The year 2004 in Hayti has been a troublesome one. The uprising against Prezidan Jean Bertrand Aristide brought a new occupation by the UN; two great floods, in May and September, saw thousands of deaths in the countryside and in the city of Gonaives. Violent struggles between supporters of Aristide and the interim government have convulsed the environs of Port au Prince.
Amidst these troubles the mountain town of Kenscoff is trying to continue small steps towards building and rebuilding a life worth living for Haytians. The Fondation Wynne pour l'Environnment and Afe Neg Combite are two organizations making a difference. Fondation Wynne has started a project to plant 24,000 trees in the countryside around Gonaives.
Following the disatrous floods of the rainy season 2004 people started talking about actually doing something about reforestation. The years since the fall of the Duvalier regime have seen not only political chaos, but the ecological destruction accelerated. Increasing population (from misery, it always happens) and decreasing agricultural incomes (from increased food imports and the abandonment of government support for planters) resulted in faster felling of trees in the countryside. Peyizan have nowhere else to get money.
Jane Wynne and friends of hers have recently completed the legal registration of Fondation Wynne pour l'Environnment and their first real project is the preparing of 24,000 pyebwa (trees) for the replanting of the countryside around Gonaives. At least 3,000 people died in a gros inundation there in September. The country just 20 miles east of here saw another few thousand die in May 2004 when Fond Verette was swept away (it is built in a river bottom) and Mapou became a lake for a month.
Avocado, Zaboca, are the first to be planted. Janie put out the word to the children of la montaigne and 15,000 grenn zaboca (avocado seeds) came into the lakou. They were stored under pine needles while planting soil could be mixed up and 12,000 plastic sacks prepared for the seeds to sprout in.
One picture here shows a Mighty Mac chipper machine from way back. Papa Wynne brought it here for the farm in the 1970's. It needs an engine. We are trying to get the MacKissic company (they still exist, yay)to tell us what modern engine and centrifugal clutch to get to put this thing back on line. Someone could make a donation to Fondation Wynne to get the chipper going perhaps?
The second set of pyebwa starts are to be benzolive. This is a leguminous tree that makes many seeds in big pods. It fixes nitrogen like any legume and grows fast. It is hoped that 24,000 baby trees will be ready to plant by April 2005. Finding country farmers who will care enough to take care of them long enough to escape the browsing of cows and goats will be the problem then.
The Afe Neg Combite is an organization in Kenscoff for the development of the countryside. This December saw a march to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Combite. A Combite (or Coumbite, or Konbit) is a traditional peasant collective help formation.
A new country health clinic was being opened on the morne a few kilometers out of town. This whole march, including students, scouts, chevaliers peyizan, boys on bicycles and two types of marching bands, went from the Church, through town and out a country road to where the road ends. Then up the mountain to the new clinic.
Many of the local works of the Combite have funding from overseas but they are locally run by the Combite. The Secretariat is right there on the main street, right next to the Kantin Popule where market women from la morne eat a cheap meal. A pension for the market women to sleep at on market days is part of the complex as well. The Kenscoff cyber cafe is run by the Combite with equipment donated by Canadiennes.