Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Port Au Prince, Haiti - February 22, 2010

This is my first night in Port Au Prince, where the devastation for my reason coming occurred. But the longer I am here the more I realize that—earthquake or not—there’s been a desperate need for CTI and other NGOs like us all along. I have been doing most of my work over the past few days in the rural farming areas outside of the devastation where small technologies that save time and valuable crops have always been needed. Now with the influx to the regions of refugees from Port Au Prince they are all the more needed.

I have been working with an NGO that has been on the ground here in Haiti for years and thus knows the issues better than myself, Trees for the Future (www.plant-trees.org). They have connections with small communities through the rural mountain surrounding Port au Prince, that are planting trees in the hopes of restoring some of the soil that has been lost due to deforestation over the last 200 years. Along with planting trees for better soil, come needs to maintain more of the harvest to further pull themselves out of poverty.

I met with over 50 leaders of these communities over the last few days who all shared similar stories; they had walked long distances to pay someone to grind their maize, sorghum, millet or groundnuts and much of their harvest was lost in the process. If they did not have to travel, they would save food, time, and money. All of them expressed both hopes and doubts about me returning. Hope that I would bring the technologies that I said that we had, and doubt because so many NGOs have promised such things in the past.

They all expressed the same concerns about the current influx of aid into Haiti; that while immediate assistance is incredibly important to alleviate pain and suffering, there was no one coming to them to talk about ways to ensure a good harvest in three months. I think that we at CTI are in the right place and the right time. I hope that we can find partners in Haiti and other places to help us continue our work here.

A quick note, while the blog has been sporadic because of internet issues here the tweets have not. They do not offer the same in depth stories as the blog, but a constant reminder about CTI’s work. Please check them often and the CTI website for more.

Sam Usem
CTI Americas Committee Vice Chair

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