Chronicle of my last visit to Grand Boukan
We had it all set: we knew the community was eager to continue the work after the Deep Dive, and we were struggling with our schedules to find time to go back to Grand Boukan. We took the first opportunity we had and called the community to meet us once again.
I couldn’t leave early on Friday, so I spent the night in a small town called Jimaní on the Haitian border, so that I could cross the next day as soon as the border opened. If everything went according to plan, I would be taking a tap tap at 8:30am to Croix-de-Bouquets and arrive in Grand Boukan at 10:30. But in Haiti things rarely go as planned.
To get to the community took me two hours more than expected. I was stressed out. Who would wait two hours on a Saturday in the middle of summer for a long meeting with a white guy who spoke something similar to Creole? Luckily Bony was able to arrive earlier than me, but he didn’t have the materials needed for the meeting.
So I prepared myself for failure: I was sure Bony would have something to work with, but he had already told me that some people had started to leave. He assured me though that there were still a few people left. “Sure,” I thought to myself, “the four or five who believed in the work as much as we do.”
I wish I could have seen my face when I arrived and saw over 60 people sitting in the school, patiently waiting, eager to define the next steps for the community.
This for me was the first sign of what had changed in Grand Boukan after the Deep Dive: people began to trust in our work, and more importantly, they were eager to take ownership of these things that were happening in the community. They wanted to know more, they wanted to be part of it, and they wanted to raise their voice; so waiting a couple of hours for many of them was a small sacrifice compared to what they hope they could achieve.
We started by building a timeline with pictures from the Deep Dive, and asked different people to define what each pictured represented for them. They got into the activity right away: those who participated shared their stories; those who didn’t were mindfully listening and trying to picture the five days in their head. At the end of the activity, words like “Unity”, “Teamwork”, “Laughter” and “Hard Work” were all over the flipchart, the names of many of the Fellows were there as well, along with the ones of Lars, Markus, Bix and little Mia.
We reflected on what happened over the week, and how each of us (Noumenm, Melton Foundation and the community) had a piece of the Deep Dive, and that it was something shared, which didn’t belong to one or two people, to one or two organizations, but that it was part of everyone, of all of us.
This was the second thing that the Deep Dive brought to the community: a sense of a shared history, a small something that was shared with The Melton Foundation and Noumenm, something that united us all, and centered us in one objective: the development of Grand Boukan.
After this reflection, we started to think about what we needed to continue. What were our next steps and how we could move forward with the different projects of the Deep Dive and with the dream we have for Grand Boukan. I still remember most of the words that were said: “Tèt Ansanm” (to put our heads together, meaning working together and collaborating); “volontè” (goodwill); “lidè” (leadership); “kominikasyon” (communication). Two of them struck me the most: “yon enstitisyon estab” (a permanent institution) and “representasyon” ([community] representation). The people of Grand Boukan were aware that they couldn’t depend on someone else to improve their livelihood; they knew that the leadership had to come from within.
This is the third and biggest outcome of the Deep Dive: something during those five days in the field and three months of preparation made them realize the importance of empowerment and self-leadership.
We ended the meeting with the commitment to create democratically and representatively a community board, a motor group as we called it: a group of people who will defend the best interest of their community and support the implementation of the Deep Dive groups.
I left Grand Boukan the following day: it was the last time I was going to visit that place in a long time: I was leaving the Island in the following week, but I knew that all that hard work that Bony, Claudia and I did thorough the year was not in vain, and that it was paired with a much harder work done by the community itself.