The sole of the matter

I’m welcomed in to Djiby’s atelier a place on the work bench, cushion included, has been made for me. Today I’ll be taking notes and photographing the process. My mission: to learn how shoes are made, from start to finish.

We’re with Djiby’s assistant, Pape, and the two men will be working in parallel for the next two hours to create a pair of ballerina flats, size 45 for an African client. She has provided the woodin material (a tough, pure cotton material that comes in many colourful designs) and instructions that the flats come with a brown bow ties too. The shoe-makers get right to work.

The power is out in the neighbourhood this morning so we work in silence which is unusual for Djiby and Pape. I’ve been here already many times and I know that they usually have the television going with many programs on, from soap operas to nature programmes. The Senegalese in general like music and movement. I however am very grateful for the quiet as it’s helping me to concentrate and take notes. We also have a helpful draft coming in through the open doors in the front and back so the fumes from the glue are hardly felt.

Cutting brown woodin material for the edging

I’m asked to cut the material for the edging.聽 That’s pretty much the end of my hands on experience today as I need to first understand the process step by step and see how it’s all done !

cutting the woodin material which will show up on the outside

The cardboard piece used to cut the shape is called a “gabarit”, a pattern (used for sowing). Shoemakers have many of these, for different types and sizes of shoes. This one is size 45, as needed for this pair of flats.

This is the interior piece of leather which acts as backing for the exterior woodin material

The inner lining, la “doublure” is cut to the same size. It will act as support and lining for the exterior woodin material.

super power glue

making sure the inside piece of leather matches up with the woodin material

This is Djiby’s ancient looking and yet very efficient sowing machine. Run by a foot pedal and in the midst of our cutting and gluing I feel quite unaffected by this morning’s power cut.

Friends and men from the neighbourhood come in, some to say hello only, and some come to sit and chat for a while. The atelier resounds in a choir of “aleekum salaam”s as we respond to their greetings.

The material and lining are gently glued together and then properly sown together.

exterior with inner lining of leather and border are ready

Djiby’s atelier is a collection of dozens of materials and tools used in shoemaking as well as this one painting.

This material, like a harder foam, is used for the base of the shoe. It will be cut to the right size and covered with the same leather as used in the inner lining.

Adding some glue to finish the brown border, which will be bent over on the inside

Base pieces for the flats are ready.

These are the shoe forms (size 45). The base pieces are attached to the bottom using two nails.

The borders are ready !

and resown over the glue

We can now start placing the sides and tops of the flats over the form and attaching it to the base.

This is another form which has been used many times. The tiny holes from the small nails are visible everywhere.

While work continues on the pair of flats Djiby fixes a leather bag for another client. He’s adding a neat little clasp that comes with a tiny key.

Superfluous bits of material are removed.





It takes precision and practice to properly pull the leather and material over the bottom of the shoe. The folds that result are then cut away.






We also prepare the rubber soles. Of course first we take out the two nails attaching the base to the form for the shoe 馃槈


Due to our power outage we can’t use an electric machine to nicely round the edges of the rubber sole. So, as it was before we had electricity, this too is done by hand.

The heel in this case is flat. An additional piece of rubber attached to the end of the sole.

The family next door.

Rounding the rubber edges of the soles to make them smooth takes significant time.

Now, the fun part at the end. We are making the bow-ties.

The finishing touches are happening. That surprising moment when all the pieces come together and we have a ready shoe. More men from the neighbourhood come in to talk. The Attaya (traditional Senegalese tea made from green tea, mint and sugar) is not yet served, but will be soon. One young man is speaking loudly in Wolof; he is clearly upset about something.


The sole is glued and the shoe is finished.

The final effect. And I am honoured by being the one to place this beautiful new pair of flats into their plastic bag. They are ready to be picked up and enjoyed.

Tomorrow I will be trying my own hand at the art of shoe-making!

24 photos for the 24th of March, 2015

I decided to document my day in photos, with a bit of commentary. Just an ordinary-miracle kind of day, here in Fort-Libert茅, Ha茂ti. Beautiful sun, shared laughs and plenty of sweetness 馃槈



Wake up to blue skies and my room, as seen through the mosquito netting.


My first thought is to see my plants. Here is my mini balcony garden, and view from balcony (into the neighbouring high school).


I recently planted a baby avocado tree (about 5 months old) which inspired me to start more avocado trees. This is how you start ’em… prop the seed up in water until it sprouts roots and leaves and then transplant to soil (in pot or otherwise).


and I get excited when the beans start to flower.


This is my bathroom. No more to say here. Y’all know what these are for 馃檪


This is my morning yoga session on the roof.


This is the panoramic view from my roof. Ahh. Mmm. Yay. The Bay in particular is yay.

Hello. Meet Nadege, my housekeeper and cook.

Hello. Meet Nadege, my housekeeper and cook.

10-car and street


My car (shared with colleague) parked; our street.


Rodlin, nephew of the manager of the house I’m renting. Helps us out plenty. Like when we need to pump water from the underground bassin to the storage tank on the roof. This morning he took care of that for us too.



The little store across the street. Nadege smiling from ear to ear as she heads back from the market with fresh food… potatoes, spinach, mangos, papaya…

I’m at the office now. Here’s Olivier behind the receptionist’s desk printing out some docs…



and here is Pono enjoying a morning coffee. He’s our go-to guy for just about everything… power, mechanical stuff, rental, errands, cheque deposits.. you name it, this guy can do it.



Myriel, the cleaning lady at the Chamber.



A rare treat, vice-president of the BOD stops by for a morning visit. He’s headed to an important conference in Limonade.

18-lunchA rare day where I get to enjoy my lunch at home. Nadege has prepared delicious spinach and beef casserole with fresh potatoes. So good !!

19-ruelapaixThis is ‘Rue la Paix’ (Peace street) that I walk up and down a dozen times a day to get from home to work and back again.


On a conference call, in the (relative) quiet of home.


Needed to get to the library to extend a book loan. I met Jean who gave me a lift. Turns out he speaks Spanish even though he’s never been to a Spanish speaking country. “I have a ton of books at home and I learned all of the vocabulary like that”. I am freakin’ impressed by Jean’s linguistic abilities.

22-honeyNext to the library there is a small TV and radio station. This is Willinx, who runs the show and also happens to have bee-hives on top of his building. He promised me honey last week, but his wife gave my bit away to someone else. So today I got my fresh honey harvested for me right in front of my eyes. Fresh, unpasteurized, straight from the hive. Sooo good !!!

Here’s Willinx suiting up for the extraction.


He says he took over the bee-keeping tradition after his father passed away.



All of this delicious honey for me !!! Here it comes, comb and all. We were snacking on it in the meanwhile, of course.



Here’s a view from Willinx roof, right near the entry to Fort-Libert茅. 聽Here you can see beyond to the rice fields past the city. And way yonder… the mountains.



Back at home and winding down the day with colleague, friend, roommate, Ruth.




P贸艂nocny wsch贸d na pieszo: Wspinaczka na Fort Capois i szczyt Sarazin

W艣r贸d aury porannych mgie艂.

Wi臋cej zdj臋膰 dost臋pnych na Flickr聽!

1. Fort Capois. 05.12.2014

Wyje偶d偶amy z Sainte-Suzanne o 6.30, odbieramy naszego przewodnika i kubek gor膮cych, 艣wie偶o pra偶onych orzeszk贸w, kt贸rymi zajadamy si臋 w drodze do Fort Capois – tego samego szczytu, kt贸rego jako baz臋 u偶ywa艂 legendarny Charlemagne P茅ralte. Tej samej g贸ry na kt贸rej zosta艂 zdradzony oraz zabity prawie 100 lat temu podczas inwazji USA na Haiti. Jedziemy wyboist膮, 偶wirow膮 drog膮 poprzez Cotelette i dalej, razem oko艂o 11km do pocz膮tku naszego szlaku. To trudny, stromy start naszej wspinaczki do celu, czyli szczytu, kt贸ry widzimy w oddali na horyzoncie. Niezra偶eni, rozpoczynamy wspinaczk臋. Po drodze mijamy ogrody. Niekt贸re bardziej rozbudowane, inne mniej. Mijamy wiele intensywnie zielonych skwerk贸w o takim rodzaju g臋stej ro艣linno艣ci, kt贸ra powinna wyst臋powa膰 w ca艂ym Haiti. By艂oby tak, gdyby nie systematyczne wycinanie drzew na opa艂 oraz przygotowywanie ziemi pod rolnictwo. Nasz cel znajduj膮cy si臋 na g贸rze p艂ata figle naszym oczom. Przewodnik t艂umaczy nam, 偶e ani ten szczyt, kt贸ry widzimy, ani kolejny, tylko ten trzeci -najwy偶szy jest celem naszej podr贸偶y. Kontynuujemy nasz膮 drog臋 w stron臋 szczytu! Mijamy r贸wnie偶 kilka wiejskich domk贸w i rodzin, machaj膮c do tych, kt贸rzy obserwuj膮 nasz膮 wspinaczk臋. B臋d膮c na szczycie po艣wi臋camy chwil臋 aby dobrze pozna膰 posta膰 haita艅skiego bohatera, dla kt贸rego ta g贸ra tak wiele znaczy艂a.

Charlemagne, P茅ralte – (1886 – 1919) – legendarny, haita艅ski przyw贸dca partyzancki, kt贸ry przeciwstawia艂 si臋 inwazji USA na Haiti w 1915. Peralte pochodzi z miasta Hinche, zlokalizowanego w centrum Haiti, ale podczas okupacji USA stacjonowa艂 w Leogane, pracuj膮c jako szef wojska w mie艣cie. Kiedy odm贸wi艂 poddania si臋 obcym wojskom, zrezygnowa艂 ze swojego stanowiska i wr贸ci艂 do rodzinnego miasta, gdzie dwa lata p贸藕niej zosta艂 aresztowany za nieudany atak na posterunek 偶andarmerii. Chocia偶 zosta艂 skazany na 5 lat pozbawienia wolno艣ci, uciek艂 z niewoli i zebra艂 grup臋 nacjonalistycznych rebeliant贸w, aby rozpocz膮膰 wojn臋 partyzanck膮 przeciwko ameryka艅skim wojskom. Wojska P茅raltego nazywane 鈥濩acos鈥 (nazwa upami臋tniaj膮ca partyzanckie wojska haita艅skie z XIX wieku) stwarza艂y tak du偶e zagro偶enie dla USA, 偶e naje藕d藕cy zostali zmuszeni do wzmocnienia kontyngentu US Marine na Haiti i do zwalczania partyzant贸w zaanga偶owali samoloty. Przez pewien czas P茅ralte prowadzi艂 skuteczn膮 wojn臋 przeciwko USA. Uda艂o si臋 nawet ustanowi膰 rz膮d tymczasowy w p贸艂nocnej cz臋艣ci kraju. Zosta艂 jednak zdradzony i zamordowany przez jednego ze swoich genera艂贸w. 呕o艂nierze Marines chc膮c zniech臋ci膰 innych do podobnych powsta艅, zrobili z P茅ralte przestrog臋 dla innych, robi膮c zdj臋cie jego cia艂a przywi膮zanego do drzwi i rozpowszechniaj膮c je na obszar ca艂ego kraju. P茅ralte pozostaje jednak haita艅skim bohaterem; jego podobizn臋 mo偶na zobaczy膰 na haita艅skich monetach wydanych przez rz膮d Aristide w latach 90. Szcz膮tki P茅ralte zosta艂y odkopane po zako艅czeniu ameryka艅skiej okupacji w 1935 roku, a obecnie znajduj膮 si臋 w Cap-Haitien.

S艂uchaj膮c historii o P茅ralte oraz historii walki o Haita艅sk膮 niepodleg艂o艣膰, ruszyli艣my ponownie szlakiem, pozostawiaj膮c jego p贸艂nocn膮 g贸rsk膮 baz臋 oraz miejsce jego zgonu. Nasza podr贸偶 powrotna przebieg艂a bez specjalnych atrakcji mo偶e poza przystankiem na pyszne pomara艅cze otrzymane od pobliskiego rolnika. 艢wietna i bardzo przydatna przek膮ska!

At the start of the trail

Na pocz膮tku szlaku

beautiful views

Pi臋kne widoki

The mountain rambles in the North-East just keep getting better!

G贸rskie wycieczki na p贸艂nocnym wschodzie s膮 coraz lepsze!

2.Pique de Sarazin (Szczyt Sarazin). 14.12.2014

Wyjechali艣my oko艂o 7:30; w ko艅cu jest niedziela. Przed nami niewiele drogi, bo od centrum Sainte – Suzanne do rozpocz臋cia naszego szlaku jest oko艂o 1km. Z poprzedniego wypadu na Fort Capois nauczyli艣my si臋, 偶e nale偶y wcze艣niej zaopatrze膰 si臋 w przek膮ski, wi臋ksz膮 ilo艣膰 wody oraz w plecak, aby to wszystko w czym艣 nosi膰鈥 no i wszyscy tym razem maj膮 na sobie d艂ugie spodnie. Na samym pocz膮tku szlaku w tle s艂yszymy wodospad, oraz widzimy rzek臋, kt贸ra kieruje si臋 w stron臋 wioski. Nasza wycieczka rozpoczyna si臋 schodzeniem z g贸rki; to tylko chwilowe u艂atwienie, poniewa偶 przed nami wiele wspinania. Po drodze nasz szlak dosy膰 cz臋sto przecina rzek臋. Czasami trafiamy na polany, na kt贸rych obiecujemy, 偶e kiedy艣 zrobimy sobie piknik. Od czasu do czasu idziemy w g膮szczu rozga艂臋zionych drzew. Przechodzenie przez rzek臋 czy strumyk mo偶emy nazwa膰 swego rodzaju zbawieniem – niekt贸rzy tury艣ci pochylaj膮 si臋, aby przemy膰 sobie r臋ce i twarz; inni zdejmuj膮 buty, aby poczu膰 przyjemn膮 zimn膮 wod臋 na swoich stopach. Jeszcze inni dobieraj膮 kroki tak, aby przedosta膰 si臋 po kamieniach na drugi brzeg mniej lub bardziej suchym. Nasza droga trwa dalej, wij膮c si臋 pod g贸r臋. B臋d膮c w centrum Sarazin przypadkowo spotykamy dw贸ch lokalnych m臋偶czyzn, kt贸rzy godz膮 聽si臋 poprowadzi膰 nas na szczyt g贸ry. Id膮c dalej, mijamy wielu mieszka艅c贸w zmierzaj膮cych w przeciwnym kierunku na msz臋. Po ka偶dym spotkaniu w naszych uszach dzwoni 鈥瀊onjou鈥 i 鈥瀙a pi mal鈥. Jeszcze troch臋 stromej wspinaczki i dochodzimy do niewielkiego p艂askowy偶u, z kt贸rego rozci膮ga si臋 wspania艂y widok na dolin臋 oraz Trou-du-Nord na horyzoncie.

Wspinamy si臋 jeszcze wy偶ej. Podczas zbaczania ze szlaku aby przedrze膰 si臋 przez wzg贸rze nasze narzekanie zamienia si臋 w protesty (gdy偶 idziemy scie偶k膮 dla k贸z). Prawie jeste艣my ju偶 na szczycie ale niestety kilka bananowc贸w i rosn膮cych s艂odkich ziemniak贸w zostaje zdeptanych podczas naszego marszu. Przewodnik zatrzymuje nas ruchem r臋ki. Najpierw musimy z艂o偶y膰 ho艂d duchom, kt贸re utrzymuj膮 t臋 g贸r臋, poprzez zaoferowanie wody i za艣piewanie specjalnej piosenki. B臋d膮c na szczycie zauwa偶amy ma艂y okr膮g z g艂az贸w; potencjalne miejsce do odprawiania ceremonii vodou. Schodzimy z g贸ry innym szlakiem, nawiasem m贸wi膮c, bardzo stroma alternatywa. Kilka odcink贸w trasy pokonujemy zje偶d偶aj膮c na ty艂kach, 艣miej膮c si臋 przy tym jak dzieci. Ach jak膮 przyjemno艣膰 sprawia ubrudzenie siebie! Czuj臋 si臋 jakbym znowu by艂a na nartach w G贸rach Skalistych 聽i utkn臋艂a na trudnym szlaku zje偶d偶aj膮c od boku do boku przy 70-stopniowym nachyleniu鈥 i zbieraj膮c przy tym sporo brudu. Wi臋cej mg艂y, pi臋kne widoki oraz szansa na przerw臋 i przek膮sk臋 ze 艣wie偶ych grejpfrut贸w i banan贸w. Wkr贸tce potem natrafiamy na zbi贸r trzciny cukrowej. Kilka krzyk贸w w stron臋 g贸r i w艂a艣ciciele p贸l z trzcin膮 cukrow膮 pozwalaj膮 nam na odrobin臋 s艂odko艣ci. Z nieba pada m偶awka, a my kontynuujemy nasz膮 drog臋, ka偶dy ze swoj膮 trzcin膮 w d艂oni. Odgryzamy du偶y kawa艂ek, kt贸ry p臋ka pod naciskiem z臋b贸w. 呕ujemy, dalej 偶ujemy, rozkoszujemy si臋 s艂odko艣ci膮, po czym spluwamy resztki. S艂odka, niechlujna, najlepsza przek膮ska na pobyt w g贸rach. M偶awka zamienia nasz膮 艣cie偶k臋 w b艂otnist膮 i bardziej 艣lisk膮 drog臋. W sumie to prosty schemat: idziesz, 艣lizgasz si臋 i tak w k贸艂ko. W ko艅c贸wce naszego szlaku znowu rozkoszujemy si臋 przeprawami przez rzek臋. Powracamy do Sarazin, 艣wiadomi, 偶e przed nami jeszcze troch臋 w臋dr贸wki zanim dotrzemy do Sainte-Suzanne. Po drodze wykonujemy kilka telefon贸w鈥 chcemy mie膰 pewno艣膰, 偶e lunch jest ju偶 w drodze. W ko艅cu ju偶 po 12.

Already well into our hike, entering the town centre of Sarazin

Wchodzimy do centrum Sarazin

Looking down into the valley and Trou-du-Nord

Spogl膮damy w d贸艂 na dolin臋 i聽Trou-du-Nord

Navigating through the mists!

Nawigacja przez mg艂臋!

The North-East on foot : Hiking Fort Capois & the peak of Sarazin

In the aura of early morning mists.

There are plenty of photos available on Flickr !

1. Fort Capois. 05.12.2014

We leave Sainte-Suzanne at 6:30, pick up our guide and a cup of hot, freshly roasted peanuts that we munch on our way to Fort Capois – the same peak that the legendary Charlemagne P茅ralte used as a base, and the mountain on which he was betrayed and killed nearly 100 years ago during the USA invasion of Haiti.

The drive is bumpy on the dirt road through Cotelette and beyond, and we traverse about 11 km in total to the opening of our hiking trail.It’s a daunting, steep start to our hike with our final destination appearing very far in the distance.We start climbing.We pass gardens, some more elaborate than others, and many intensely green areas of the kind of dense vegetation that should be present everywhere in Haiti, if not for the systematic felling of trees for making charcoal and for clearing land for agriculture.Our mountain top destination is playing tricks on our eyes, and our guide tells us that it’s not the peak we see, or the second one there in the distance, but the third, furthest and highest point that is our destination.We continue our climb!We also pass a few rural homes and families and wave to the families watching our ascent.Once on top of the mountain we take a moment to truly acknowledge the Haitian hero for whom this mountain held a lot of meaning.

Charlemagne, P茅ralte – (1886 – 1919) : a legendary, Haitian nationalist leader who opposed the US invasion of Haiti in 1915.P茅ralte came from the city of Hinche in central Haiti, but at the time of the US invasion was stationed in L茅ogane, working as the military chief of the city.When he refused to surrender to foreign troops without fighting, P茅ralte resigned from his position and returned to his hometown where he would be arrested for a botched raid on the Hinche gendarmerie two years later.Although sentenced to 5 years of forced labour, Charlemagne escaped his captivity and gathered a group of nationalist rebels to begin guerrilla warfare against the US troops.P茅ralte’s troops, called “Cacos” (a name reminiscent of Haitian rural troops of the 19th century) posed such a threat to the US that the invaders were forced to upgrade the US Marine contingent in Haiti and employ airplanes for counter-guerilla warfare.For a time, P茅ralte waged effective guerrilla war against the US and managed to establish a provisional government in the north of the country.He was however betrayed and murdered by one of his generals.The US marines, wishing to make an example of P茅ralte, took a photograph of his body tied to a door and distributed it widely throughout the country so as to discourage similar insurgencies.P茅ralte remains a revered Haitian hero; his portrait can be seen on Haitian coins issued by the Aristide government in the 90s.P茅ralte’s remains were unearthed after the end of the US occupation in 1935, and currently lie in Cap-Ha茂tien.

Amidst the story of P茅ralte’s history and fight for Haitian independence, we take to the trail again leaving behind his Northern mountain base, and place of his ultimate demise, behind us.Our return journey is uneventful aside from a treat of fresh oranges by a nearby farmer. A delicious and much needed snack !

At the start of the trail

At the start of the trail

beautiful views

beautiful views

The mountain rambles in the North-East just keep getting better!

The mountain rambles in the North-East just keep getting better!

2.Pique de Sarazin (Peak of Sarazin). 14.12.2014

We’re out by about 7:30; it’s a Sunday after all.

We’ve very little to drive this time since the trail head is just about 1 km away from the centre of Sainte-Suzanne.We’ve learned from the previous experience at Fort Capois, and this time we’re armed with snacks, more water, a backpack to carry it all… and everyone is wearing long pants. 聽Oh, the bramble.

Early on in the trail we can hear the waterfall and see the river below the path winding its way back to the village.Our hike starts off sloping down; this is only a temporary sense of ease as we’ve still got plenty of climbs ahead.There are lots of river crossings, some out in open clearings where we vow to return and enjoy聽future picnics, and some under the long arms of overhanging trees and branches.Crossing a river or a stream is always something of an event – some hikers dip down religiously to wet their hands and faces; others take off their shoes to feel the cool water on their feet. 聽Still others find the right stepping stones to get across and stay more or less dry.

Our path continues, meandering up the mountain.Once in the town centre of Sarazin we find two local men who agree to guide us to the top of the mountain.Continuing, we pass many church goers heading the opposite way with ‘bonjou’ and ‘pa pi mal’ ringing in our ears as we great everyone we come across.A steeper climb and we come unto a small plateau from which we have a spectacular view of the valley below and of Trou-du-Nord in the distance.We’re climbing even higher now, with our small bouts of complaining turning into fully fledged protests as we leave our path (nothing more than a goat trail) to scramble our way up a hill that is obviously somebody’s garden.A few plantain and yam plants get smashed in the process, but we’ve almost made it to the top.

Our guide stops us with a motion of his hand.We must first pay respects to the spirits that keep this mountain, by offering some water and a special song.Once at the peek we see a small circle of boulders; potentially a regular spot for Vodou ceremonies.We continue, coming down the mountain via a different path… and a very steep alternative.There’s some sliding down the hill on our butts while we’re laughing like kids.Oh the joy of getting yourself so very, very dirty! I feel like I’m skiing again in the Rockies and stuck on a double black diamond…sliding down a 70 degree incline sideways… and taking a lot of dirt along for the ride.

More mists, beautiful views and a chance to take a break and nibble on snacks (fresh grapefruit and bananas).Soon after, we come across a spattering of sugar cane.A few shouts across the wide valley聽and the owners of this sugar cane plot have given their permission for us to enjoy some of the sweetness.We continue on the road, a slight drizzle coming down, each person with sugar cane in hand.聽 You have to聽crack down with your teeth, pull apart a big strand, chew, chew some more, enjoy the sweetness and then spit out the remaining strands.It’s delicious and messy, and a favourite snack for when you’re out and about in the mountains.聽 Personally, I haven’t figured out yet how to eat sugar cane in a dinner-and-table setting. 聽It dribbles down my chin at every bite.聽

We’re continuing along – the drizzle turning our path somewhat muddy and that much more slippery.For a good, long while it’s simply walk, slip and repeat.The river crossings are enjoyed again, and we return to Sarazin, ever conscious that we still have quite a trek before reaching聽Sainte-Suzanne.We make a few calls ahead…to make sure that lunch is on the way.It’s already past noon.

Already well into our hike, entering the town centre of Sarazin

Already well into our hike, entering the town centre of Sarazin

Looking down into the valley and Trou-du-Nord

Looking down into the valley and Trou-du-Nord

Navigating through the mists!

Navigating through the mists!

Startups4Charity: services modernes offerts gratuitement aux ONG

Un jour un group de jeunes polonais 脿 Varsovie se sont pos茅 une question importante : “Qu’est-ce que les Startups font pour participer au d茅veloppement ? Est-ce qu鈥檈lles pourraient collaborer avec les ONG ?”.聽 C鈥檈st ainsi qu鈥檈st n茅 le projet de Startups4Charity.聽 Entre autres, on peut y trouver des services gratuits (ou 脿 prix tr猫s r茅duit) de la conception des sites web, du codage ou programmation, surveillance des r茅seaux sociaux, de traduction et des jeux interactifs d鈥檃pprentissage.

Qu’est-ce une “Startup” ?聽

鈥淪tartup鈥 est un terme issu de l’anglais qui signifie “d茅marrer”.聽 Une startup est d茅finie comme une jeune entreprise 脿 fort potentiel de croissance dans un stade d’impl茅mentation et d鈥榚xp茅rimentation.聽 De nos jours les startups sont surtout li茅es aux entreprises technologiques qui testent rapidement et agressivement de nouveaux produits et services baser sur l鈥櫭﹎ergence d’un des plus grands outils de nos temps : l’Internet.

Les startups les plus connues et les plus accessibles de nos jours sont les compagnies comme Facebook, eBay et WordPress – des compagnies jeunes, fortement investi dans la technologie et enti猫rement du monde de l’Internet.

Qu’est-ce que les Startups puissent faire pour les ONG ?聽

Une ONG 鈥榯ypique鈥 n鈥檈st pas forc茅ment connue pour son innovation technologique.聽 Quand on observe les ONG ha茂tiennes travaillant dans l鈥檃griculture, l鈥檈nvironnement ou les services m茅dicaux on se rend compte que ces organisations sont moins connect茅es et moins modernis茅es qu鈥檈lles pourraient l鈥櫭猼re.聽 Les m茅thodes de travail, de communication, d鈥檃pprentissage et de gestion les plus pratiques sont 脿 jour chez les grandes entreprises des pays d茅velopp茅s et sous-estim茅s par les ONG aux pays en vois de d茅veloppement (ou simplement inaccessibles).聽 Faut-il accepter que les outils les plus modernes et les plus innovateurs de nos jours resteront exclusivement entre les mains des organisations 脿 but lucratif ?

Pourtant, les organisations 脿 but non lucratif doivent aussi faire face aux r茅alit茅s de nos temps.聽 De plus en plus on trouve que les ONG veulent cr茅er leurs propres applications et veulent profiter de la communication offert par les r茅seaux sociaux. Elles aimeraient avoir acc猫s aux outils d鈥檃pprentissage virtuel.聽 Elles profiteraient d鈥檜n nouveau site web.聽 Mais souvent ces outils co没tent chers.聽 Encore un projet 脿 justifier devant les bailleurs ? D鈥檕霉 la n茅cessit茅 pour un service tel que startups4charity – l’acc猫s gratuit (ou 脿 prix tr猫s r茅duite) aux services modernes d茅sir茅es par les ONG.

Quelques exemples d鈥檕ffres actuelles

Sur le site web il y a environ 30 produits offert par des Startup divers. Entre elles:

  1. Brand24

Creer pour surveiller votre marque, produit ou mot cl茅 sur l鈥橧nternet et surtout dans les discussions et forums de Facebook, Twitter et Blip.




Votre propre plate-forme d’enseignement et d鈥檃pprentissage virtuelle.聽 Vous pouvez y cr茅er des le莽ons et pr茅senter vos propres cours. Combinez les r茅unions traditionnelles avec l’enseignement et l’apprentissage en ligne.




Un logiciel de chat en direct sur votre site web. Vous pouvez parler avec votre public directement sur votre site.



4.聽Turbo Translations

TurboTranslations offre des traductions authentiques, professionnelles et rapides. Soyez en mesure de diffuser vos mots partout dans le monde.


turbo translations
脌 noter:

  • Startups4Charity ne fonctionne qu鈥檈n anglais (actuellement)
  • Pour que les ONG puissent y cr茅er un compte il faut fournir un num茅ro d鈥檌dentification fiscale

Image en bas – le fondateur de Startups4Charity Mac Zielinski



Oh but to live in a chicken coop again

Stories of home and hearth : central Alberta, Canada – June-Sept 2013

When the Fishers and I decided to work together last summer, I was to be living out at their farm near the town of Didsbury most days in the week, and touching base with the big city life in Calgary the other days of the week.

I decided it would be fun to bike commute one way by bicycle, about 100km across the open prairies in a day’s time, and would catch a ride with the Fishers back into the city on our weekly trips to the Farmer’s market.聽 In between, I would be working and living at the farm. The work would be divided between online marketing activities, farm work and food prep.聽 Ah, but living… that’s where we needed some luck: my lodgings.

On a large property filled with scattered farm equipment, old sheds and trucks and even a trailer or two the Fishers knew that finding me a spot to call my own would be more a matter of creativity than actual concern.聽 We initially toyed with the idea of using one of the trailers.聽 Then, when the flood hit in June, I had a little room to myself in the main house.聽 But finally, with a phone call that made me smile, laugh and shake my head (at the hilarity of my life) I heard the news from Nolan – “I just went to see the neighbours and they have this old, unused chicken coop that we could turn into a little cabin for you”.聽 I knew that Nolan was very handy in anything construction related, but I couldn’t help but repeat it back to him, “a chicken coop?”.聽 “Don’t worry”, he assured me “it hasn’t been inhabited by a chicken since before the war.聽 There’s no smell.聽 Actually, it’s in really good condition for such a historic structure”.

To top it off, the neighbours were aghast at the thought that I would be living in their old coop and even offered me a room in their own house instead. 聽I thanked them聽and declined their offer.

Nolan quickly sent me a few pictures of the weather beaten hut with the downwards sloping roof characteristic of poultry residences.聽 I was promised general maintenance on it, a fresh coat of paint (inside and out) and a few equally historic, and perfectly quaint, pieces of furniture for inside the cabin.聽 I mean chicken coop. 聽Sheesh. Honestly, we tried to rechristen it ‘the cabin’, but once a coop, always a coop.

And mine was a real class act.

the before shot (still at the neighbours property)

the before shot (still at the neighbours property)

Continue reading

How to celebrate Agriculture Day with a paintbrush (and etching tool)

It was a coincidence (or was it?) that I headed out to Fire Escape (the pottery painting place in Calgary) last Thursday, May 1st.

May 1st also happens to be Labour and Agriculture Day in Haiti. 聽I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to pay my tributes to Kouzen聽Zaca, the patron Iwa of farmers. 聽His symbol is painted on the underside of the black and white tree-themed dish I painted. 聽Enjoy some of the following creative process via photos.


(1) dividing the piece into 8 pieces; drawing with pencil first (which comes off in the kiln so no erasing required !). 聽Most of my design is complete before applying black paint. 聽Inspiration came from this stock image.



(2) Using strips of masking tape means I’ll get straight lines when painting my black sections over. 聽Once the paint is dry you pull of the tape to reveal perfect lines underneath. A quick photo of my own pencil sketches before painting over with black means I’ll have a reference for 聽what I later need to etch out in the paint.



(3) Etching tool lies next to the complete piece. Before burning in the kiln and getting it’s glaze, the black paint appears grey.


(4) The completed piece! Loving the blend from skewed painted lines to etching in the black paint and back again. 8 sections, 2 colours, 2 trees intertwining and the continuous whole represented. Where does it start and end? Even I couldn’t tell you 馃檪



(5) and the underside bears Papa Zaca’s symbol

New materials, plants and ideas

So after the awesome Seedy Saturday event this past weekend I’ve made definite advances in my Calgary Woodlands design.

First and foremost I purchased seeds and even a few plugs – anything from sunflowers to kale – I know I’ll need a lot more but atleast it’s a start.

Have collected several dozen burlap bags from Fratello coffee distributors – great and beautiful material and I’m curious to see what place my creativity will find for it. Also adopted a bag of coffee husks… I’m sure they’ll come in handy 鈽

After meeting with the backyard owners there are concerns as to how to hide the Global buckets from sight (it may be a practical, ecological and great food growing idea but it sure aint pretty!) – we’re thinking wooden screen to cover a whole row of them in one go. There is also debate over installation of rain barrel… for aesthetic purposes we may end up having to hide it under the deck (tougher access and no gravity fed watering) but ah well…

Am loving the process, will post further progress soon – for now I’m focused and super pumped to see Joel Salatin in High River tomorrow!!


A collage of planter ideas using recycled materials

This is a collage of a dozen or so planter ideas I’m thinking of putting into action in the new Woodlands Perma project

collage of recycling ideas

So, basically…

I’ve got to phone around local businesses to see if I can get a few shipping containers, coffee bags and the like (I love the look!!) and figure out if there’s an ecological spray-paint that could transform yogourt containers into works of art…

Plus, I have several hundred CDs on my hands and would like to find a gardening use for them. 聽Perhaps I’ll cut them in half, stick ’em in the dirt and use them as bright, reflective vegetable and herb markers? Maybe I’ll make a giant cylindar “thing” and find a way to plant in it? 聽Who knows…

And get this –聽There’s an old, broken bike on site that we can use for planters too! 聽The seat’s getting replaced with a potted plant for sure, and I’d like to hang baskets from the handlebars. 聽Perhaps attach a vintage looking wagon and have plants there too.

Plants, plants, plants. 聽We’ll have them poking out of rubber boots, coffee bags and bicycles in no time!!

Sources of inspiration include:

top 30 DIY planters from:聽聽

Dishfunctional designs – about recycled salvaged materials for the garden:聽聽