A year and a half ago some families at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Newnan, Georgia and at First Presbyterian in Athens changed the life trajectory of some Haitian families by giving them the resources to plant their steep land with agro-forests. With that jump start, those families scored. Tree and crop cover are up, erosion is down, and optimism for their kids’ future is growing, all of which has given us the confidence to expand the idea to other communities - four of them in fact. The goals remain the same - help the land produce more, protect it for the future, and build household income using new cropping techniques and equipment to make value-added commodities. Juice from guava fruit, roof rafters from eucalyptus trees, bread from manioc roots, soap from Jatrofa seeds - there are so many plant-based possibilities because Haiti is in the tropics. When farm communities can tap those possibilities, their economy improves. Bethlehem Ministry is helping them do that. Thank you all. JP’s new project called Land and Livelihood Transformation on Steep Land, is a three-year project focused on 500 participants and beneficiaries with economic benefits reaching many more. It is ambitious but on the strength of the St. Paul’s /First Presbyterian trial balloons, we know we can pull it off. One of the lessons I learned watching Pere Bruno build St. Barthélémy from a dream and an empty lot is, stick with it even if you don’t have everything in hand. That has become JP’s marching orders and I invite you to march along. If you do, you can skip the gym and eat a dozen doughnuts, because JP is marching up some mighty steep slopes.
Director, Partner for People and Place