Saturday, September 27, 2008

peace, love and reforestation

MCC Haiti in brief: peace, love and reforestation... (also upholding and monitoring human rights, empowering the poor and marginalized, facilitating mutually transformative relationships, and so on)

While most of MCC's goals here are hard to measure, my visit to Desarmes and the MCC forestry program was exciting and demonstrative of one of the things MCC does in Haiti: Trees! MCC has helped set up and supports 23 community-run tree nurseries (pepinyè) throughout the Dezam area. The nurseries contract and sell trees to other organizations with forestry programs ie. IOM, and also sell trees at a minimal cost to community members. MCC provides technical and organizational training, some financial assistance and helps to find buyers for the trees, but the nurseries are otherwise run on their own. The goal is obviously that they be self-sustainable. Collectively this year, the pepinyè grew and sold 450,000 trees!

The program also supports privately-owned ti forè, or little forests, which has proven to be the fastest way to carry out reforestation. Individuals receive training (on soil conservation, sustainable harvesting, interplanting trees with corn and sorghum etc) from MCC, purchase tree seedlings and plant forests of their own. The ecological, social and economic (trees are scarce in Haiti and sustainable tree harvesting provides a major economic boost to the owner of a ti forè) impact of these ti forè is notable!

And finally, MCC Dezam has an environmental education program in 14 schools in the area. The MCC team trains teachers, who in turn teach their students about environmental appreciation and protection, the difference between trash and compost, and, with the cooperation of the community pepinyè, how to plant and care for tree seedlings.

I want to end this post with the lyrics to a fun little song that we learned in Dezam:

Piti piti na rive (little by little we'll arrive)
Piti piti si n mache (little by little if we walk)
Yon jou na rive (one day we will arrive)

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