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6682: University of Oklahoma Haiti Trip (fwd)

From: qret6394 <pharris@ou.edu>

Well folks I have returned to Oklahoma after high adventures in Haiti
with two OU students. So much to tell I hardly know where to begin. From
the outset we were delayed by bad weather stateside and by lost baggage
that finally arrived two days after the students. My sincerest thanks to
Richard Morse for his help and encouragement throughout those trying
days. Also thanks to everyone we met on the veranda of the Oloffson who
shared their stories, their laughter, and pearls of wisdom. We did get
to see RAM perform and that was worth the delay in our original plans.

The first leg of our journey took us the length of the country to Lakou
DeReal located near Limonad. DeReal was reopened a little over five
years ago by my friend Ingrid who left Haiti at 16 years of age by way
of a leaky boat. Since then she returns for several months out out of
the year to help develop her community. She has planted Mapou trees that
are thriving, has constructed a small thatch roof hotel of ten cement
floor rooms, has installed a generator that provides lights to the
community nightly, and is in the process of trying to establish a small
health clinic there. Her accompishments are nothing short of miraculous
and I encourage folks to pay the place a visit...it's worth it.

The second half of our trip took us Lakou Badjo near Gonaives to
participate in the annual Ogou Badagri fete. I was there two years ago
and was astounded at how much things have worsened in that region. the
mountains are completely stripped, the river stands still and fetid and
my friends look as if they have aged about ten years since I last saw
them. Many of the children were emaciated. I prediect that if things do
not change for the better and soon the area will be another Ethiopia
within a year.We are talking famine.

I want to take a minute to thank a few other individuals without whose
help this trip would have failed..Jacquiline Labrom who was there for us
at every turn and Father Phillip from the Wings of Hope who provided the
vehicle,driver and prayers for a safe trip.

Over the next few weeks I am sure I will have more to say about my
observations and experiences. For now,a that's it.

Patti K. Harris
University of Oklahoma