Saturday has its traditions. For many years, we have used it for R&R before the day long journey home. So after a final chat with a group from San Antonio over a leisurely breakfast, we finished packing. Our the first attempt to make weight didn't make it. We were moving to another residence for the night. A 39 member group is arriving later in the day. We will head lover to Domond's home this evening.
Traditionally, we spend the day at Visa Lodge, a quaint hotel a few minutes away. They offer a buffet and swim combo, internet access, usually, but not today, and a large pool deck on which to host visitors and enjoys the amazing view. This is the day old students and coworkers drop by and we meet candidates for our scholarship program H.E.A.R.
Today is no different.
The first is Machena, a young woman we met last year. At our first meeting, she spoke little English and was very quiet and shy. Today she spoke very good English and was a bit more outgoing. She told us she's followed our advice and has completed a 3 month English immersion program and scored a 5.5 on her IELTS test. Dedication and a strong desire for education can found everywhere across Haiti. We are hoping to find an opportunity for her, but attending school locally has become increasingly difficult.
Next, we were joined by Oscar, a former staff member at Louverture Cleary Ecole. He is currently working in logistics for another NGO out of Michigan. It was nice to see him after nine years.
That is the end and flow of our last day in Haiti. Eating, talking, dreaming, swimming, drinking water from a glass and not a bottle, and flushing toilets. It's the little things that make visiting the Lodge special.
The group arriving at Matthew 25 was delayed, so our plans changed. We stayed later than expected, but the time was filled by a conversation with a gentleman called Piglet -- because his father was called Porky. For 18 years, he's owned a well digging operation in Haiti, drilling 70 wells per year. He is quite a character, as you'd expect of a man named Piglet.
After a few hours of chatting we had another visitor. Msgr. Pierre Andre Pierre arrived unexpectedly with Marilyn, from the parish of St. Francis de Salles, in Delmas. The church was created from the ruins of many local churches that collapsed in the 2010 earthquake. We shared our plans with Marilyn, who happens to be a PhD in agriculture. More discussion of our vision left us pleased. One takeaway for me was her smile when we said BonZeb has a mandate to pay our employees 20% over the current minimum government wage, and no less that $5 per day. She told us that that was a generous wage for field hands, who often make less than $1 per day. That is one reason our staff is so happy to have us in the zone. They told us many wonderful stories during our visit. We look forward to sharing them once they are translated.
This visit ended well after dark. Once Domond arrived we drove to his house, a beautiful home with tiled floors, wood accents, and a beautiful courtyard. It would make a great airbnb. Domond and his wife were perfect hosts and we relaxed a bit after a cold water rinse. It was another day filled with surprises and conversations. Now it is time to sleep.