A trip to the bakery

The vehicle lurched forward over the rocks beneath the wheels, causing us to veer precariously downhill at an angle of 45 degrees for a brief moment before the four-wheel-drive re-balanced and we drove on. We were on a weather-beaten track, recently ravaged by a tempestuous storm the night before. It resembled more of a river-bed, with the traces of the rain flooding down the mountain etched into the road’s surface.

Either side of the windy track the green hillside fell away into steep valleys dotted with small houses, most reconstructed since the earthquake.

We were up in the rural areas of Léogâne, Haiti, where an estimated 90% of people lost their homes in the earthquake. Close to the epicentre, the rural areas were devastated and left incredibly vulnerable. Shelters have been rebuilt, along with schools, and tree nurseries established to reduce the risk of landslides in the heavily deforested landscape.

We arrived at the bakery, set up following the earthquake with a business grant that enabled the family to bake bread that is sold in the surrounding villages and for miles around. We almost missed the small tin shack at the side of the road which housed the all important oven and workspace needed for preparing and baking the bread. Outside, a hand-operated grinder ground the wheat for the flour, and the four men working inside faithfully rolled out the dough, cut the small roll shapes and watched their produce gently rise in the oven.

It is the most remote bakery I have ever visited, boasting spectacular views across the valleys and hills around, and yet delivering on foot the produce to their clients up and down the steep slopes. We set off on the precarious journey home again, encouraged by a real success story upon the slopes.

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