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Beginning of the Adventurous Haiti Trip

Today the group arrived in Port au Prince, Haiti bright and early…and we hit the ground running. First stop, the artisans of Croix des Bouquet. These artisans specialize in creating products out of recycled oil drums. There are over 200 artisan workshops in this village and the group met with several of the artists and shopped for one-of-a-kind items. From decorative tree of life wall hangings and elaborate masks to bracelets and mirrors, the group stocked up!
Our amazing ground operator arranged a traditional lunch for us in the village made up of rice and beans, veggie stew, and plantains. As we enjoyed lunch, we listened to a highly educational presentation by Aid to Artisans. Aid to Artisans helps local artists around the world take their skills and translate them into marketable products. Haiti is now producing tobacco paper items, recycled paper jewelry, obeche wood bowls, soap stone figurines, and all kinds of iron work.
From Croix des Bouquet, we headed straight to the landmark Iron Market of Port au Prince. This structure was rebuilt by the Clinton Global Initiative after the earthquake in its original form. It is a symbol of hope and future prosperity and a source of livelihood for hundreds of small business owners. One side of the market sells produce, toiletries, and home items for locals. The other side houses hundreds of artisan booths selling anything from canvas paintings to woodwork statues to leather shoes. What seemed to intrigue our group the most were the multiple booths selling voodoo ceremony items. We used the time in the market to learn about the history of Catholicism and Voodoo throughout Haiti and left utterly amazed. Many of us purchased unique items that hold special meaning in Voodoo as a symbol of what we learned on this trip. Stop by TVE as Kelly will probably have some near her desk!
In the afternoon, our guide, Genesis, took us to Camp Adokin. Camp Adokin is the second largest IDP Camp in Port au Prince. Genesis is the camp president and resides over 30,000 camp residents. The group visited local businesses including a hair salon, a new jewelry business, and the beginnings of a cyber cafe. We heard a presentation by Bridge2Haiti based in England. This group partnered with Indianapolis based Fountains of Hope to install a water purification system in Camp Adokin. We learned how the system worked and also visited the one and only uber-shelter in Haiti! After a quick visit to the camp’s music studio and a tour by the leader of a local rap group, we headed back to the hotel for check in and rest time. Welcome dinner at Presse Cafe tonight!