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Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP)
By Mina Remy
June 5th, 2012
In anticipation of World Environment Day today, June 5, 2012, Haiti’s Minister of Environment, Joseph Ronald Toussaint, and the Martelly government proclaimed June Environment Month in Haiti. The theme for this year’s month-long celebration is, “A Green Economy for an Environmentally Viable, Sustainable, and Just Haitian Society.” As part of Environment Month, a member of the ministry’s cabinet indicated that the ministry would like to hold a general State of the Environment Conference with stakeholders on June 7-8, 2012.
Waiting for my visa interview on a dusty embroidered couch at the Afghan Embassy in Cairo, minutes turned into hours. I had recently decided to spend International Women’s Day in the countryside outside of Kabul, to learn from women there as they work towards a better Afghanistan. My mind wandered as I prepared for the journey, and I found myself reflecting on the meaning of a day set aside to celebrate women. Memories drifted through the past few years where I had spent International Women’s Day with Grassroots International’s partners in Palestine and Haiti. Years apart and worlds away, the experiences were bound by song.
Gaza Strip, 2009
From all corners of the world, small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists have been percolating solutions upward to advance their rights to land, water and food. With 2011 behind us, Grassroots International celebrates some of the victories and inroads that took place last year, all with funding from Grassroots International and our supporters. Below are just some of the highlights.
Haitians, whether in Haiti or the diaspora, will always remember where they were on January 12, 2010, when tragedy shook us to our core. Devastating images emerged from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake that brought to mind cinematic depictions of the aftermath of a blitzkrieg. I had to constantly remind myself that an earthquake did this, not indiscriminate bombing. In the days that followed my heart wanted a seat on the next airplane to Haiti, but my mind grounded me on a simple fact: I had no medical training and my presence could not give the kind of help that was immediately needed. But I wanted to do something…
By Salena Tramel
October 13th, 2011
Away from the televised and broken streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti hosts some scenic worlds. Down south, there are remnants of cloud forests that fade into blue skies, and in the north cacti twist out of rust desert soil. The eye takes in lime green rice fields in the central valleys that give way to steep rings of mountains. Most of the people who live there are counting on humble rural livelihoods. They find an enormous source of dignity in their peasant identities. Little by little, their work breathes life back into a country that they vow to make self-sustaining once more.
Make no mistake: Haiti needs seeds and food. Following last January’s devastating earthquake, it’s been all hands on deck in the small island nation—but decision-making on rebuilding is very often in all hands but Haitian hands.
Since long before the earthquake, Haiti has been known as the Republic of NGOs and is bound by more free trade agreements than any other country in the hemisphere. And this kind of outside intervention has failed Haiti time and again—especially since last year’s unprecedented disaster.
Sheer numbers never convey the magnitude of a disaster because they leave out the human stories. News reports offer constant access to images and analysis, but the suffering can just seem too distant at times. And then there are those other times when it hits personally, all in one dreaded moment.
For me, that moment came when I got word that Flo McGarrell, a friend and fellow student of Haitian Creole died in last year’s earthquake when a hotel collapsed on him in Jacmel. As survivors began a weeklong search for Flo’s body, everything about what was going on in Haiti felt painfully close to home—even from half a world away (I was in Jerusalem at the time). Each story became Flo’s story.
The United Nations designates December 10 as International Human Rights Day. At Grassroots International, we give special recognition to the efforts of our partners and allies around the world—but for them, it’s just another day in the trenches to realize these rights as communities in action.
From the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and Asia, our partners engage in determined struggles for resource rights—the human rights to land, water, and food. Despite enormous obstacles like land grabs, poisoned water, and decreased access to local food, our partners build local solutions to solve problems from the bottom up.
Haitian peasant leader, Chavannes Jean Baptiste, put it best: “Haiti is going from disaster to disaster.” He was talking about debilitating disease among displaced people in squalid living conditions, tropical storms destroying agricultural land, and international aid programs undermining local organizing.