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.

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