An American Heart in Haiti

Maria Blon has just returned home from an epiphanic trip to Haiti. It is the most recent in a series of half-a-dozen overseas adventures she has taken since her daughter, Carina, landed 3 years ago at a site in Croix Ves Eoquets. Now the young girl, Maria's eldest daughter, is in the process of building a school out of the ashes of the devastating earthquake that rocked the small island in the Caribbean. She is 20 years old.

Her mother couldn't be prouder. 

The school is located right near the area called locally "the bateyes of Merger". A few of the fathers of recently registered students have a lot of experience in farming, but the fields around the village have no irrigation system.  A garden - an emphatic component of Carina's sustainability plan for her community - is growing at the school, and there are hopes for expansion that will allow for inclusion of community members and eventually a real harvest.

Haitian students are learning agricultural advancements, competing in sporting events and expanding their understanding of the English language thanks to Carina. Their world is visibly more colorful thanks to the efforts she is committing to her small rural site located 19 kilometers outside of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.

In order to secure the plot of land that's being developed Carina and her adult guide Shad St. Louis involved Atlanta Rotary who were able to donate shipping containers which can now be found at the school. But, it was HOT! So, ceiling fans had to be installed to cool everything off. Studio Ayo in Middletown, NY - yes our Middletown! held a zumbathon to raise some money for the cause. These coordinated efforts are changing lives.

Maria gave us an update when she returned earlier this week saying, "The school is amazing now, beautiful garden, classrooms and cafeteria look great. I am amazed at how much they have accomplished in a year!"

To date there are 52 children at the school Carina helped to build. There are hopes to make room for many more. But, academics are just one piece of the picture being painted in the Haitian brush - Carina also started a women's sewing circle and a construction school which meets in the evenings that will potentially provide the development workforce that is needed for the upcoming expansion.

One of Maria's favorite things about visiting Haiti is getting eye level with the relative perspective that comes from the footpaths in a third world country.

We had a wonderful trip to Haiti! One of the highlights was meeting Dayanka and her Grandmother who she lives with. There was such joy and gratitude when we gave Dayanka's Grandmother a tarp for their leaky roof and chocolates.

Haiti still has far to go. There is a tent village near by to Croix Des Bouquets showcasing the reality of displacement. Approximately 400,000 people are still living in tents in Haiti 3 years after the earthquake. Many of them right in the capital, knee deep in the debris of the crumbled epicenter.

"Imagine people living in tents like this in the United States. Would this be an urgent situation? Absolutely!" 

Urgency, then is relative.


Maria is a spiritual woman who was also an educator at SUNY Orange for much of her life. She also co-founded Sparks Alive life coaching classes out of Middletown. She is enjoying watching Carina bring the spirit of education to Haiti and honored that her younger daughter Anna is college bound with an intention to study education formally. It's Mom's cool calm and collected style that helps her balance the worry of a child overseas with another college-bound next year

The whole family has gained something from Carina's adventure. "Anna used to complain that we didn't have air conditioning. In Haiti she learned that you just have to stay calm when it's hot."

Carina, from all of your friends at, we wish you continued success in your adamant plans to make a difference and be the change.  

You can bid on some Haitian art on display at Aroma Thyme Bistro through the month of April and get something special and uniquely hand made in return.