Monday, October 7, 2013

A time for workshops--Léogâne

All of the workshops in August, in Verettes and in Léogâne had two main objectives. One was to refresh the minds of the main technicians from each area, to help make sure they really have some of the basic information down pat. The second main objective was to include new people from each of the communities represented by the local technicians, especially individuals from the respective homes of the technicians themselves.

Before sharing the pictures, I want to share some of the basic information about where we went to hold the Léogâne workshops. I have at least two reasons for sharing some of these walking numbers. One is what among friends I would call "bragging rights." But the more important point is to share with you a sense of the enormity of what everyone we work with does every day. Wherever you go in the mountains of Léogâne, once you leave your yard, you are either going up a mountain, or down. Our friend Luccéne has one daughter who lives in Port au Prince and was visiting back home when we were there. We asked her if she walks a lot in Port. She said with a great deal of energy, "Yes! I walk a lot!" And her younger brother replied scornfully, "Flatland walking. Flatland walking." The people with whom we work in the FONDAMA Yard Garden Program are not your average person. They are Haitians who live in and love the mountains. And they do miracles on a daily basis.

After driving to Léogâne from Verettes on Friday, August 24th, Tiga, Wilner and I spent Saturday organizing and resting in Darbonne (about 5 miles east of Léogâne). Then on Sunday morning, August 26th, Tiga, Wilner and I headed up the mountains to Luccène Sommervil's home.

From the community of Jan Jan (N 18.47308º, W 72.53545), at the base of the mountain by the side of the river "Grand Rivière de Léogâne" (The Grand River of Léogâne) to Luccène's home (N 18.43483, W 72.49342)  is a 10.6 km walk, going from about 150 meters above sea level to about 980 meters (a climb of about 2,400 feet, walking around 6 miles). This time we did it in about 4 hours. This particular stretch is why I have become more serious about trying to exercise on a regular basis.

Our first Léogâne workshop was on Monday at Luccène´s house, with 8 or 9 participants.

Tuesday we walked most of the day to get to Serge Tresier's home in lower Citronier, passing by the Catholic Church and Technical School in Bosejou (N 18.42083, W 72.50700).  Serge's home is located at N 18.41245, W 72.55061.That was a walk of 13.4 km, going from 980 meters above sea level down to 252.

We held a workshop at Serge's home on Wednesday, August 27th, with twenty participants. Half of that workshop we held under a torrential downpour, half protected by tarps that Serge had wisely stretched over his yard. Did I mention that we work with miracle workers? Half-drowned by the rain, our workshop participants were laughing, joking and responding to our questions about what they had learned before the rain started.

Late Wednesday afternoon, after the river by Serge's house had subsided, we made our way down the river to the Miton crossroads ("Kafou Miton")--actually a crossroads of footpaths, not what you would normally consider roads. There Tiga, Wilner and I caught a taxi (motorcycle taxi) driven by Serge's son, Breque back to our base in the community of Darbonne.

Thursday morning we drove (!) three or four miles to the home of Gladis (N 18.47107, W 72.57529), where we held our third and final Léogâne workshop, with about sixteen participants.

Here are some of the photos from our time in Léogâne (Photos by Herve Delisma, all rights reserved):

A beautifully laid out field of yam, corn, pigeon pea and beans. As I walk through the mountains, I am continually reminded that my ministry is not to teach people how to do good agriculture. It is to help them recognize what they already do that works very well, identify practices that are destructive and bring resources to them to help develop alternatives that can effectively replace bad practices.

Workshop participants Rodrigue and Merina at Luccène's house preparing the soil mix for vegetable tires. Rodrigue came to the workshop with Esterne, the local technician who lives about four kilometers down the mountain from Luccène. Merina, a widow who is raising several children and grandchildren, lives a hundred yards or so down the mountain from Luccène and his family.

Mark preparing the manure and water mix to feed the red worms. Esterne (left), looks on.

Mark and Merina preparing the tire for the California red worms. Esterne's wife (yellow shirt) looks on.

Wilner (red hat) teaches workshop participants to prepare the organic insecticide made from sour oranges, onions, garlic, neem leaves and laundry soap. He also taught me. After seeing this insecticide prepared dozens of times, I finally decided I better learn it straight from a maestro.

Peeling, grating, crushing and pounding to make the insecticide.

Wilner shares about the value of moringa (Moringa oleifera) with workshop participants.

As we ended the workshop, we asked participants to provide an evaluation.

Luccène (front) leads Patience down the mountain to Serge's house. Herve, my multi-talented assistant, follows behind. Patience has made our walks through the mountains much much more pleasurable, carrying our clothes and materials and allowing us to walk unencumbered. Patience also helps carry tires up to the yards and will, we hope, help us get materials up for hydraulic ram pumps.

Luccène explained her name more clearly to me this last visit. He said her name is Patience because when she decides to try to go her own way and do her own thing, we have to maintain our patience until she finally decides to go where we want and do what we need her to do.

On our way down Beausejou mountain, going to Serge's house, we cam across these neighbors preparing the grave for a friend who had died the previous day. A three hour walk away from his house, Luccène recognized at least one of the men working here.
Off of the steepest slopes, we walked the rest of the way by and in a series of streams/rivers. This is a Mapou tree (Ceiba pentandra), an example of the original forest that once covered the mountains and valleys of Haiti.

Starting to cross the rivers.

Working on soil mixes at Serge's home.

Me, as always, preaching the good news of red worms.

Sharing the good news of God's abundance during the last workshop at Gladis's home, Thursday August 29th,  exploring the texts from Genesis 2:15 and Revelation 22: 1-3. We used these texts in all of the workshops, using the CHE system of participatory reflection.

Third Léogâne workshop, mixing up the soil.

Wilner working the insecticides. Then the moringa component and finally, the quiz game to help participants review what they had learned. Finally, after six full days of workshops over two weeks, not to mention a bit of walking, Herve, Wilner and I were done and ready to head towards our respective homes.

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