Haiti as victim vs. Haiti as victor: Unique new aid initiative challenges status quo
For Immediate Release
Farmers of the Peasant Movement of Gros-Morne, Haiti, in collaboration with their U.S. partner, the Quixote Center, have developed a unique home-grown program for providing much needed food to thousands of their countrymen, women and children who struggle to survive following the havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew. The new aid program, called Haiti Reborn - Yielding Change, is an extension of the center’s Haiti Reborn program. This unique initiative enables smallholder farmers in the mountain region of Gros-Morne to use international aid funds to buy seeds for crops and when harvested, transport them to areas in southern and north-western Haiti that were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. The crops are then purchased from the farmers by Peasant Movement aid workers and distributed to those in need.
Unlike past and most current aid systems, which aim to alleviate the short-term needs of hungry Haitians, Haiti Reborn - Yielding Change will not only raise wages for farmers, but also meet disaster relief needs with locally-sourced food. Its goal is both to feed those in need and strengthen the Haitian farm economy, historically the country’s economic backbone.
“The Quixote Center has worked for more than 20 years with community members and smallholder farmer organizations in Haiti to restore and preserve the environment, reforest the country, and provide support and training for smallholder farmers,” said Andrew Hochhalter, executive director of the Maryland-based Quixote Center. “We are committed to working with the Haitian people over the long haul and will support the Haiti Reborn -Yielding Change initiative long after international relief efforts subside and the risk of famine intensifies.”
“Haiti Reborn - Yielding Change is the kind of program that my country needs now more than ever,” said Guy Marie Garcon, the movement’s lead agronomist. “It allows farmers to bring their harvests to town each week knowing that we will buy their crops to use as aid to those left without food and crops by the storm.” The Quixote Center estimates initial costs for the program will be $20,000.
Hochhalter said that a key to the success of Haiti Reborn throughout the years is having a trusted and vibrant in-country partner such as the Peasant Movement of Gros-Morne, an association of 10,000 farming families in the mountainous Artibonite region.