This post is beautifully written by Amanda Kuehl, who is working alongside us in Haiti for 3 months with her husband & son (Darryl & Kodiak). Photo credit belongs to Amanda as well.
Driving out of Port Au Prince and into Aquin plays like a romantic movie out of the car window. There is the excitement, the whirlwind, the initial sweeping off your feet and into the arms of the city. There is so much to see, so much to look at, the morning bustling with each marshan elegantly moving down the road with her basket balanced atop her head, waltzing with the traffic of tap-taps full of folks on their way to work and school children in their pristine school uniforms. It is busy, energizing and motivating, much like new love.
As the movie plays out the initial enrapturement begins to morph from something a little less invigorating into a gentle sweetness, a little more familiar. The sights start to become more recognizable and predictable, comforting in a way. It is no less beautiful, but becomes a peaceful love as those who have been in love for some time rest together with no pressure to speak; in the same way you can rest, smiling at the goat grazing next to the pig in a pile of unidentifiable discard.
Finally you reach the outer country communities, the villages each marked by playful stripes on the trees that line the road. The love now is renewed, it is reinvigorated in an entirely new way that is unlike the initial exhilaration. I imagine as a couple who has been together forever committed to one another is always falling in love again, this is how they feel. It is fresh love that washes over the sleepy comfort of being together. The farming village of Aquin is refreshing, new and old at the same time.
Out of the window there is now a sea of sugarcane plants bordered by coconut trees sprinkled with yellow and green fruit. There are hills in the background and glimpses of the Caribbean sea. This is the Haiti we don’t hear about, the Haiti that does not have a voice or presence in most media and news reports. It is truly beautiful, peaceful, resting and tropical. There are farmers and children going about their morning and though they are desperately poor they smile and there is a sense of peace.
Here in Aquin is where Harvest107 has built relationship with 8 farmers in the community. They grow a variety of crops; currently corn, black beans, tomatoes and always plenty of mango trees. Unfortunately, the recent hurricane Matthew ripped through these humble communities and devastated many of their fields and wiped out most of their trees. When your entire livelihood is wrapped up in your farm you can imagine how devastating this would be. Overnight what little food security that was present is wiped away. Many of these farmers are supporting not only themselves but their children, their sisters, their nieces and nephews. One drop that upsets the system causes a ripple that affects each of these individuals.
By the grace of God a generous donation of 400 trees was made to Harvest107 in order to bless these farmers and their families. A variety of fruit and moringa trees are now in the hands of farmers who will love and steward them well in order to provide for themselves and their families. The gratitude of each farmer as they unloaded their trees was apparent on their faces, the pride in which they take their trade beaming through their stature.
During our time in Aquin we were escorted through the fields of the farmers, winding along the paths through cacti lined fences, surrounded by coconut palms and the song of tropical birds filling our ears, the humidity clinging to our skin. We visited each plot, recently replanted after the hurricane and admired the sprouts of beans, young tomato plants and the rich soil. As we stood in the humble shade of a small moringa tree I had a chance to listen to one of the farmers, Jean Claude, after taking his photo in front of his field. He shared about his daughter and his time in Miami. He’s been farming in Aquin for 11 years and although he spoke fondly of his time in Miami, when I asked if he enjoyed farming here his entire energy lifted, a smile spread on his face, his eyes glistened and he responded, “yes, I like it.”
These farms mean so much to the ones who tend them. The farm means dinner on the table tonight, it means school for their sons and daughters (and in some cases brothers and sisters), it means some kind of income for the week and possibly most important it means purpose and pride and dignity for each of these farmers.