Friday was the first of May. In Haiti that date is like Labor Day and Arbor Day rolled into one. But it’s not celebrated with barbecues. In fact, for many years it was simply a day when schools didn’t function. This year people in the little town of Pas-bwa-dòm had several possibilities from which to choose.
Our church youth group traveled to a ‘beach’ several kilometers west of here. I’ve ridden by the sign to this beach many times but never visited. We paid a few dollars and were free to spend the day there. There was soft sand, palm trees, coconut-branch pavilions and plastic lounge chairs. They were selling food, but we brought our own. We swam, we played soccer, we sat together while a member of the church taught a lesson about the environment and what we can do to improve it. Not a bad way to spend a day.
Then, a group of young adults organized a morning full of events at the local national school. People taught sessions about the environment and agriculture. One of the folks who taught is a former student of the WFL school. At that program, people left with a tree in hand.
And then, in the evening, Pas-bwa-dòm had its first ‘fair’. It was a small affair, but it was a fair. Local people came and displayed things that they make. There was a mango/rum drink. There was home-made wine from a tree seed. There were candies, and crafts. I got there kind of early and noticed that the young kids didn’t have much happening for their age, so I organized a few impromptu activities: bicycle obstacle course, wheelbarrow race, etc. Then, they interviewed the folks who had brought home-made stuff and we all stood and listened to that. The evening ended with some local artists singing and rapping along with recordings. It was a healthy, community affair. It’s happened a couple of times now where this community gets together and if feels like any organized community anywhere in the world. As a stood and marveled at the progress that’s taken place here, I was humbled. Many of the young adults spear-heading these new, positive activities are former students of the WFL school. They love to come and talk to me about what they are doing, and it’s a joy for me. They love their home town, and are investing in it. I hope I have been a positive influence in that respect. There are now young adults who received a good foundation as kids and who went on to build respectable lives on top of that foundation. When they come back and bless their hometown, it’s a blessing to me.