I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mon Bouton Video

Our second trip to Haiti has been rather unlike our first trip in several ways. One of these differences is the itinerary of the trip, which consisted of a four-day stay in Mon Bouton, an isolated village in the rural mountains of Haiti. During our first visit (which Toma told us was the first time in 5-6 years they had visitors!), we spent all of our time in the city of Port-au-Prince, which has proven to be tremendously different from the countryside, where most of the population lives. The city is constantly bustling with people in search of opportunity, while the mountains remain calm and unchanged - although the struggle for survival and the search for hope are as critical.

The journey up the mountain to Mon Bouton began (after a 2-3 hours car ride) with a fifteen minute “moto” (moped) ride from Darbone to the river at the bottom of the mountain. After crossing the river with the help of some locals, we embarked on the five-hour+ hike up to Mon Bouton. When it rained, we stopped along the way to sing songs and indulge in a few American snacks such as power bars and fruit leathers. Following the hike, we made an attempt at discretely filtering our water, which failed as our hosts were intrigued by our seemingly strange pumping activities. After a relatively short sleep on our not-so-comfortable mattresses (we never encountered a "pillow" so heavy), we traveled a bit down the mountain to work on the latrine by carrying and cutting bamboo, cutting wire, and transferring sand and rocks to make cement. While our fundraising and trip focus was always around helping with education related initiatives for kids in Haiti, the only way to bond and get to understand the locals in the mountains was by "service learning" and working together - and that is exactly what occurred. Despite our fairly athletic backgrounds, we found ourselves to be exhausted as we were unable to keep up with the strength and motor of the Haitian people.

Later that day, we returned to Mon Bouton and enjoyed our own version of the Bob Marley CD (using the boombox we gave them) that we brought with all of the people, as everybody sang, danced, and played their makeshift instruments. Following our dinner that day, we hiked to the "wash-wash", the mini-waterfall that is the water supply for the mountain, and experienced the strenuous hike that is required every time that the people of Mon Bouton need water. We witnessed the resourcefulness of the mountain people as they created a shower for themselves out of a piece of bamboo and a stick. The next day, we trekked out to the larger waterfall in order to see the place where there could potentially be a water pumping system. We swam in the pool by the waterfall, cooling off from the hot and humid weather. The Haitians, for the most part, could not swim, so they simply stood ankle-deep in the water with us. Later, we ventured down to the soccer "field" which was literally located on the edge of the mountaintop in order to represent the USA in a soccer match against team Haiti. Unfortunately, we were unable to adapt to the high-stakes conditions of the game, as we often found ourselves to be scared of falling off the edge of the mountain, and lost 3 - 1 in a respectful effort. Next time, maybe we should try to play shoeless as well.

in between all these activities, we spent time with the 7 families in Mon Bouton playing some "educational" games, showing them some computer programs, helping them with email setup (for the slight chance they will use it... they all asked for it), talking about soccer and music, etc.

On our final day, we woke up early in the morning so that our journey back would not take up the whole day. We said our goodbyes to all of the children and our respective hosts, and began the hike down towards the river. After two or three hours of descent, we crossed the river and got onto the motos for the last time. We crossed the river and reached Darbone, where we parted with our newly formed friends and began our journey towards the city. I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed our time in Mon Bouton (and in a few days we will post a photo gallery showing the living conditions, the beautiful surroundings, and the different world we experienced.)

One Love.

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