Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cassava mill & bread

UCI has a cassava mill to encourage local food production, to move away from reliance on the rice imported from the US. The women peel the manioc root with spoons, it’s soaked in water, ground in the mill, pressed to squeeze out water, then ground again. Salt and other things (sugar etc.) can be added to the flour before it is cooked on large metal plates over coals. The best is when coconut is layered in the middle.

Here’s a recipe for the closest I could get to making it at home. Experiment with small batches until you get a feel for how much water to add.

Heat cast iron skillet on high. To ½ c of cassava flour add 1T water, mix with fork until moist but crumbly. If it’s pastey it will be unpleasantly moist in the center. Sprinkle onto skillet in about a 3in diameter, scrape all the crumbles into the center or they will burn, & tap down with tip of spatula (not the flat side of spatula or it’ll stick). It will set up and when underside browns, flip it and tap down again with tip of spatula. It’s done when brown on both sides. Variation – make it thinner, add a pinch of coconut on top, then a second pinch of cassava mixture. By then it’ll be brown underneath so flip it and tap down with spatula.

It’s not nearly as good as when they make it. Post a comment if you have a better recipe!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Have motorcycle, will teach. Days 2 & 3

Tuesday Derold the translator took me by motorcycle to Grand Latanier (private school) – farther away on hwy 3 towards Hinche. Gave the principle binocs and pages from the bird guide. Taught in 6 classes: 45 4th graders; ~ 45 5th graders; 25 kindergarteners in same room as 65 1st graders; ~50 2nd graders; Two adjoining rooms of 36 3rd graders in front room and 25 older kids in back room (couldn’t see them all). Done around 9:45a.

Then to the Maranatha church school – about 100 kids meet in the old church (brown uniforms, some from UCI neighborhood). Followed by 45 women in the new church. They seemed to know less than the kids (one called the hawk clip art a bat). Got home around 11:30.

For 45 min. met again with 3 UCI employees – went over basic water chemistry and that testing it will help them figure out what is wrong if there’s a fish kill. They asked about putting in fish ponds. Gave them the ekoloji, deforestation, and science dictionary books in Creole.

Then went to the nutrition center at the end of driveway. About 60 kids, Tana translated. They didn’t listen well. The teacher wasn’t there, it was just to eat.

Wednesday went to 2 schools before my flight. First was Lotbo Bohoc, near the market. I taught there 3 years ago when it was just a nutrition center in a gazebo and again last year. Now it is a school with 2 buildings. Met with ~40 kids (yellow uniforms).

Then stopped at another and went classroom by classroom (forgot to get the name). 8 classes: 13 preteens; 10 5th graders; 9 6-7yr.; 13 3rd graders (with teacher nursing baby); 8 6-yr; 12 8-yr; 8 6-yr who were singing the Ti Zwazo song; 4 cute 2-4-yr olds.

Then I went to the UCI board meeting, had lunch, and flew to Port-au-Prince.

Totals: 7 schools, 2 church groups, 1 nutrition center, 1 group of employees = 880 kids, 30 teens, 51 adults. This doesn’t include the teachers or people along the streets who saw me out birding. Next time bring more handouts!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Teaching Ecology in Haiti

During my second week here in Haiti I am teaching in the schools. I’ll chronicle the experience here.

Curriculum – I'm using laminated visual aids (see post) that I put in one binder so that it’s portable whether I’m walking, on motorcycle, ATV, or truck. I teach that hawks (malfini) eat rats. Even though they also eat chickens, the benefit of eating the rats that eat chicken eggs, rice, and corn far outweighs the loss of chickens. I ask whether the children would rather have rats or malfini. Next I talk about hummingbirds (wanga). There are 4 in Haiti, one of which is in the US (ruby-throated). I come to Haiti to see the other 3 (Antillean mango, Hispaniolan emerald, and the world’s 2nd smallest bird the vervain hummingbird). The wanga pollinate the flowers when they drink the nectar. Finally, we talk about parakeets (parriche) and parrots (jako) that eat fruit and spread the seeds (someone mentioned they also eat corn), thereby planting trees. I ask what the kids do when they see a nest. The usual answer is touch it, destroy it, etc. We talk about how there are fewer birds when they do that. And reiterate that malfini eat rats, wanga help make fruit, and parakeets/parrots help plant trees. I finish with what will they do next time they see a next. Answer – leave it alone! By the way, Kristie said she’s seeing more birds on their property and thinks kids are remembering this lesson.

A variation of this talk includes the life cycle of birds, frogs, and butterflies. I have the kids come up and help me put the visual aids in order from egg to adult. We talk about frogs (krapo) eating insects such as flies and mosquitoes, and butterflies pollinating flowers. I show them my frog necklace and reiterate that mwen renmen krapo (I like frogs). There is a myth that if a frog pees in your eye it will pop! Many people are afraid of frogs in the way that Americans are afraid of spiders or snakes. We finish with the Ti Zwazo song that everyone seems to know. The words are in the book Ti Zwazo Kote W A Prale that I bought at the Audubon office in Port au Prince last year.

I hand out to each kid either a bookmark with life cycles on one side and hydrologic cycle on the back, or a page of the bird guide by Florence Sergile. I give the principle either a binder of the teaching material, or binoculars with a bird guide.

Friday – UCI (United Christians International) Dironot translated. This is the school on UCI property in Caiman that was built and opened last year to school the children and employ the teachers who had to move here after the Jan. 2010 earthquake. I taught in 4 classrooms, two rooms of about 25 each 2-3 yr olds (they start them early), 25 4-5 yr olds, and 25 6-9 year olds.

Saturday – UCI youth group. JeanJean translated. The teens who go to Pastor JeanJean’s church meet in the worship center. We talked about the hydrologic cycle and the importance of trees for clean water both to drink and for fish habitat. I encouraged them to start now planting trees and in 10 years they’ll be glad they did. UCI has a nursery and the teens will start a tree project.

Monday – Fwa Kretyen de la Jeune (Pignon) – (down the highway from the cemetery, towards Pignon, turn at the sign in the photo). Derold translated. Dropped off by truck around 8a, finished around 9:30am. I spoke in 6 classrooms (ages are a guess): 15 preteens; 16 7th graders; 37 ~10 yr olds; 20 3-4 yr olds; 30 teens in the same room as 22 4 – 5 yr olds who faced a different wall; ~40 5 – 6 yr olds.

We then walked to National Public School (green school with large trees that had red flowers and huge been pods). They weren’t expecting us, but graciously assembled all the kids (~150, blue checkered uniforms) outside under the trees. I gave the principle a pair of binoculars for the school, and laminated bird guides for the teachers. I spoke for about ½ hour. JeanJean mentioned they haven’t had any activities yet at this school. Principle said they don’t have people teaching what I teach.

Then walked home (turn at the new HAFF lodging), arrived around 10:30a. Hot & sunny day!

Monday afternoon – For about 1 hour I talked with 6 UCI employees who work in the nursery and tend gardens. Reviewed hydrologic cycle and what I teach kids. They thought bats came from old mice that metamorphed, so showed them the laminated illustrations of mother and baby bats, and babies drinking milk and staying warm. They would like a longer workshop, so I suggested they organize it and invite other communities, and give tours of UCI projects.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three Pairs of Shoes*

If you're going to Haiti bring three pairs of shoes. A sturdy walking pair that dries quickly, like Tevas or Keens, and two pairs of flipflops, one for walking around outside in the compound, and one for inside the dorm. My checked luggage didn't come in our our international flight, I didn't get it until 5 days later. The thing I missed most was my flipflops. I had my Keens on me, but they're not easy to slip on and off when I'm going in and out of the dorm or house. And my feet were getting dirty from the dorm floor (relatively clean but with a team of 23 people it gets dusty). So then I had my routine of wiping my feet on a towel before getting into bed each night. Fortunately, I always pack with the assumption that my check luggage will be delayed or lost, so I had all the basics with me carryon.

*I haven't yet read Three Cups of Tea, but it's on my list.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trip #4 - lots of rain

I'm back in Haiti, this is the latest in the year that I've been here. I'm used to the browness of the dry season in the winter. Now everything is green and there's lots of rain. The MAF pilot wasn't sure that we'd be able to make it from Port au Prince to Pignon, but we did and he made it back to PAP. The larger missionary planes couldn't land because the landing strip was so saturated, they had to land on the north coast and Kristie and JeanJean drove there (4 hrs) to pick them up. Here are some pictures from the 1st couple days. I am here with two women from my church.