Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gift of Seedlings

Happy New Year and Happy Haitian Independence Day!

I have unexpectedly delayed my return to Haiti until the end of January, in part due to travel advisories for Port-au-Prince due to increased protests that are blocking travel around the capital. In short, protesters are unsettled by the current presidential administration's inability to hold elections--dating back to 2011. Protesters in part have called for the resignation of the now former prime minister. He did resign, and since his resignation, President Michel Martelly has nominated a replacement during his Christmas Day message.

If the government is not able to hold elections by January 12th, parliament will be disbanded. Please pray for Haiti during this tense political time, where many are worried about the country falling back into unproductive political turmoil--something that has contributed to the country's lack of development for centuries. This would be especially disheartening now, given the bright spots of development in Haiti in recent years. See this article from the New York Times, Scrooges of the World, Begone! (Thanks, Al Brady, for forwarding that article.)

For the rest of this post, I want to exhibit another reason for hope and a reason to expect progress in Haiti. I've talked about Agronomist Hermane before, but I want to feature a recent event he organized and held for the children of the primary school in Chapoteau.

I have been working with Hermane on a fish farming initiative for Chapoteau that we are planning in collaboration with Partners in Agriculture (Zanmi Agrikol). Rather than me introduce Hermane and his dreams for Chapoteau, I'll let him share that with you in this video (that's Malachi translating, and Paul Palmer behind the camera):
Hermane has been growing many seedlings in a nursery that he's built at his house in Chapoteau. He recently held an event at the end of the fall semester for the school students in Chapoteau where he distributed seedlings for them to take to their homes and help grow their gardens. He hopes this will improve health, food access, and the economic situation of town residents.

For a bit of background, Chapoteau, like some other rural communities in Haiti, relies on the production of charcoal. Due to efforts to curb deforestation, a very serious issue in Haiti, the charcoal market for Chapoteau has been cut off. Trucks that used to stop by Chapoteau on their way to Port-au-Prince are no longer picking up the sacks of charcoal. Certainly, efforts to stop deforestation are important to pursue, but there are local, negative impacts of such measures in the short term, and Chapoteau residents will need to adjust to find another source of income.

Hopefully, Hermane, Zanmi Agrikol, our financial partners and I can get the fish farming co-op up to speed in short order in 2015.

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