DAY 4: WATER THAT FLOWS FREELY
The landscape in this region was different. The hills in Haiti are normally denuded of greenery from deforestation. But trees and shrubs encroached the area surrounding the Peasants Association of Mapou Rollin, filling in what was once a brown landscape. As we walked up the canal, we learned that this nascent reforestation effort was just one of the by-products of the irrigation canal project. Before the canal was built, the communities surrounding the canal fought over water, a rare commodity necessary for farming and survival. Now with the community canal, they were able to share it peacefully, taking turns directing the flow of water for each others crops and animals, confident in the success of their project's ability to deliver a source of water each day."
The canal has given me much more than reliable water to grow high-yield crops. It has given me extra money for my son's school books in Port au Prince," stated Jean, one of the project's committee members. "This project has taught us how to protect our fields and the surrounding mountains so that we have cleaner water and less erosion in the future. We are reinvesting some of these profits from the sale of our crops into reforestation."
Jean also explained the difference between the Lambi Fund and other organizations that they had worked with in the past. "We had been trying to find help to build a canal for almost five years. Other development groups didn't want to help us. They said it was impossible. They wanted to give us money for other projects that we didn't need," he told us. "When we spoke to Tidjo, one of Lambi Fund's regional monitors who lives and works in the field with multiple organizations, he said that the Lambi Fund could help us if we were willing to put in much of the work ourselves. They brought expert engineers to teach us where to build, and how to make the canal work. We built it with our own hands, with Tidjo visiting each month to make sure it was going well. We all contributed labor to this canal. It is ours. If we can build this canal, we know we can do anything together."
I was impressed with Jean's vision as he explained the importance of this project. The water from the canal was not just for growing crops. It was the impetus for community organizing and democratic survival. It helped water flow freely beyond the fields, creating reforested hills and hope for a new generation. It was clearly the flow of water that would help nourish Haiti's future.
"The canal has given me much more than reliable water to grow high- yield crops. It has given me extra money for my son's school books in port au prince...this project has taught us how to protect our fields and the surrounding mountains so that we have cleaner water and less erosion in the future. We are reinvesting some of these profits from the sale of our crops into reforestation."