I got home from Haiti yesterday, arriving in Barahona at noon, after leaving the mountains of Haiti's Central Plateau at 5 AM. Barahona, in the southwestern corner of the Dominican Republic is where Jenny and our daughters, Keila and Annika live--and where I live a little more than half of each month. The other half of each month, I am in Haiti, where together with a number of the leaders of MPP (Mouvman Peyizan Papay), I am beginning to work with other rural grassroot organizations. MPP is Haiti's largest grassroots organization serving smallholder farmers and landless rural families.
In April I made my first visit to Léogâne, about 30 miles west of Port au Prince, to begin getting to know an organization called ODEPOL (Organisation pour le Devloppement Paque-Orange de Léogâne--The Organization for the Development of Paque-Orange of Léogâne). In April I and my two associates from Papay, Gultho Orne and Herve Delisma made presentations three times to a selection of ODEPOL's community groups.Now in May, we presented five times in five different locals. The municipal division of Paque was one of these. Monday, May 14th, we headed up into the mountains for a five hour walk to reach the community where we were to present. When we arrived, they served us rich mountain coffee with fresh cow milk and then set us to work, presenting our integrated diversified yard garden program to some 85 members, representing seven or eight different farmer groups. The response was exciting. Then our turn was finished and the group began discussing an internal matter relating to a corn mill donated to the community. In the meantime, a heavy rainstorm hit. Between the five hour walk, a heavy rain hitting the tin roof of the meeting area and trying to figure out a topic I didn't really know anything about, I ended up dozing, snuggling into the group to keep warm.
Boston Jean Gilles is the president of ODEPOL and our host when we are in Léogâne. Boston was born and raised in the community that we visited May 14th. ODEPOL began in the two municipal sections of Paque and Orange in the 1980's, but has since spread to all thirteen of Léogâne's mountainous sections.