After a speedy recovery from my ankle fracture, I have managed to abandon Canada, once again. This time, for Haiti! I am doing a 10 mont internship in World Vision Canada (WVC), although I am actually working in the World Vision Haiti (WVH) office in Port-au-Prince for more than half of that time. My trip there was delayed by about a month and a half due to my broken ankle but that time was not lost! I got to learn a lot of what goes on in the WVC office and I had a lot of time to read a lot about Haiti and the development initiatives & challenges in place.
Why am I doing this?
I have always been interested in people and how we relate to our environment and so I am constantly looking for work and academic opportunities that allow me to explore these relationships. This time is not different. I am working in Humanitarian Emergency Affairs & Disaster Risk Reduction, which involves helping communities cope with risks associated with their environment. It's a mixture of community development and disaster preparedness. It’s very exciting work for me.
I also think this is a great way for me to start (or at least try out) a career in international development. Not to mention that I'm getting paid for it! In these sour times for recent grads, that's a major bonus...
Honestly, I feel really good about everything so far. Port-au-Prince reminds me a lot of San Salvador, where I was born and raised. In both places you have an omnipresence of mango trees, economic inequality, and terrifying traffic. I haven't had the chance to go to the field very much but I did hit up some touristic spots in Jacmel and the Côte-des
Work is going well. My field manager and I are getting along and truly working together, it helps that we have a similar background in environmental studies. I'm still getting the hang of things but I am already collaborating on cool DRR projects. At times it can be a challenge to figure out how my responsibilities fit in with other initiatives in place, especially since the office is going through a lot of changes -- from a post earthquake focus on relief to long-term programming. A good thing is that my colleagues (including my field manager) seem to understand the Haitien context very well and will often give me a hand with things...
Our accommodations are quite comfortable. I share a flat close to the office with a fellow intern, which is good for company, and we each get our own space.
I must say I was surprised by how the food is a bit too expensive -- by how everything is a bit too expensive. Well, at least I can find everything I want in the supermarket (Port-au-prince 1-0 Périgueux). $4 for bbq pringles? Why not? #yolo. And I have re-discovered a lot of food that I used to enjoy in El Salvador, except for green mangoes. I am still on the hunt for those!
The only difficult issue is transportation. Because of security concerns, we can't ride on tap-taps (the main means of public transportation) so we must rely on office cars or other people to get around. On weekends, it can be a bit of a hassle but so far we haven't had much trouble finding a ride. Hopefully that won't pose any problems in the future.
Well it ain't berlin you know, but there is fun stuff to do. I can't say I am disappointed because I wasn't expecting Port-au-prince to be crazy party central anyways (maybe it is and I'm just a loser, though). There are plenty of beautiful beaches, which more than make up for the lack of nightlife, and also the occasional awkward house party/networking opportunity. Oh, and Netflix here is better than in Canada so on that front, Haiti 1-0 Canada.
Finally, I thought that I would be able to get by with my french but most people here speak (or prefer to speak) creole so I'm trying to get some creole lessons!
**Keep in mind that I have only been here for about a week so there’s definitely more to see and to experience. Scroll down for some pictures**
|Kenep or "mamones"|
|Kabic beach in Jacmel|
|Kabic beach in Jacmel|
|DRR game during a community event hosted by the Department of Public Protection|
|Kibby or Kibbi -- what I thought was a Haitian dish it's also Lebanese!|
|The view from my rooftop|
|Indigo Club, Cote des Arcadins|
|Found Peruleros! Whattup|