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I was at a place that makes cassava bread, when a woman and a horse with loaded saddlebags walked up. It was ten o’clock and getting hot, others were already at work. She unloaded the manioc her husband had dug yesterday and got busy scraping the bark off the woody roots with the sharpened edge of a spoon. I said hello and asked where she had come from. “Akilsamdi”, she replied.

Amazed, I asked, “When did you leave to get here?”, because I knew that village was on the other side of the mountain.

“Before sunrise,” she replied.

“Wow, you've been on the road for more than four hours!".

She didn’t reply, but the look on her face told me hours don't mean anything. Time for her is measured by what needs to get done, and right now that was getting her tubers ready before the miller called her to grind them into flour. When that's done, she'll spread the wet flour in the sun until it is dry enough for the baker to make her cassava on his hot steel griddles.

When the big flatbreads are done, she’ll fold and bundle them in a neat stack on her horse and head home. They are an important staple for her family. If she hurries she’ll get there by dark. Tomorrow she'll do the same. Poverty is the thief that steals her time.

Maybe when walking, she day-dreams what it would be like if her village had its own place to make cassava. A fanciful thought to pass the time.

Partner For People And Place builds cassava bread-making facilities in remote communities to increase food supply and give people the time they need and crave to improve their lives. Akilsamdi is on our to-do list.

The road to Akilsamdi.

I hope the summer finds you well. As always, take care and thank you for your interest in the work we do in Haiti.

Rob Fisher


Partner for People and Place

She led me straight up the mountain on foot from one little farm to another. When we got to hers, you could see the ocean and feel the wind. Her sons were disassembling a large smoldering dirt pile. They were harvesting the charcoal they’d made and next week

would be selling it. There were only a few trees left and cows tugged at threadbare sod. Not her cows, she could never afford one. They belong to a man in the city, who pays her a little to keep them.

We talked. She told me she loves this land, that it came to her through generations going back to when people like her threw off the slavers and broke up the land into little farms to support themselves, and that this land is her legacy to her children. It begged a question, “Why harm it with charcoal and cows?”

Jabbing her finger at me she replied, "I’m doing the best I can with what I have, where I am right now to keep my family going and I’m not letting up.” And I’m thinking neither is the erosion that is taking her land down to the rock on this dying mountain. I believe she knows that too. It is a tragedy of poverty that by doing what is necessary to care for your family kills the land’s capacity to sustain them.

To keep that from happening we are helping her plant fifteen hundred trees on her land to protect the soil and grow a woodlot she can selectively harvest for income.The cows will be replaced by cashew trees, which will earn more than the pittance she ever got from them, and yams will grow a supply of nutritious food she can count on. By Christmas, her family will begin reaping benefits. And maybe up on that mountain feeling the wind on her face, she’ll feel some peace, knowing the legacy to her children has been reclaimed and the promise of the slave revolution reaffirmed.

Her little farm is on top of this dying mountain. She owns two hectares 500’ above sea level. She and her family live in a village and each day hike to the farm to work. More than eighty percent of Haiti’s farms are in rugged terrain.

On the plane heading home the gift of her words stuck in my head, “I’m doing the best I can with what I have, where I am right now”. And I thought, am I?

Take care and thank you for your interest and concern.

Rob Fisher


Partner for People and Place

Did you know Espérance et Vie owns farmland which provides fresh produce for the school's cafeteria?

In addition to providing a source of nutritious, reliable and economical food for the students, it turns out that the farm is an ideal home for bees! Espérance et Vie is partnering with Villages Apicoles Horizons SA (VIASHA), to begin beekeeping at the farm. VIASHA

is providing training, equipment, and bee colonies to Espérance et Vie. This organization will also help with processing the honey and the bee’s wax, which is used to produce soap and other products. Honey is a traditional staple of the Haitian diet, and honey and the bee’s wax are significant cash crops in Haiti. The synergies of this project are truly buzz worthy: employees learn useful skills, the plants get pollinated and generate food, the bees get the pollen, and Espérance et Vie gets honey to use and sell as a cash crop.

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