It was November 8, 2023. We’d been on deep rutted roads for hours and by the time we got to the village, piles of manioc root had been peeled and were being hauled into a little cement building.
We went in. The diesel motor cranked into action and the toothed drum of the mill set spinning. The manioc roots dropped in and came out wet flour. The miller barked orders and everyone was frantic to help, but since it was new to everyone, it was happy chaos.
Outside, a woman fanned coals under steel griddles; men pressed water out of the wet flour; women sifted it; and the baker spread it on the hot steel. When the cassava was done, it was cut into squares, dolloped with chicken stew and served to the people streaming in.
They may have been farm folk this morning, but they were something else now, creased pants, smart dresses, spiffed up kids. They'd come to celebrate the dedication of the town’s first cassava mill.
It was dark when two men stood up, everyone got quiet. With feeling they talked about the travails everyone here knows. Then one of them turned to the JP staff and patting his pockets said, “You knew they were empty, and you came and built this mill for us. Now we can make bread to eat from the manioc we grow. We will thank you everyday. Everyone nodded yes and clapped their hands.
It was time to go, the generator switched off and everything went dark. I looked up. Orion stood astride a Milky Way so vivid it seemed within reach. Beside me I heard a small voice, “Do you see the same stars where you come from?” “Yes," I answered, "I see the same stars.”
Partner for People and Place
Thanks to all our contributors who made this happen, especially Meg and Bill. We want to build two more of these this year, because they are so effective in increasing the food supply of remote communities.
Take care, and thanks for your interest in Haiti.