I contacted Paula to see if we could compare notes about our experiences, we had a good visit and discovered a similar passion for library work in developing countries.
Last spring Paula invited me to go with her to Haiti to set up another school library at Tarasse school. It didn't take me long to decide I wanted to go. As it turns out Paula can't make the trip this time but I am leaving September 20th and will return October 4th.
I am joining a library team from Raleigh, N.C.
I don't know a lot about Haiti as I've spent more time learning about and visiting Zambia. I did read Paul Farmer's biography Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning more about Haiti, global health, tuberculosis and anti-retro viral medication distribution in the developing world. Paul Farmer founder of Partners in Health was instrumental in making ARV's freely available in developing countries that have been ravaged by HIV/AIDS.
A few facts I have learned about Haiti:
- Haiti is 27, 750 sq. km. - smaller than the Netherlands, about the same size as Rwanda
- For a Canadian contrast, Haiti is smaller than Vancouver Island
- Haiti's population is 9,996,731 compared to Vancouver Island which has a population of 749,000)
- Haiti established independence when African slaves revolted against the French in 1804
- The earthquake in 2010 killed 300,00 people and displaced 1.5 million
- Haiti is the poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere and is inundated with foreign aid
|The 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti and left 1.5 million people displaced|
In Haiti, reading for pleasure is not a cultural normThe first school library, Siloe Mission School in Poteau was set up in 2011, now a second library is going to be set up in Tourasse . This library can potentially provide books for 500 children.
I am collecting books in French, children's books, fiction and non-fiction. We will be setting up the library, cataloging the books, training teachers about library practices and reading to the children-in French.