It is an important time of year in Haiti – its planting season. Lambi Fund members throughout Haiti are gearing up to plant crops and maximize the use of their land. Thanks to invaluable support by donors like you, these Haitian farmers are ready to utilize numerous improve agriculture methods. For instance, ROJETAT is excited to utilize the use of ox-plows to cultivate and prepare their land. Newly purchased oxen and a plow will help these members plow their fields in a timely and efficient manner. Previous years’ planting seasons have been a stressful and back-breaking time for Haitians who were left to plow their fields by hand using hoes. The introduction of an ox-plow service is quickly making this tough reality a thing of the past!
Help continue to support Haitian peasants like members of ROJETAT as they strive for improved methods to cultivate their fields and increase crop outputs. Empowering entire communities towards greater self-sufficiency and food security is an investment well made.
Our recent visit to the Lambi Fund’s work outside of Gonaives on January 11, 2011, was my fist venture into the bush of Haiti. A few hours to the north of Port au Prince, their work was located near beautiful mountains and hills that I’m impressed our truck was able to navigate. We passed beautiful beaches, banana farms, and rice paddies, and we eventually came to the area outside of Gonaives where Lambi helps a community-based group operate an agricultural co-op. We first saw the organic plantain nursery they use to grow plants, which they share with a larger community group in somewhat of a credit and barter system. They do not charge for the pants, which take 8-10 months to grow fruit and sprout 40 plants from one bag/bulb, but rather they give them away to local community groups who plant them, use and/or sell them in turn, and return two new seeds to Lambi for them to cultivate and recycle back into the nursery system.
Not far down the road, we were greeted by roughly thirty members of the community group that benefits from this system. There were representatives from each of about a dozen local groups who participate in this co-op. In addition to bananas, they do cereal transformation using the engine they recently obtained to process grains, as well as other agriculture and livestock such as corn and goats. They hold monthly meetings, during which they determine their greatest needs, and they are currently focused on obtaining sufficient clean water for the community. Each family in the group is using a chlorine filtration system at present, but at a cost of 500 goudes per month, that has been cost-prohibitive for the group. Much of community members lost their livelihoods in the earthquake as well as many of their brightest hopes for the future in the form of local students who’d gone to Port au Prince for university but didn’t survive last January’s earthquake destruction.
Despite the obvious needs of the community, they couldn’t have been more welcoming or proud of the great work that Lambi has helped them achieve to date. They proudly introduced themselves to us – from the overall community group leader, Etienne Emario, to the women who take care of daily needs of the organization, Chrismene and Paulmimose. And we greatly benefited from their crops and farming, as Chrismene, Paulmimose, and other women of the group created a beautiful and delicious lunch feast for us. In addition to this delicious send-off, they provided us with a list of their most pressing office needs, which I have attached to this report for you to see as well.
The first stop in an itinerary that took us from Port-au-Prince to Haiti's most Northwestern town, Mole St. Nicholas, was at the Center for Plantain Propagation where we met with members of two partner organizations, Peasants Organization of Gwo Mon and Peasants Organization of Sél (AGPGM and APS). The meeting's agenda as set by the organizations included discussions about Lambi Fund's emergency assistance campaign and the work implemented at the Center.
As anticipated, we were all touched by moving accounts of earthquake stories shared by all. We heard of the tears shed over fallen relatives and neighbors.
We were all moved by the narratives of solidarity and mutual support extended to total strangers who walked into their lives traumatized, wounded and seeking support. Our partners told the stories that we would hear along the way. Stories of communities overwhelmed by refugees, men and women eager to help but wondering how they would all survive with their meager supplies of food and water, in the absence of any type of assistance.
Mr. Josephat, a member of APS recalled tearfully:
"I had 21 people, strangers staying with me and my family. We did not think twice about welcoming them, but we had not yet figured out how they would be cared for or how they would be fed.
When we heard about Lambi Fund's program to help impacted families, I was so happy that I cried. I cried because I was touched and shocked that people who had been at the center of this disaster had the time to think about us.
I was so proud to be a member of a strong organization, and I really deeply understood why being organized is the path to a better life. We would have been left to our own devices without Lambi Fund's support.
The government never came and the NGOs which did drop by brought free food supplies and their methods of distribution stripped us of our dignity."
His sentiments were echoed throughout our visits in the Northwest. Haitian peasants continued to reiterate that Lambi Fund delivered aid respectfully through the direct engagement of partner communities.
Reports from all communities visited confirmed that the second phase of Lambi Fund's emergency assistance program focusing on food production and food security was a total success. Nearly all farmers from Gwo Mon to Gwo Sab shared their success stories of fast growing cultivation within two months of the earthquake. Thanks to Lambi Fund's support, partner communities generated bountiful harvests of peas, vegetables and corn for consumption and sale at local markets.
In Mawotyé, farmers were less successful with the Emergency Fund's second phase because they purchased most of their seeds from a government agency which was selling hybrid seeds donated by the international community. This unfortunate deviation from their tradition of acquiring local seeds proved very costly. According to disappointed farmers, with the exception of corn cultivation, the harvest for peas, okra, millet and other vegetables was dismal. The farmers said that they have learned their lesson and will return to purchasing local seeds.
In all communities visited, farmers reported that their ongoing projects were now proceeding on-course following justifiable post-earthquake interruptions. In Gwo Mon, activities related to plantain production, sale and processing were going strong.
"I was so proud to be a member of a strong organization, and I really deeply understood why being organized is a path to a better life."
Members of KFTK-NW in Remon, spoke of the importance of the Lambi Fund's support immediately following the earthquake and the Second Phase of assistance focusing on food security and sustainability. In Gwo Sab, farmers, fishermen and market women thanked Lambi Fund for its support of their efforts to modernize their fishing practices and to capitalize the women's microcredit fund. Members enumerated in very somber tones the names of all the men who perished at sea in the past - victims to the elements and the rudimentary boats they used for fishing. Gwo Sab's collaboration with Lambi Fund has resulted in the purchase of new motor boats, is saving lives and helping build a more sustainable future for their community.
This trip into the Artibonite and Northwestern parts of Haiti illustrated the undeniable fact that Haiti's farmers rightly reflect the post-earthquake psyche of those in urban communities. Haitians, throughout the entire country, are all overcoming the immense trauma of January's earthquake.
Like their urban counterparts in Port-au-Prince, Haitian farmers are determined to be part of their country's reconstruction. Lambi Fund is proud to be a tool which will assist them in the realization of these dreams and visions for a stronger Haiti. In addition to continuing our support of sustainable economic and environmental activities, Lambi Fund has pledged to amplify these voices and their determination to be included in this historic moment for nation building in Haiti.
It’s been seven months since January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. Thanks to the outpouring of support from donors like you, Lambi Fund has provided emergency cash disbursements to 43 grassroots organizations throughout Haiti.
Rural parts of Haiti received over ½ a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) following the earthquake. These local organizations have used the emergency grants to purchase clothes, food, medical supplies and other life essentials for earthquake survivors.
Ostazia Ogusten and her husband have 10 children and live in Mahotiere in North West, Haiti. She states that, “After the quake our household doubled. It was extremely problematic. We didn’t have the means to care for them. It’s thanks to Lambi Fund that we got the relief we so desperately needed. We could supply food, water, and medical supplies to earthquake survivors.”
Providing emergency relief to earthquake survivors was just the beginning. These individuals need to develop forms of sustainable incomes and integrate into their new communities. Your continued support will help survivors launch small business enterprises and plant crops for their families- providing hope for today and tomorrow.
Thanks to your immediate support, the Lambi Fund of Haiti has been able to provide relief on a level that never before would have been possible. Please read the article below from Lambi Fund's Spring 2010 Newsletter. Hopefully it will provide you with a glimpse of life post-quake in Haiti. It also discusses Lambi Fund's progress made so far and our plans for the future.
PROGRESS AMID THE CHAOS:Lambi Fund Responds to the Earthquake Disaster in Haiti
The world watched in horror as the toll on human life unfolded. Never before, declared UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, has a natural disaster been so devastating.
The Presidential Palace crumbled, UN headquarters were destroyed, building after building collapsed like pancakes.
Unbelievably, 250,000 residences were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
The horrible stench of death lurked in the city for weeks afterwards. Over 200,000 people were killed. More than 150,000 individuals injured and left to live life as amputees. In the blink of an eye, nearly 2 million Haitians were rendered homeless.
Responding to such a catastrophe has not been easy. Through the rubble, roads were impossible to navigate and trying to coordinate the influx of international donor agencies was declared a logistical nightmare.
Earthquake survivors left with no homes, no food, and no jobs quickly realized that aid distribution would be slow and unreliable.
Thus over 500,000 affected residents caught the first bus they could find to live with family members and friends in the rural provinces of Haiti.
This massive migration of internally displaced persons has wreaked havoc on already impoverished rural communities, where the average person still survives on less than $2 a day. Some rural populations (so much as) doubled overnight.
Keeping with the Haitian tradition of peasant solidarity, rural communities have been quick to take in quake survivors and have shared with them everything they have. The 80-year-old mother of the field monitor for Fon Lanbi Pou Ayiti has taken in 39 people in her small house.
Christianne Adrien, a street vendor, and her husband Ilson, a farmer, took in 18 members of her extended family. "If it were for the money, we would never have done it."
After the earthquake, more than a half million people fled Port au Prince and relocated to rural areas.
They, along with thousands of peasants throughout Haiti have spent what little they have on clean water, medical supplies, clothing, bags of rice, and cans of beans for their new neighbors. Peasants have slaughtered precious cows to bring meat to patients at local hospitals.
Christianne continues, "We did this because we wanted them to have a life. If God saved the life of some people from a catastrophe of that size, it's so that we can protect the life of others. People have to live; you have to receive them."
It is here, through fellow Haitians and local grassroots networks that earthquake survivors are receiving the aid that they so desperately need. Resources are tight, but the spirit of sharing stays strong.
Clearly, the earthquake has touched each and every Lambi Fund of Haiti staff member who along with their fellow citizens sustained damages and suffered personal losses. In spite of these hardships, Lambi Fund staff members sprang into action to help address the urgent needs of 43 rural communities impacted greatly by the massive exodus out of the capital.
In collaboration with our grassroots partners, Lambi Fund convened regional assemblies of local peasants to define immediate needs and prioritize rebuilding efforts.
In the first phase, Lambi Fund focused on the delivery of food and other essentials to rural communities to meet the immediate needs of earthquake survivors who had resettled to these communities.
With the help of regional committees and other partners, the Lambi Fund was able to distribute the following:
Done (wired $712k)
-Grants to 22 grassroots groups in Artibonite, which has received over 162,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Port au Prince - to buy clothes, food, meds, and other essentials and infuse the local economy
- Cash disbursements to cover losses of Fon Lanbi Pou Ayiti staff members in Port au Prince
- Grants to two grassroots women's groups in Port au Prince who lost everything in the quake - to buy clothes, food, meds, and other essentials and infuse the local economy
- Grants to four grassroots groups in the Northwest, which has received over 45,000 IDPs - to buy clothes, food, meds, and other essentials and infuse the local economy
- Grants to 17 grassroots groups in the South, which has received over 25,000 IDPs - to buy clothes, food, meds, and other essentials and infuse the local economy
- Distributed medications (value $8K, donated by UUSC) to hospital in Gwomon
- Distributed tents and basic supplies to 17 grassroots groups in South (donated by Hope for Haiti)
- Grants to 42 peasant organizations for Farmers Credit Funds so that 1,260 farmers in the Artibonite, South, West and Northwest departments can plant increased crops to feed themselves and IDPs with locally grown food.
Next steps in rebuilding Haiti include focusing on sustaining and strengthening development in rural areas including:
Mid and long term ($1M)
- Increase micro-enterprises with additional community microcredit funds
- Increase organic, locally-grown food and clean water with expanded sustainable agriculture, reforestation and water access projects
- Increase livelihoods with expanded sustainable development projects, such as pig and goat breeding, grain mills and sugar cane mills
- Build 880 latrines to prevent spread of disease and increase sanitation in rural areas, as a result of rapidly growing population from IDPs
- Distribute 100 wheelchairs to the large number of amputees whose limbs were crushed in the earthquake.
- Expand women's programs to address the special needs of women (who are more vulnerable to domestic violence and sexual assault in tent cities but several organized women's groups are standing up for the rights of women and children)
Supporting Policy Advocacy to express the voice of the Haitian people in rebuilding Haiti will be an important component of long-term rebuilding plans. Lambi Fund is committed to taking a leadership role in advocacy by speaking out on behalf of rural communities, by creating strong partnerships with a coalition of like-minded groups working together to rebuild Haiti, and by supporting the needs of women, particularly within the context of the rebuilding effort now underway. As foreign corporations and governments jockey for rebuilding contracts, the Haitian voice has been neglected.
This cannot continue; the voice of the majority must be heard.
In order to incorporate Haitians and their perspectives, Lambi Fund has developed a five point plan for prioritizing rebuilding in Haiti:
National sovereignty. The ownership of rebuilding Haiti must come from the Haitian people. Real change must come from the majority poor. Not from politicians. Not from the elite. And not from foreign governments. Haitians must be the change agents through participatory democracy.
Decentralization. The migration of over 500,000 earthquake survivors from the rubble of Port-au-Prince to rural Haiti offers the opportunity to create a decentralized infrastructure that can lead to regional centers for economic development, better roads, public education, health care, social services and access to potable water and sanitation.
Stimulate local economy. The earthquake offers a unique opportunity for the international community to work in partnership with Haitian peasant groups to increase our capacity to feed the country and support the local economy.
Rebuild Haiti right. In addition to true land reform, Port au Prince and other damaged towns must be rebuilt with disaster resistant building codes that are rigorously monitored. Rebuilding must be done by Haitians, who are desperately in need of a boost in fair and equitable employment opportunities.
Environment must be at the center of restoring Haiti. Deforestation represents one of the greatest threats to Haiti's food security. Restoration of the environment is crucial to sustaining a functioning economy and productive agricultural sector, providing sufficient employment, and recreating natural buffers against inevitable environmental challenges, which include climate change.
Lambi Fund recognizes the critical role that will be played by women and farmers in the rebuilding of Haiti, and will continue to advocate for their inclusion in the creation of a plan and a new vision for Haiti.
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