The following post was written by Kim Duncan, a return participant on the May 2013 UUCSJ service-learning trip to Haiti.
While they say you can’t go home again, that’s only partly true as most of us know. So, my second trip to visit the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) and its eco-village project in the Central Plateau brought with it the familiar and of course, the new, the different, the memorable — and the irreplaceable.
Our group mostly planted trees in the heat of the morning and managed to surround the fifth eco-village with a potential canopy. Seeing how much things had grown in the first eco-village in only one year, I know our little saplings will provide shade next year where there was only sun last week.
We were hot, sweaty, and satisfied. And Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the leader and founder of MPP, told us that our grubby, earthy labors sent an important message to the peasant community. They could visibly see that in spite of our affluence, and frankly our color, we could provide manual labor, in some pretty demanding circumstances — just the way the peasants have to work. Seeing our commitment to their future at such a basic level affirms their goals. And it removes some stigmas regarding our social class — no one is too good to get dirty.
Those words from Chavannes opened my eyes to the value of our partnership. It goes so far beyond the financial support. That was the new. The sweat and the dirt — they were the familiar.