Our temporary location
Our party (consisting of Patti, John, Kristin, Sully, Cindy and Pierre) left the town of Pichon on July 16, 2015, the last stop on a journey that took us from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic and into Haiti where we are building a library in Belle Anse.
We left Pichon in the middle of the Mount Carmel celebration as the noise of the festivities slowly faded away. The sun was still shining when we began the perilous decline of the rocky slope that would lead us to the town of Belle Anse. It took several minutes of driving erratically along bumpy roads before we could see the town in the distance below. The view of Belle Anse, whose name means “Beautiful Shore,” offers a thrilling panorama – what a treat! The town is located at sea level, its shorelines adorned with white sand, coconut trees, polished and glittering stones. The waves of blue ocean water crash ashore with a loud noise before lazily returning to the sea with a wailing sound.
Belle Anse, a town of approximately 50,000 people, one of the poorest places in Haiti and on earth, has many pressing and dire needs. The people need food, clean water, hygiene and sanitation. The landscape has lost 98% of its tree cover, and the place has become vulnerable to flood erosion and landslides any time the rains come. A year ago MOSOBEL, a grass roots organization whose members work together on ways to improve the lives of those who live in and around the community, approached Cindy and I with a surprising request to assist them in building a Library in Belle Anse. Why a community library one might ask? As our friend Katie Donovan said, “In a context of deep poverty, everything is priority, any place where one starts is going to impact the poverty cycle and eventually break it.” I believe that to be true. Here are a few reasons why building a library in Belle Anse is a pressing need:
• Education remains a challenge in Belle Anse. The state government runs and operates only one elementary and one secondary school for the whole town and classes are full.
• The schools themselves are ill-equipped to provide the children with a meaningful education having only a few books in French available to use, while students understand and speak Haitian Creole.
• A library would provide a place where residents would be able to borrow books in French, Creole, and English both for educational purposes and for pleasure.
• The building would provide a readily available place for workshops on educational, environmental, cultural and technical topics and provide opportunities to acquire life skills desperately needed for the development of a community.
Will access to books and the building of a community library provide a path to a better life and help break the cycle of poverty? We believe that it will! That is why we are building a library in Belle Anse.