What an incredible time we had with our special Haitian visitor to Canada, Director of Rayjon Share Care Haiti, Renaud Thomas!
We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who made Renaud feel welcome, who shared time with him and who accompanied him on his journey in Canada. It was great to see the Rayjon community in action, extending such a welcome and engaging with him in so many different ways, during his time in Canada.
As you may know, Renaud had never been to North America before, to experience big contrasts between life in Haiti and Canada. He approached every experience as a learning and teaching opportunity. He was kind, patient and dedicated–always willing to meet and connect with others and to share his perspective and insight.
Listen / Écoutez
Renaud was with us for 3 incredible Rayjon-hosted events: CaribeFest at Lambton College, Trail and Ale and a Rayjon barbecue hosted by Marlo, with support from Roza (chef/owner of Bae Salamati), her sous chef Jacob, Marlo’s mum and others. Renaud made sure that the Haitian rum he’d brought as a treat was shared freely! Roza also made him some incredible meals to have on hand on his nights at “home.”
He spoke at the University of Guelph Arboretum and gave presentations to Sisters of St Joseph (both London and Toronto congregations), Sarnia Kiwanis Club, and at a retirement community in Guelph. He was a guest speaker on the theme of solidarity in international cooperation and partnership at the Ontario Council for International Cooperation annual symposium in Toronto.
Renaud was a key voice at in-person meetings with our partners at Trees That Feed Foundation and the PWRDF, discussing exciting next steps in projects that will empower rural communities in Haiti.
A nature enthusiast and expert agronomist, Renaud was a welcomed and received behind the scenes tours at Walpole Island First Nation (to learn more about their incredible cooperative agricultural development program, Tahgahoning Enterprises Inc.) local farms (to learn more about beef farming in Canada), and Degroot’s Nurseries. Our friend Robert also took Renaud on a tour of Aspen Grove, a spectacular private garden in the Guelph region.
Many Rayjon folks invited him into their homes for dinner and shared experiences with him, such as a walk in Canatara park, a waterfront sunset walk, an afternoon of sailing on Lake Huron, a trip to Niagara Falls, an outing to the Toronto Zoo, learning to dance merengue, and time at Piera’s home in Toronto. He had two wonderful final days in Montreal with Glen and Monique before he flew home. (Special thanks to Debbie Austin, who hosted Renaud at her cottage for the majority of his Canadian visit).
Renaud had a lot to say while he was here about the current situation in Haiti, what communities in the St. Marc region are doing about it, and what the way forward looks like. (Stay tuned for our next e-bulletin which will share some of these thoughts in more detail.) What we know for sure: Good things are happening in Haiti, despite the many challenges. We will do our best to keep you posted about the local community development work being done under Renaud’s leadership in St. Marc, as well as in the other Rayjon-supported programs, in the coming weeks and months.
THANK YOU EVERYONE for helping to make Renaud’s visit such a positive one for him and for Rayjon, in so many different ways!!!!!!!!
During his stay Renaud was interviewed by Cathy Dobson (Sarnia Journal), who wrote an excellent article about the inspiring and successful approach to community development being implemented under Renaud’s leadership in the rural St. Marc region of Haiti.