Day 3: A Growing Tourism Industry

Written by Gabe Kennedy

Over one billion people across the world struggle to live on less than $1 a day. In an effort to reduce that statistic, Concern Worldwide is partnering with the Live Below the Line project to challenge everyone to live on $1.50 a day from April 27 to May 1. Find out more here.

To promote this endeavor, we have teamed up with season three’s winner of “The Taste” and executive chef at Bon Appetit Gabe Kennedy. He traveled with Concern to Haiti to connect with people who live below the poverty line — here is his story! 

This is the third in a series of three diary entries. View Day 1 and Day 2 of his journey.

The drive back to Saut d’Eau from our hotel is filled with church music, as we pass people dressed in their Sunday best. We venture to the new community ‘swimming area,’ part of Concern’s tourism program. It is beautiful to see the community coming together to build something for domestic tourists and locals. Water is diverted from the spring to fill the pool. The area will host vendors, family, and guests alike.

Gabe at the newly-built community center

Gabe at the newly-built community center; Photo by Kieran McConville

On our way to the sacred waterfall, we stop by the cultural and tourism center that is near completion and will open later this month. Painted yellow and red, it sits with a vista of the barren hills. It is close to the waterfall and will be used as a community space in which people can do really whatever they want. A kind of project that will only bring good. (Learn more about the project here)

The waterfall is magic. I am led by a local tour guide as we climb the rocks towards the base. I ask if I can climb the falls and our guide obliges. He nimbly steps from rock to rock, avoiding the slippery ones. I follow suit. As the water breaks through the air, there is something magical that occurs. I feel fresh and rejuvenated. Perhaps it is for this ineffable reason that over 100,000 people come to the village in the month of July to this place of worship. Catholics and those who practice voodoo come, break bread, and enjoy this feat of nature. As I walk to the car, wet from the waterfall, I am filled with a sense of joy and excitement. It is a true testament to how powerful nature is and how beautiful our interaction with it can be.

Gabe at the waterfalls

Gabe at the waterfalls; Photo by Kieran McConville

It is time to visit another project that Concern is undertaking. We visit a B&B that was built for a woman in the community. The undertaking is sizable but a lack of resources and infrastructure makes the process of building it long and arduous. The B&B is clean, organized, and rigged for power and running water. She tells me that she has only had one guest in the last year. Although that is slightly disheartening, she remains optimistic.

Gabe with Gertrude Saint-Victor, owner of the B&B

Gabe with Gertrude Saint-Victor, owner of the B&B; Photo by Kieran McConville

As I leave the cottage, I am hit with a sense of frustration. Why are there not more people? Why does she not care? I find myself retreating to a space of discomfort. Upon reflection, I realize that I am simply sad. It hurts me to see people struggle, and for all the people I have met in Haiti, life is a struggle. Minimal education and resources make growth near impossible.

The town of Saut d’Eau is beautiful and optimistic. However, life in Haiti is not easy for most. Political instability with the upcoming elections leaves everyone on edge as gunshots occasionally ring through village. The need for tourism and support, both domestically and abroad, leaves many people and communities dependent on the work of NGOs and other charity organizations.

In my short time there, it seems as though Haiti has been neglected and left out to dry. Although the situation is improving, it is a sheer reminder that there are many places on this planet that need the support of more fortunate people and nations. For those of us living in the States, regardless of where you live or how much money you make, we have been dealt a great hand.

As I reflect on my travels, I am inspired to grow, learn, explore, and help the world and those who need it. Food is not only a universal language, but can be a catalyst for change. I hope to share my gift with the world and continue to explore and discover how this can be a medium to leave the world in a better place then it ever was.

See more about Concern’s work to develop the tourism industry in Saut d’Eau:

Gabe in Saut d’Eau

A nascent tourism industry in rural Haiti.