Okra, No More

What would you think if someone came to your home and offered to help you start a business, but told you they needed space to put up a building?  If you’re hopeful the offer is a good offer, you rip out your garden of okra and watermelon. These are plants that were going to feed your family. But… It is worth it to start this business! You are excited because you were interviewed and chosen out of many others. Your life has been so difficult since the earthquake and you can’t always put food on the table… These people are offering hope!

This is the process a family in Williamson, Haiti went through in July of 2012. World Wide Village, a Minnesota based “non-profit” asked me to interview families and find two that would be good for the two businesses we were going to help start. One business an egg laying operation, and the other raising chickens to sell at the meat market. The family I refer to above is the family that was chosen to raise meat chickens.

This family did indeed take out their garden to have a building put up for their new business that WWV promised them. A building that was never built, a business that was never started, and hopes that were never realized! This “project” began in the beginning of July. When I left Haiti in January 2013 nothing had been done for this family! The other family that was chosen for the egg laying business has a structure that is incomplete, supplies not purchased, and no chickens! I repeatedly requested $500.00 USD to complete that project and the money never came from the headquarters in Minnesota.

About a month before leaving Haiti I was at the Guest House rented by World Wide Village. Monthly rent on that guesthouse that often sits empty is twice the cost of the $500 I was requesting for the start up of the businesses for the families in Williamson. Two of the WWV “team” members were still there. When I asked if the chicken project in Williamson (meaning the egg laying one, because they didn’t know about the other) was complete, they said the were told by Randy Mortenson (the head of World Wide Village) that the person they hired from the United States lied when they said they knew all about chickens, they really knew nothing. I look at the team member and said “He was talking about me and I didn’t lie.” I said my goodbyes and walked away.

Unfortunately the computer that contained the information on the two families and the pictures was stolen the end of July.

10/3/12  A portion of an email sent to Pat Mortenson. This was in regards to the egg laying business.

Pat,

I am assuming Randy is on a fund raising tour right now, as he has not responded to my email regarding what he wants me doing. I have sent in the same req. 2 or 3 times requesting the money to finish poultry project #1 in Williamson and have heard no reply. I would love to get that project completed. It has been about seven weeks since it was last worked on.

Enough is enough! World Wide Village and many other NGOs in Haiti lie not only to the Haitians they are “helping”, but they also lie to their givers.

Please visit http://www.ngoconfidential.wordpress.com and http://samanthamgross.blogspot.com/2012/07/communication.html      http://mcthewriter.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/confession-of-a-haitian-working-for-an-american-non-profit-organization-in-haiti/

These pictures are of the building of the above mentioned project. 

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Merging Worlds

Merging Worlds

Deep in the heart of a mountain in Haiti lays the village of Boily. The people of Boily have a 5.5 hour walk, over dusty trails and rocky roads to get to the nearest market or medical care; to get to what we would call civilization. The villagers, of whom there are about 800, live off the land, gardening and raising livestock. In Boily is a woman named Redaline, she is 63 years old and her years of toiling in the rocky mountain soil show. Redaline raised all eight of her children by working the land. Two of her children ages 16 and 19 still live at home with her, along with her ten-year old grand-daughter. As with most Haitian families they continue to work together to support each other financially even after a child moves out and marries. Redaline reminds me of many old school New England farmers I know. She could find an easier way to live, but she loves her land. Her heart, her soul, her everything is in her land. She loves to garden on her land, seeing her hard labor turn into watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes and plantain and her live stock of which she has very few, stay healthy and productive. my close friend here feels this way about her land. She works it, cares for it and loves it. Her land is another appendage, without it she would be lost; she would not be the wonderful person she is. I spend hours talking with her about gardening. We discuss the weather related to cutting hay and when to fertilize to the fields. We talk of her land and livestock as we would a child, which needs to be cared for and tended. I know that if my Creole was better Redaline and I would have these same discussions. Her passion for her land was explained to me by her son, who has tried to get her to slow down, to lease some of her property to someone else to work. Redaline loves what she does and won’t let anyone else work her land. Lately things have been very difficult to Redaline. The work is getting more difficult for her and the soil is producing less, partly due to a severe lack of rain over the past eight months. She has to consider the distance to the market when she decides how much to plant, this distance greatly impacts her decisions. Have not spoken directly to you the reader about what I do in Haiti. I am going to take the time to do it now. I help people start micro businesses; businesses that help a family realize a future. A business that helps them live a better life, a life out of poverty. I would like to give Redaline and her family a hand up, by helping them to start a business. For $800.00 we can help them buy a herd of goats. With ten female goats and two males they can start to make money the following year by selling the male off spring. This money will allow them to put food on the table, further their educations and receive medical care. On March 10th at the Piermont Congregational Church I am holding an all you can eat pancake breakfast to raise money for Redaline’s business. I would be honored to have you there! Come fill your stomach, learn about what I do in Haiti and support Redaline’s family move out of poverty. I hope to see you there. Please feel free to contact me about this or to engage me to speak to your group or organization. My number is 603.728.8949.

Nanny goat in Bercy Haiti

Small herd of goats Bercy Haiti

So What Happened? Bakery, Store and now Goats?

You the reader and supporter must be wondering if I have ADHD when it comes to the next project in Haiti. A short time ago I was writing about a bakery for Boily, and then a store/whole sale location there, and now you see me discussing a herd of goats for a woman in Boily. Well lets see if I can help clear up the confusion.

1) The bakery is off the table, unless someone with a lot of experience with solar panels can show me how this would work without covering the mountain side with them.

2) The store/whole sales buying is not completely out, just the whole sale buying. The whole sale buying piece has morphed into something different do me having travelled to Boily January 14 and seeing things up close. The store project will continue to move forward as will a project to help with the getting produce to market issue. More info to follow. The money raised for this project sits in the account waiting for the remaining funds and the right timing.

3) Herd of goats. It is an inexpensive project that I can fund raise for in a short period of time, like most of the projects I have done in the past. I will post a column about it here today, that will also be published in The Trendy Times paper out of Woodsville, NH.

So it is a matter of working out all the details to make sure that the project is successful for the people and the village. To many projects in Haiti and put together with out a lot of thought, without the input of the villagers, without a deep knowledge of what works in Haiti. None of these projects would be bad for Boily, they would all help the village and families. Its is in the fine details for the village, families and Haiti that the details have to be refined, ironed out, and discussed.

 

So let me share with you pictures of Boiy, Haiti.

Part of the road Boily

Boily, Haiti

Can you spot the houses on the other side of the gorge in Boily, Haiti?

Boily Haiti

 

Boily Church

 

Homes in Boily, Haiti

Living on the edge Boily Haiti