This past Tuesday just one week away from Mardi Gras 20 orphan girls from City of God made a Fresh Air field trip to Wynne Farm. They learned about the benefits of bamboo, ate fresh macadamia nuts and loquats for the first time while enjoying and dancing to the music of a live Racine band. The collaboration of Norwich Mission House and Wynne Farm again culminated into an unusual reprieve for the girls who normally spend most of their time indoors at the dusty orphanage in downtown Port-au-Prince.
On this day the girls were exposed to an entirely new world right in their on backyard of Haiti. Jane Wynne started the day off by giving the girls a simple geography lesson to understand where Haiti is in relationship to the world and then moved on to Haiti’s fauna, living and extinct. The children and adults alike were amazed to find out that flamingos and manatees once occupied Haiti’s land and waters. Jane’s props are simple, maps and pictures, but enough to capture and hold the girls’ attention, her vibrant personality helps a lot too. From there the girls learned how to make paper from recycled materials as well as briquettes for an alternative to the charcoal most of them see being used to cook with on the streets. They then moved from the center to the yard where Jane had arranged for a session on bamboo. As the girls sat on banana mats surrounded by Wynne Farm’s beautiful garden they awed at the multiple crafts produced with bamboo and actively engaged with questions about the bamboo varieties at the farm and of course if they can make some of the crafts themselves.
Lunch was served in the yard with the sounds of Adja’s Racine band playing under the bamboo gazebo. The girls quickly took over center stage with dances and songs of their own as Adja’s band played back up. Afterwards the girls were treated to a horse ride and an arts and crafts session where they made cards from recycled paper and dried flowers, bamboo torches, and carnival masks from bamboo skins for Mardi Gras next week. They also got a tour of the gardens where Jane pointed out numerous plants, vegetables and flowers before the girls started collecting macadamias to return home with.
Jane closed the day with one final environmental lesson that brought it all together, giving back to the earth we use. As she used one of her most effective props, a 14 year old eco-“Jug” that has all the elements of our own environment living in peaceful harmony she segued into composting. All 20 girls marched down to the backyard to where Jane and her team demonstrated step by step the benefits of composting. And the girls showed their fearlessness and interest in the process by for the first time seeing and holding an earthworm. Surprisingly not too many shrieks sounded but instead a real glow was found on many faces even as they fell asleep on the way back down the mountain.