I can still taste the mush that is canned green peas. I can still remember being told that “some children don’t have anything to eat and would love to have those peas.” I can still remember thinking “I would LOVE for them to have these peas.” The notion that another child (even thousands) were hungry was too remote to make me want to eat something that I didn’t want.
Now, today….all those 60 years later…I find that we at La Gonave Haiti Partners would do (eat) almost anything to ensure that the children we know and love on the island of La Gonave had something to fill their hungry stomachs. To know that their parents could eat as well, and not forego yet another meal in order to give their children what little they had.
It is seldom that our posts are about such urgent need that what we post runs the risk of seeming manipulative. We feel nothing if not respect for our friends in Haiti and would never think to exploit them to raise money. So, for now you will have to trust that this is an accurate account of a tragic situation that has been coming for over 3 years…when the drought first began.
Some important facts are:
The island is very isolated, mountainous, and depends on agriculture to feed everyone.
Staples are bought in Port au Prince and trucked around to Cayes, the ferry dock, and sent over.
Once on La Gonave the people high in the mountains have to travel long, terrible roads to access it.
The people you meet there are rarely accustomed to more than one good meal a day.
This is all before the drought. Over the last few years the rains have not come in May as before. Last year it was almost July before any measurable rain came. Each year the yield has been less and less. Not as many seeds to put back to use for the next year. Less corn to grind and store for the dry season. Less beans to store and often what has been held back for seeds may have to be eaten. No plant life for the goats to forage. Instead of building a herd people are having to eat or sell what they have to sustain themselves.
It reached a tipping point last week when one of our partners was down. All 10 of our lay leaders reported that their communities were in an extreme hunger situation with no relief in site. It is March and, at best, the rains don’t start until May. They wrote up a formal document asking for emergency food and each one signed it at the bottom. When times are hard enough dignity cannot stand in the way.
The partnership responded with raising the money to get 10 bags of rice, 2 bags of bean and 2 liters of cooking oil to each community. As we began to distribute it the reality was very clear. This was a drop in the bucket. We turned to one of our partners, Reach International, and asked for a container of 22 tons of food that could be shipped immediately. It is now on its way to La Gonave…not funded yet, but with prayers for the money to come in. It will be distributed by our trucks to the neediest people on the island…and, after this is done we will continue to step up our goat program, our agricultural program and our goal of getting community gardens all over the island. But for now, these are our friends and they are hungry.
We take the distribution of food seriously. We have grave concerns about undercutting local markets.
See https://lagonavepartners.org/2015/09/buying-local-the-dilemma/. Emergency situations call for immediate action. Never more than now, at Easter, when we are reminding people that we are not alone and that God responds to our needs.
If you are able, please help us fund this container of food. Any donations on the website with the notation “food” will be applied to this container of relief food. Our work on a sustainable La Gonave will continue, but for now we have to respond to “all the hungry people” and eating our peas is just not good enough.