Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grace and beauty

Grace and beauty--

Not because of poverty.

Not exactly in spite of poverty.

Maybe, out of poverty, out of simplicity,

Using only what is absolutely essential
To form beauty that is powerful and elegant.

It is, perhaps, something like the elegance and beauty of old age.

Years and experience wearing away all that is non-essential,

Until what is left shows,

Shines through, blazes out,
Making utterly transparent any superficiality that might attempt to shroud it.

A solid reality you can count on,

And take pleasure in,

With nothing left--nothing extra--

To regret.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MPP's Road to Life Yard and Moringa Project

Alexander Placide (center) is a welcome new addition to the Road to Life
Yard crew. Alexander is a recently graduated agromist who spent three month with
the crew last year as an intern. One of Alexander's main responsibilities is helping
provide follow up and monitoring for farmers who are trying out new techniques. A generous
donation from a PC(USA) church in Oregon made it possible for us to hire Alexander this year.
Fedlin Joseph (far left), one of the crew members, is providing technical assistance to
Solone Jn Etienne (far right), helping him with new ideas for producing vegetables and fruits.

Hey Friend,

I hope you don't mind if I take a break from the earthquake and focus on some of the details of the work of MPP's Road to Life Yard and Moringa project. Since Jenny, Keila and I returned to our work and lives here this past November, I have been trying to find ways that our work in the Road to Life Yard crew could become even more effective and more far-reaching. Some of the ideas I'm trying out are inspired by a book I found at a bookstore in Managua while Jenny and I were there waiting for the birth of our daughter, Keila. I'll share the exact title and the author in a future post, but the approximate title is "Flight of the Buffalo--Learning to let employees lead."

One of the things we've done as a crew is define what our big objective is. We may change it or adjust it based on our ongoing experiences, but as of now, we have defined our crew's job as finding ways so that every single family, in the respective communities where the crew members live, is producing food in their yard all year round. Our methodology is to learn new technics and technology. We learn (and help create) new technics and technology and then we share them with the families in our communities. This information that we share has three important aspects. 1) The technology can help rural families produce more food with less work, 2) The technology respects God's creation and helps recuperate its natural abundance and 3) The techniques, as much as possible, can be learned and applies by rural farmers using their own resources, without being dependent on outside funding.

This third aspect is essential if we are truly serious about our big objective. Ultimately there is no way that we can reach every single member of all of the communities represented if we are dependent on funding to help people acquire particular technology. Our goal has to be to find ways that people can do things themselves, with what they have available. Does this mean that all of the support so many of you are so generously providing is ultimately unnecessary? Not at all. What it means is that MPP and the Road to Life Yard crew is dedicated to using the funds you all provide in the most effective ways possible, particularly by providing training and follow up (monitoring). Training and monitoring are two aspects of our work which allow farmers to apply and adapt the ideas we help provide effectively and with significant results in their own, individual contexts.

In a nutshell, that's what we are about in the Road to Life Yard and Moringa project. It is what we have been doing for the last six years. The only change now is that we are defining what we want to happen more clearly and looking for the most effective ways to make it all happen. I hope to provide more details and examples in future postings.

In Christ,


MPP--PDA proposal and seeds initiative, health center

MPP members uloading food donations from the French government
for rural families who are hosting refugees from Port au Prince
Hey Friend,
Two or three observations about MPP and the earthquake, and then I'm on to a new posting with some updates about the work of MPP's Road to Life Yard and Moringa project.
In January, in partnership with PDA (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) MPP (Mouvman Peyizan Papay--Farmer's Movement of Papaye) submitted a proposal for earthquake recovery in the Central Plateau, the Artibonite and the Northwest departments of Haiti. This project has been approved and MPP will begin receiving funds at the end of this month, or the beginning of next.
MPP's decision to focus on three departments that were not directly affected by the catastrophe in Port au Prince, is based on the large numbers of former residents of Port au Prince who have left the city and fled to the departments less affected. The problem is that the Central Plateau, Artibonite and the Northwest, where as many as 500,000 refugees may ultimately settle, are the same areas most heavily affected by the hurricanes less than two years ago. Most families in these areas, particularly the farmers, have not yet fully recovered from that disaster, which makes it extremely difficult for them to respond to the new challenge of receiving thousands of refugees. In some cases, the refugees are family members who were previously sending at least occaisional financial assistance from the capital to their parents and siblings in the countryside.
The main thrust of the proposal just approved is to help farmers in the three departments find resources and training which will help them increase food production while protecting the environment. The project will also help some families near Mirebalais (about 45 Km northeast of Port au Prince, on the main highway to Hinche) rebuild their homes. The project will also provide scholarships for over 500 high school students who had to flee Port au Prince continue their education in the provinces where they have taken refuge. Women in some of the cities will also have access to small loans to recover and/or improve their small businesses. Some of the women targeted lost their merchandise in the hurricanes of 2008 and have not yet been able to restart their businesses. Other women targeted by the proposal will be those who lost their homes and merchandise in Port au Prince in the earthquake in January, and are now refugees in new cities, without adequate resources to begin again.
Led by Chavannes Jean Baptiste, MPP's director, and guided by Carlos Cardenas from PDA, I was one of the two members of MPP's technical team who helped put the initial project together for submission. It took most of four days to do it, and it was tedious and mind-numbing. It also seemed at times unlikely that the project would ever be accepted. But now it has been and now it seems like it truly was worth every minute lost to the other work we do in the Road to Life Yard.
Praise God for that. And praise God for the many many people who have given so generously to PDA, as well as to other organizations who are faithfully working to meet the many needs in Haiti.
I also want to give recognition to folks who have provided donations for the Seeds initiative sponsored by the Presbyterian Hunger Program. This initative will provide thousands of dollars to purchase seeds for farmers looking to increase production this year to meet the increased need of their newly enlarged families.
Many thanks also to those who have sent funds to help support MPP's Integrated Health Center, "Mironda Heston." Those funds are on their way here and will help supplies, materials and salaries to help the center increase its capacity to meet the needs of the rural families in Papay, Bassin Zim and surrounding areas.
Please continue to keep MPP in your prayers, particularly as they receive funds through PDA and other organizations. MPP is made up of many concientous, dedicated people working to serve people with minimal resources. Good hearts and good intentions do not, unfortunately, guarantee perfect results. Please pray for MPP as they begin putting in place all of the mechanisms for a transparent accounting of the use of funds, and as they begin assigning the personnel who will oversee the implementation of all of the activities in the projects for which they are now responsible. The people of MPP have enormous capacity. Please pray for our Lord to bless that capacity with the Holy Spirit so that MPP may continue to work with one heart and one mind.
In Christ,

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