Sophie’s Story | “I have had the opportunity to see the different sides to this beautiful country”

With just three weeks left in Haiti, Sophie O’Sullivan tells us what a typical day therelooks like for her, from carrying out surveys and completing paperwork to showing visitors around our projects. Sophie has been working with our team in Haiti over the past few months as part of her studies in University College Cork (UCC)’s International Development and Food Policy programme, and, as she writes her, her view of Haiti has changed in the time she’s been there.

I’ve been spending the last two weeks travelling between Port au Prince, Cavaillon and Île à Vache. Seeing as I am only here for another three weeks, I’m trying to make sure all my work is up to date.  It’s hard to believe how fast my time with Haven is going.

When I’m in Port au Prince, I spend the majority of my time in the office, unless we have visitors, when we show them the various programmes that Haven has become involved in throughout the years.   The majority of the paperwork I have is done there.

In Cavaillon then, I spend my time both on the Christine Farm and out around the town, working on housing assessments after Hurricane Matthew.  It has been interesting work and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result.  Last week on the Christine Farm, we hosted the Economy Program Manager from Hope for Haiti, as well as a group of university students and professors from both the United States  (US) and Port au Prince.  We spent the visits showing them around the farm and telling them its history.

While I’m working throughout the week, the weekends vary.  I spend most of my weekends on Île à Vache, so there’s lots of walking.  Walking in 30 degrees heat can be tough, but, when the Caribbean Sea is at your doorstep, it makes it that bit nicer.  There are so many beautiful places to visit on the island; Grand Plaine, La Hatte, L’Anse a L’Eau, and Kay Kok to name a few.  A few of our friends organised a trip on a local fishing boat which was really good, the proper Haiti experience.

What words come to mind when you hear “Haiti”?  We all have different images and perceptions of the country due to what we have seen or heard in the media in the last number of years.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that the images that I had before coming here are somewhat different to reality.

Poverty can be seen as soon as you leave the airport.  In every town you drive through on your way to the south, there are vendors out on the road selling their produce: banane, peanuts, rice, chicken etc. Behind all of thi,s though, is the beautiful scenery: mountains, the coastline, crops, such as sugarcane, corn and rice growing in field after field, and the beautiful coconut trees that go on for miles.

I feel that when people hear “Haiti”, a lot of the time they think of the negatives.  From hiking the mountains up north in Kenscoff and walking the beaches on Île à Vache to shopping in the local markets in the south, I feel that I have had the opportunity to see the different sides to this beautiful country.

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