniment phase over the summer, and we plan to hold a group graduation later in the year. It is good encouragement for the 11 participants about to launch their new businesses. The team are busy getting the paperwork and contracts sorted so we can launch all 11 in one week.
As the two year anniversary of the programme approaches, this is the best celebration we could hope for.
May brings one other celebration, a poignant one, but also a chance to bring together friends and colleagues to wish our Country Director, John Moore,bon voyage on his retirement from the role and to acknowledge the many achievements during his tenure. We wish him every success for the future and look forward to his next visit to Haiti!