Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Passing on the Gift: Haiti Day 2- Sept. 6, 2011

Madame Marie Therese in La Tremblay, Haiti, discusses her participation in the PAUA Agriculture project with UMCOR's director of marketing and communications J. Rollins.  Photo: J. Rollins/UMCOR

The day began with a rooster crowing outside my window at 5 a.m., beating my alarm clock by half-an-hour.

Everyone gathered in the common area of the Methodist Guest House on the Frere campus for a delicious breakfast (the hospitality is incredible) and then set out for three site visits: a recipient from the Emergency Agriculture program Projet d’Assistance Urgente d’Agriculture (PAUA) at La Tremblay; a trip through Camp Corail, a resettlement camp; and the construction site of a school at Leveque.

It was overwhelming to see the estimated 100,000 temporary and transitional homes at Camp Corail, encouraging to see the progress of construction at the Laveque school, and heartwarming to meet Madame Marie Therese at the PAUA site at La Tremblay.

M. Therese was a recipient of goats as part of the agricultural project, which reached out to 1,600 most vulnerable families in all of Haiti. The project focuses on livestock and grain distribution in six of the most difficult places to access in Haiti. M. Therese and her husband chose to raise goats instead of growing crops due to the difficult access to water. They use the milk from the goats, and also breed them to sustain themselves and others in their village.

M. Therese said that without this program, she is not sure how she and her husband would have survived. Neither could work after the earthquake, and they struggled to meet day-to-day needs.

Today, when she saw Collins Zamar, PAUA project coordinator, approaching her home with our group, she came out and greeted us with a large smile. She explained that she was not feeling well, but she did not want to pass up the opportunity to tell us how the program had changed their lives. She said she was looking forward to the day when she would “pass on the gift” to another family in need.

A component of PAUA is that recipients of livestock and grain are required to give a percentage of seed harvested or livestock produced to others in their community—thus keeping the program going and changing the lives of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

I thought of M. Therese for the rest of the day and felt lucky to share in her joy. My sentiment was best described in our liturgy that started this day:

For men, women, and children in communities adversely affected by natural disasters;
For friends, and well wishers who are actively involved in Haiti’s ongoing development;
For a positive outcome of this roundtable meeting;
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

James Rollins, director of communications for UMCOR

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