I’m Nuala Falvey and I travelled solo to Haiti on March 23rd. After a stopover in New York, and after the usual jeep journey to Le Caye, I arrived on Il a Vache on Sunday evening 24th March. This was my fourth trip to Haiti and my first trip travelling alone. I stayed within the community in a lovely house near the top of the hill from the orphanage. My neighbours Jean Claude, his wife Wilesene and their children were delighted to see me and through a mixture of hand gestures and my poor leaving certificate french we were able to communicate and became firm friends. They couldn’t do enough for me and sat out with me in the evenings, not sure who was keeping who company!
Living within the community was new to me and at the start of the week I wasn’t sure how it would work out but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. The day in Haiti begins at 5.30am with the cockerels and the goats (no need for an alarm clock!!) and the clattering from the kitchen where the women start preparing food and cleaning their homes. The women spend all day everyday doing the same work and while it wouldn’t be for me, this is their culture and they appear happy to me and take great pride in keeping their homes clean and tidy and looking after families. They live a very simple life and I thought a lot about the value of this during my week on Il a Vache. Wilesene went to Le Caye one day to get supplies and when she returned that evening she handed me the most beautiful red apple, I was really touched because this was a real gift from her to me.
My work in the orphanage was to clear out a store room full of supplies, nappies, medical supplies, building tools and other equipment that came in on a container. I had help from some of the local lads so we got the job done in a couple days. This allowed me to spend time playing with the kids and also to sort out more donated clothes that arrived for the children.
In the evenings I went out and about with local man and friend Calise, he showed me around and gave me a spin back up the hill on his moto ( motorbike) each evening (much appreciated!) He also couldn’t do enough for me and I was really well looked after. Cailse told me he loved the Irish and would welcome them to come and stay in his home anytime. The plan on Thursday was to take a tour of the island on his moto but as it is the rainy season in Haiti, it rained very heavily for over 2hours, unfortunately this meant that Cailse could not take out the moto because the tracks became too mucky, so went on a shorter trip on Friday morning. I really loved seeing more of the island which was surprisingly green and flat inland. I was able to see all the beautiful colourful homes of the locals and the stunning views from the one local beach. I’ve been promised a full tour of the island when I return in July.
I wasn’t sure what my week on Il A Vache was going to be like and it was certainly different to travelling with ESPWA, but I was really happy to experience the Haitian way of life and have made some true friends forever.