Haiti Anecdotes and Admiration

Written by Plant With Purpose on March 23, 2010 in General

by Aly Lewis

Jean Marie Jeanlys is a Plant With Purpose member in the community of Haute Terre Froide. His household of 8 expanded to include four more relatives—all too young to contribute to household income—who were displaced during the quake. As a part of Plant With Purpose’s Short-term Employment project, Jean was paid to construct soil erosion barriers. The barriers conserve soil and protect farmers’ crops in Jean’s community, giving Jean a meaningful way to earn income and support his family. “The project helps. Any little income helps,” said Jean.

I know I’m biased, but I would just like to share with you why I think Plant With Purpose’s response to the earthquake in Haiti-from food distribution and road clearing to seed and tool distribution to our short-term employment and soil conservation project—is absolutely awesome:

  • We’re already here. We’ve partnered with Haitian farmers to overcome poverty for the past 12 years.
  • 99% of Haiti relief aid is going to Port-au-Prince, but thousands of people have fled the devastated city and returned to the rural areas—where we work. The revitalization of rural agriculture will play a critical role in establishing food security and contributing to the future health and prosperity of Haiti.

  • Our Short-Term Employment project provides farmers with much needed cash without resorting to handouts. Farmers can earn money to support their families while engaging in productive, restorative work that will have lasting benefits for the land, their families, and their communities.
  • The project allows us to expand our reach. We’re working with new communities, reforesting new microwatersheds, and encouraging new families to implement sustainable, income-generating projects.

  • We’re stimulating the Haitian economy by purchasing local seeds from Haitian distributors for our Seed and Tool Distribution Project. Similarly, all of the rice and cooking oil purchased for our Food Distribution Project was bought from local Haitian venders, supporting not undermining the fragile Haitian economy.
  • In our Seed and Tool Distribution project, seeds are being provided on a partial credit basis with a 20% repayment rate in-kind. We’ve found that requiring farmers to pay back a portion of the seed they were given with the seed they produce encourages a stronger sense of ownership of the project as well as increased community participation. It also equips Plant With Purpose with a bean supply that can be distributed in future emergencies.

And this is all in conjunction with Plant With Purpose’s ongoing work of teaching sustainable agriculture, granting access to credit, and empowering communities to take ownership of their problems and work collectively to implement creative solutions. Sounds pretty awesome to me. (Maybe I should have titled this post Haiti Testimonies and Horn Tooting)


Aly Lewis is Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. She researches funding opportunities, writes proposals, and submits progress reports on funding received. She also writes the content for Plant With Purpose’s Sponsor A Village program.

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