September 13, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Matt and Coleen in the Peace Corps in Haiti!

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Peace Corps Haiti : The Peace Corps in Haiti: September 13, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Matt and Coleen in the Peace Corps in Haiti!

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 2:13 pm: Edit Post

Matt and Coleen in the Peace Corps in Haiti!

Matt and Coleen in the Peace Corps in Haiti!

Dear Friends,

Coleen and I have accpeted an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps in Haiti. We are so excited. We leave on August 17th. This web site is a way we can keep you all informed. If you subscribe you will get an email telling you each time we update it with a new entry.

Coleen will be working as a rural health educator. She'll be teaching about nutrition, AIDS, and other important stuff.

I have been nominated as an Agriculture and Environment Educator. I will most likely be working with farmers, families, and or schools to improve farming practice, slow erosion, and stuff like that.

We'll keep you all posted as new developments arise. Thanks for reading.

Matt and Coleen

Dear friends and family,

Coleen and I are in Haiti! We got to the airport and were taken to the VIP room! We felt very special. It was awefully hot at the airport. Once we got all of our luggage we took a 2 hour bus ride on chartered buses. Peace Corps had nice mini buses for us to ride and cold bottled water. It was great. The ride on the bus was very telling. The poverty in Port is hard to describe. It is people, garbage, sick animals, traffic (no rules on these roads), dirt roads with 12 inch pot holes everywhere, etc. It was a powerful introduction to Haiti. We will not be serving in Port but we will go a few times for meetings and when we are in transit.

We spent our first three days at a place called Xaragua. It was a hotel on the beach north of Port au prince. It was a luxury hotel for Haiti. We had running water and there were water coolers on each floor. They cooked us buffet meals (that were excellent) and we had meetings and SHOTS (EEEK) all day each day. We learned some survival Creole, learned to play Casino (a card game that we are now getting sick of), and met a lot of nice people. Our co-hort group of trainies is great. We met all of the Peace Corps staff and two current volunteers. They were all very upbeat.

On Friday we left the hotel at 2 PM to go to Mewot a "suburb" ;) of Arkaye. We live on a dirt road, off a bigger dirt road, off a partially paved road. Traffic on the dirt roads is not bad, but it is wild in town on the paved roads. Our family is alright. We had some adjustment pains however. We have worked most of them out and it is getting better. We shower with cold water and a bucket at least 2x per day (it is my favorite part of the day). It is very hot and dusty here. We live in a very nice house. Our mother (Maricile - 26 years old), has two brothers in the US and only she and her mother live in the house with two children. The two children are what they call "restavics". A restavic is a child of a poor family that lives with a wealthy family. Our family provides them with food (minimal), clothing (scant), and schooling. In exchange the children work all day. They do a large part of the housework, clean the latrin, wash dishes, clean the house, etc. They are sweet and it has been very difficult for us to accept the fact that we live with child indentured servents. It is something I will not be able to come to terms with I think. Over all our living conditions are good. We have a king sized bed, three square meals a day, tile floors, and even electricity most evenings (only lights)! In exchange we live with slave children and listen to them being yelled at often.

The two children are Betty, 12 and Camelit, 5. We play cards with them and all the neighboorhood children alot. Camelit has this sparkle in her eyes that makes being here worth while.

Our Peace Corps (PC) classes are pretty good. My language professor, Phillipe, is awesome. He is very patient and works well with my group. Coleen's professor, Jean Heber, is good but not as patient as Phillipe. I got lucky! We have to switch to a new professor in a week. We have langauge class each morning. Coleen's class is on our front porch and mine is under the bannana trees at another volunteer's house. In the afternoons we usually have culture, health and safety, or technical class. Those are usually done in the large group or in the split Health/Ag groups. Peace Corps is very organized and very supportive. Our nurse, Kathy, is great. She is a real advocate and very accessible. We really like her.

We want to send a big thank you to Jenn and Sean, Joanie, Kathy, and Grandma Miller for sending us our first letters. We got them on Friday and it was a huge boost. We haven't checked our emails yet but we thank all of you who sent email too!

If you want to send us mail, regualar mail with just letters is fairly reliable. Boxes should be avoided. Padded envelopes stand a better chance of arriving. Peace Corps advises that you lie on the customs form if you are sending valuables. Instead of writing CDs, write used books (or something like that. We would love powdered gatorade if you find it! :)

One of our big storms is about to hit. The are fierce. Inches of rain per hour. So we need to end this. We'll write again soon. We miss and love you all.

Matt and Coleen

Hi everyone!
This entry is from a letter written home by Matt and Coleen.

"We have been surrounded by children We played in the lawn for awhile ( They dance in a circle and we were pulled in the middle to dance.) We have been playing cards. I (Matt) learned Casino and we taught them "Go Fish" (Alle Poison). The children are beautiful. We are enjoying their company.The hard part about being here so far is watching Betty, a young girl who works in the house. She is 12 years old and does a lot of the housework. It is a common thing in Haiti for a family of means to take in a child from a poor rural family, send them to school and work them hard.

We are very happy here. Tomorrow we have class here in our village. There is an internet cafe a few miles away and also a phone. Hopefully when we learn to take the "tap-tap" we will be able to go there and get online.

We miss you all. Please write! Do not bother with big packages. Please send things in padded envelopes. If it is important, send it Fed-Ex. There is some chance of getting a snail mail envelope and a good chance of receiving Fed-Ex. Keep in touch." Powdered Gatorade, envelopes and small items for the children to play with, such as coloring books, magazines,stickers, crayons etc would be appreciated.

Love, Matt and Coleen

Our address is:

Matt and Coleen Riccione, PCT
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 920
Port-au Prince, Haiti

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Haiti; PCVs in the Field - Haiti



By David Thomas ( - on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 10:01 am: Edit Post

Chèrs Matt & Coleen--

Merci pour écrire vos messages ici. Je suis américain, j'apprends le français, et quelque jour je voudrais voyager en haiti. J'admire votre travail. Soyez patients. Bonne chance!


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