If you have read any of the blogs of visiting teams at HATS, two things get mentioned often. The children and the canal walks. The walks are an integral part for the people who live at HATS and those that visit. It is a chance to discover the rich farmland, say hello to the hardworking farmers, to interact with local families and just to have some peace and quiet from the busyness of the compound.
This is the fourth winter Joan and I have spent at HATS and we are still discovering some new routes. Most are within a 5 Km radius of the compound and there are still plenty of trails to discover. We walk most mornings together, Saturdays with Karen and the older kids and a couple of times week a shorter stroll including all the children with a mandatory candy break at the mango trees.
The canal flowing in front of the HATS compound is part of an extensive irrigation system diverting water from the Artibonite River which is just 1 km from the orphanage. The Artibonite River is the longest on the island of Hispaniola and is 320 kms. long. The canals system provides water for tens of thousands of acres of farmland in the valley. The engineering of the canal is ingenious because the water is above the level of the farms so to irrigate it is just a matter of opening up a valve or punch a hole in the wall to divert the water flow to the farms. In this immediate area rice crops are plentiful as well as peas, beans, corn and potatoes. Most farmers are able to grow 2-3 crops per year.
The pictures do not do real justice to the beauty, the pristine farms, the greenery the sights, sounds or smells but enjoy anyway.
It is all about the kids….