Planting Dinner for February

Zanmi Sasye President Gerry Keenan returned from Haiti last weekend. Here is his update on the situation in the Sassier area.

It is now 7 weeks since Hurricane Matthew made a direct hit on Sassier and the surrounding area.  The focus has shifted from immediate needs — food, medical care, etc. to recovery–more permanent housing repairs, reopening schools and redeveloping of livelihoods for rural residents, who rely on the land for most of their food and income.

Restoration of agriculture and animal husbandry is essential. Sassier area residents lost most of their fruit trees and farm animals.  Their fall crops, just planted in September, were washed away. There will be no harvest in January, when beans, root vegetables and other staples would have been harvested.  Quick action is required to avoid famine in the Spring, when international organizations’ food relief efforts will begin to wind down.

Thanks to your generous donations, we have been able to ramp up agricultural operations in cooperation with our local partners and some US based friends.  The initial success was the distribution of more than 50,000 sweet potato cuttings to farmers in Sassier and nine other villages.

Huge thanks to the Trees That Feed Foundation in Winnetka for arranging the delivery of these cuttings to a secure location near Jeremie, the provincial capital near Jeremie.   The team that delivered the cuttings reported that people were very happy to receive the cuttings. The pastors told the people “Now people are giving you food, but in February, the food you will have is what you plant now.”

Like Pouring Sand into a Huge Hole

The deliveries also demonstrated the huge need for more similar plantings (e.g., cassava, yams), seeds and fruit trees saplings.  Our local Executive Director Mondy Pamphile said that they felt like they were “pouring a wheel barrow of sand into a giant hole.”   The need is enormous, and the consequences of inaction are disease and famine.

Your donations have enabled our local partners to hire an experienced agronomist and entrepreneur, Wisly Jasmin, to manage the agricultural recovery efforts.  He was a student of Zanmi Sasye President Gerry Keenan in an entrepreneurship program in Haiti’s capital about 7 years ago.  In addition to assisting local farmers, he will be helping to organize three commercial orchards for fruit trees, which will help re-establish and agricultural business economy in the Sassier area

Moving Forward to Recovery 

We will be working cooperatively with Trees That Feed and others to re-establish agriculture and animals over the next severl months. Trees that Feed is donating 6000 fruit tree saplings; transportation from Port au Prince is being arranged. They are also helping us sourced cassava, yams, seeds, and animals (goats, chickens, etc.). We and our local partners are providing all the logistics, distribution and coordination for these efforts.

One of the older ladies in Sassier begged me last week, “Please don’t forget us.”  We need you to help us keep my promise not to forget.  You can make a contribution today by donating to our Haiti Relief Fund below.