August 2013: Ranquitte, Haiti
Within 42 hours of returning to Los Angeles from Shanghai, I took off on a red-eye flight to Miami, which connected me to Port-Au-Prince. And a few hours later, took a small six-seater flight to Pignon, a small town in the Northern part of Haiti. After landing on a grassy field, the so-called airport, I was picked up by the mayor of the town of Ranquitte for a rocky 2-hour truck ride to our final destination, EcoCafe in Ranquiitee, Haiti!
With jetlag from China, over 15 hours in route, and no sleep, I finally arrived at EcoCafe, the source of the award-winning Haitian coffee! I was warmly greeted by Tom Durant, founder of EcoCafe Haiti, and Mike English, a close friend of EcoCafe. Little did I know, I was surrounded by 300 coffee farms all around me, 6 miles each direction North, East, South and West. I felt home again, a sense of familiarity back in Haiti as I laid inside a mosquito net with rooster singing at random times throughout the night. I had a great night sleep.
The next day we hiked to visit coffee farms, eagerly watching the berries, anticipating for the harvest season right around the corner, from September to January. It was great to see farmers greet Tom with the warm Haitian smile. Tom so generously shared his self-taught knowledge on coffee as we walked through the EcoCafe facilities and processing center. It was also a pleasure learning from Pierre Frantz-Rosner, the young agronomist of EcoCafe who was awarded by the Clinton Foundation for the 2012 Entrepreneur of the year for Northern Haiti. To top it off, I was so fortunate to be a part of this year’s EcoCafe Haiti annual pre-harvest meeting with record breaking attendance of over 120 coffee farmers! I hope it won’t be the last!
The most heartwarming part of this coffee discovery was to be able to get to know people like Tom Durant and Mike English, who are passionate about helping Haiti with their entrepreneur spirit, both being university professors teaching business. There are truly endless opportunities to make a difference in this world and the needs are everywhere. We are all given certain talents and abilities to make an impact in our own unique ways.
Truly inspired and motivated to make a lasting difference in the lives of the Haitian people.