Tupi was invited for breakfast before visiting the school. Breakfast was 2 pieces of toast and a soft boiled egg. It was simple and good. Then Tupi followed Alex to the Children's Academy.
There were young kids outside the classrooms sweeping the leaves from the tree and placing it a big bin. "Wow, the children help in area cleaning?" Tupi asked.
"Everyday, they tend to the plants, clean up the area and compost the dead leaves." Alex said. "They learn about permaculture gardening and the environment."
"What is permaculture gardening? And how is it different from organic farming?" Tupi asked.
"Permaculture uses organic farming practices and integrates the farm and home to create a lifestyle that impacts less on the environment." Alex said. "In a permaculture system, we try to have a closed system where we try to import less and everything hopefully gets fully utilized. We try to grow what we eat, eat what we grow and bring in less produce."
"Organic Farming promotes the use of natural fertilisers, making use of the natural carbon cycle so that waste from plants becomes the food of another. But still we cart the produce to the market and buy products that we need." Alex said. "The Ideal Permaculture ‘Farm’ brings production of food closer to consumers and the consumer’s wastes back into the cycle. It also reduces the energy wasted in transporting and the people contribute in their daily life toward the production of their food and other needs."
"Wow, that is a lot to learn. I don't even think I've learnt this in school, and what's worse, I can practice this at home." Tupi said. "This is so much information... But are you worried about the pathogens?"
"We have a anaerobic digestion system at the school, but each of the homes in the village also have a dry composting toilet, which greatly reduce the pathogens." Alex said. "Its all managed."
Tupi asked the kids about the plants they were growing and they all seem quite knowledgeable about the life cycle and reproduction for the plants. Looking into the classrooms, Tupi also spotted adultsin another classroom.
"Those students look old." Tupi joked.
"The parents participate in adult education classes." Alex said. "Sometimes, they are in community savings and loan groups and talk about finances."
"How the hell did you get the parents to attend?" Tupi asked.
"Its not easy, but simply put, we need to build trust." Alex said proudly.
This was the first time Tupi visited an area without a regular toilet and the people here seemed much more resourceful than others in the cities Tupi visited. Tupi felt that when humans lack resources, they have to become more creative and innovative in ways to conserve every little bit they have. It made Tupi think a lot and reflect on his city life and how wasteful he had been.
Tupi visited the various classrooms and saw the kids learn art, music and some entrepreneurial skills by thinking of various ways to redesign their crafts and which markets to sell it in. The kids have a little understanding of English and some of the kids engage in conversation with Tupi and taught him simply Creole language.
Tupi learnt farming along with the kids and the lessons seemed informational and interesting. He never thought that school could be that fun.
"This is very educational. I am really touched by what you are doing and you have opened up my mind on what is possible." Tupi said. "From what I've read, Haiti seemed like a very challenging environment, and you guys seemed to have found something and are working on real change despite the challenges. I can't even put in words what I've really experienced, but I'm really impressed and thanks for inviting me."
It was a great journey of self discovery and learning experience, and Tupi was glad he spent time coming to visit Haiti. Soon, it was time for him to return to Florida to help his friends in disaster relief, and Tupi was dreading the bus ride, however, he decided that since it was probably one of the last time he would be riding this bus, he can treasure the experience and hopefully not take good public transportation for granted.