Saturday, June 16, 2012

ODEPOL from Léogâne visits Bassin Zim, Hinche

This is the final installment of the excellent two weeks of work in Haiti this May, which was capped by the exchange visit of folks from Léogâne to see yard gardens at work in several Bassin Zim communities.

 After spending almost a week in Léogâne, Herve, Gultho and I headed to Papaye, Hinche on Saturday, May 19th. Sunday,  I got together with Wilner Exil, a leader of the committee that is promoting yard gardens in the Carida Marketplace area, in the mountains of Bassin Zim. I wanted the committee to receive folks from the grassroots organization from Lèogâne, ODEPOL (Organisation pour le Développement de Orange-Pâque de Lèogâne: Organization for the Development Orange-Pâque of Léogâne), to show them the work the rural families are doing. Wilner immediately got together with the committee and began organizing the visit.

The group of seventeen men and women from Léogâne arrived Tuesday afternoon, May 22nd, and Wilner and I welcomed them to MPP's training center. Some participants had left their homes in the mountains at 3:00 AM to begin the journey.

MPP (Mouvman Peyizan Papay) is the grassroots organization working in Haiti's Central Plateau since 1973. It is formed of smallholder farmers and landless rural families. I have been serving with MPP as a mission co-worker of the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 2004.

After settling in and seeing some of the work we have been doing at the center, the group gathered again and Wilner presented a seminar on the importance and uses of Moringa (Moringa oleifera). Even after a long hard day of traveling, Wilner reports that the group was excited about the moringa talk The next day, around 7:30 AM,  I dropped the group off as close as possible to the first house the were to visit--Gultho Orné's home. Gultho had been with me on both trips to Léogâne and had talked about his yard garden as part of our presentation on the yard garden program, so it was exciting to be able to have the group see his house.

I went and dropped the truck off at Bassin Zim waterfall and then walked to meet the group at the second house they visited, Appoleon Jacque's home.

From where I dropped folks off at 7:30 AM until they got to the Bassin Zim waterfall (Google Earth coordinates, 19º 13' 13.63" N, 71º 58' 56.37" W) around 4:00 PM, the group traveled on foot, visiting homes in Seramon, Matbonithe, Marilapa and Leodiague, all part of the Carida Marketplace area. We had dinner at my house in Guanithe, Bassin Zim (19º 12' 27.21" N, 71º 58' 55.73" W). As we waited for dinner, Wilner and I did a simple evaluation, asking what folks had seen that was remarkable, and also what we could do better in the future for other groups. To my surprise, they said "walk slower," but not a single participant said "walk less."

Here are some photos from the day's visit, with some of the coordinates if you would like to look up the houses on Google Earth. Or pop down and visit the folks yourself! (Photos by Mark Hare and Wilner Exil, all rights reserved).

ODEPOL group crossing Samaná river to reach Gultho Orné's home. Wilner Exil, leader for the Carida Marketplace Yard Garden committee, is to the far left, putting on his boots. (19º 11' 31.41" N, 71º 59' 37.79" W--approximately)
Gultho Orné in his yard garden showing the hot peppers. The cactus-like shrub in front of Gultho is a common fencing material known as "rakèt" in the Central Plateau and "kandelab" in some other parts. (19º 11' 37.26" N, 71º 59' 43.72" W)

ODEPOL group visiting Appoleon Jacque and his wife, Orina's yard. Appoleon is second from the right, next to Wilner. (19º 12' 22.75" N, 71º 59' 28.80" W)

Diamène, a widowe with three children, explaining to Boston Jean Gilles, president of ODEPOL, the value of the cistern in helping increase her vegetable production. Diamène is putting two of her children through high school and has one in the University, with her agricultural work, including a significant component coming from the vegetable production in her yard.

Kisner (far right) and his wife (second from right), telling the group exactly how much money he made in the last three years from some of the fruit and vegetable production in his yard. Kisner is president of one of the cooperatives that MPP helps support.

Madanm Jasmà, explaining emphatically to the ODEPOL group how much she likes yard garden production. When I went with Apolleon and Wilner to visit their work last November, we gave Madanm Jasma and her husband several suggestions for improving the work. When we arrived at their yard with the ODEPOL group, I was extremely pleased to see they had done nearly everything, and done it very well.(19º 13' 30.67" N, 72º 00' 2.61" W--approximately)

Wilner Exil (center) in his own yard, showing members of the ODEPOL group his vegetable tires. Wilner had almost half of his twenty tires in Pak Choy, a new vegetable two of the Road to Life Yard crew members had brought back from a conference in Haiti sponsored by ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization). (19º 13' 16.69" N, 71º 59' 17.76" W)

Julienne Dorcin (left) and Tesil Exil (right) serving the meal they had prepared for the group at Wilner's home. Julienne is a member of the Carida Marketplace committee, and has become exceptional in making some of the main techniques work in her own yard, as well as working with her family, friends and neighbors. Tesil, Wilner's wife, besides caring for their five children and helping with the field crops, has taken on most of the day to day care of their yard garden.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A walk in the mountains of Léogâne--Part III: Mancicile & Citronier

And the saga now continues! After our trip into Pâque and Orange on Monday and Tuesday, May 14th and 15th, Boston Jn Gilles, the president of ODEPOL(Organisation pour le Développement de Orange-Pâque de Lèogâne: Organization for the Development Orange-Pâque of Léogâne), took us to a community called Mancicile (sp?) in the municipal section of Citronier (Sitwonyè, in Creole). This trip took about two and a half hours, one hour in public transportation (pickup trucks with the back of the pickup covered and wooden seats installed) and about one and a half hours on the back of motorcycles. We were four people, so we doubled up on two motorcycles. (Photos by Mark Hare & Herve Delisma, all rights reserved)

Mark on the motorcycle that Boston and he rode.

The road that we went on to speak with folks in the upper part of the Citronier municipal section. Can't see the road? Start on the right, about half way down the photo, and you will see a ridge. Follow the ridge as it goes down towards the left, then up on the left side of the photo and finally, near the top left of the photo, it takes a sharp turn back to the right. Keep following the ridge as it rises up to a dome. We met with folks somewhere just on the far side of that dome. If you expand the photo, you can see the trace that was our road. As in all our trips, the landscape was spectacular.

Our patient audience. In all of our trips in Léogâne, we were rarely on time, and the first thing Boston always said was how he was sorry for our delay. This was a group of approximately 90 men and women from the areas surrounding the Mancicile community. We talked  for almost exactly an hour and then hurried back, to make sure we ddn't get caught in the rain, which would have made the road much more complicated. As always, Gultho shined.

Boston Jean Gilles walking up the rive to our final presentation in May, a community in the lower part of the Citronier municipal section. We took motorcycle taxis for about half an hour and then walked for forty-five minutes, crossing this river nineteen times. An easy trip!

Finally, a decent photo of Gultho Orne (far left) presenting the work of his yard garden to the group in lower Sitronier. Boston Jean Gilles is sitting at the table and ODEPOL's vice-president, Presime, is standing to the right of Boston. As I mentioned in Part I and II, Gultho's presentations were completely unsophisticated, and very effective.

Presime pointing to a parcel of land where a forest regenerated naturally. God's abundance is present everywhere in creation. Our goal is to heal the wounds we have made in God's world, and release the power of creation to provide its fruits in abundance.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A walk in the mountains of Léogâne--Part II: Orange-Pâque

Monday, May 14th, Boston Jean Gilles, the president of ODEPOL (Organisation pour le Développement de Orange-Pâque de Lèogâne: Organization for the Development Orange-Pâque of Léogâne), led us up into the mountains to meet with an assembly of farmer groups in his home sector of Pâque. The walk was  extremely informative as well as very good exercise. The walk took about five hours, starting from Fayette, a small community about eight miles east from Lèogâne, right by the Grand Rivière de Lèogâne. Here are some MORE of the pictures. They are generally high resolution, so take time to click on the ones that interest you most to see more detail. (Photos by Mark Hare and Herve Delisma, all rights reserved). For Google Earth users, you can check out the area around 18º 26' 22.05" N and 72º 29' 17.95" W.

From left to right, Herve Delisma, Gultho Orne and Boston Jean Gilles, standing by a revolutionary war era cannon. About three hours into the hike, we reached this cannon, overlooking the valley leading down to the West, towards Léogâne and the ocean. It was placed here by the former slaves during slave revolt and subsequent revolution, between 1797 and 1803, that led to freedom for over 500,000 slaves and  Haiti's independence from France.
Soil conservation hedgerows formed along the contours of the slope using elephant grass, a relatively nutritious grass that provided decent forage for goats and cows. As we reached the municipal section of Pâque and began walking through the area where ODEPOL was founded, we began seeing fields like this, where the farmers have learned to begin protecting their soils.
The meeting place for our encounter with the farmer and women's groups from Pâque. Eighty-five men, women and youth attended the presentation, some walking for close to an hour to the site.
Mark Hare, mission co worker of the PC(USA)  using a Power Point presentation to explain the concept of integrated diversified yard gardens. After about thirty minutes of presentation and explanation, Gultho provided another twenty minutes of testimony about his work in his own yard. Then Boston helped us field questions from the group, with Gultho, Herve and Mark responding as appropriate. One of the main questions was when we were going to begin the program in their mountain communities.

Mark trying to get warm. Between 3,500 and 3,800 feet above sea level, the site was chilly, especially when a heavy downpour began, a few minutes after our presentation was finished.
This is a typical field in the mountains, planted to black beans. The soils tend to be heavy clay, but can be very productive. These beans are planted on long hills that are carefully formed using hoes. When these hills are formed following the contours of the slope, they are a temporary but effective means of soil conservation. In the picture also are bananas, mango and other fruit species.
Houses and yard in the Pâque-Orange area of Lèogâne. A typical scenario for mountain homes is two or more homes clustered together, each belonging to various members of the extended famil. The yards are typically filled with shade and fruit trees. Our challenge as we work with people on their yard gardens is NOT to re-invent something they already do very well, but to find niches in these systems where we can help people produce even more. One concern, for example, is that fruit trees produce seasonally. So we can focus on techniques that can allow families to produce food on a daily basis. Intensive planting of moringa trees and Haitian basket vines are possible options.
Boston Jean Gilles (far left) introducing the presenters to a farmer's group in Lower Orange. After sleeping Monday night as guests of Boston's brother and wife in Pâque, we walked down the mountain Tuesday morning, about two and a half hours, to this community in the lower part of the municipal section of Orange. We had presented the integrated diversified yard garden program to farmers in Upper Orange when we visited Lèogâne in April.
Mark Hare and his Power Point presentation presenting to the group in Lower Orange. After about thirty minutes of presentation and explanation, Gultho presented. The laptop battery just made it for the two meetings, Monday and Tuesday.

We got back down to the "flatland" Tuesday PM about 2 o'clock, and slept a good part of the rest of the day. Even Boston slept, and he is usually meeting with some group or other, or doing workshops, during whatever part of the day he isn't hosting us or leading us up or down some mountain.

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