With a wink, he said, “When I pick a pumpkin up here, it rolls right down to my house and by the time I get home, my wife has made it into soup.” We laughed, one up on DoorDash.
But behind his Haitian humor, I knew he was scared. He can’t feed his family. This little farm is all he’s got and when it falls short, they suffer until next harvest. We were there to talk to him about improving his situation.
In an explosion of Haitian Creole, Merilus, one of our agronomists, told him, “In the first month this land needs to be terraced and planted with trees, yams and pineapple. In six months the trees will be over your head, the yams will be twining up and you'll have a pineapple hedge. Between terraces you’ll be harvesting sweet potatoes, manioc and vegetables. Six months later you’ll have yams to store for months of food, and pineapples to sell. The following year you’ll have wood poles to sell. What do you think? ”
He’d been nodding his approval but now he looked defeated. He said, “I can’t plant yams, they cost too much, I don’t have money, and I don’t have trees, and making those terraces…”, his voice trailed off and he looked away. I was ashamed, we had just humiliated a proud man.
Fortunately, Merilus jumped in and Haitian to Haitian said to him, “I know... but let me tell you this, there are people who think your farm and your family are important and they want to be your partner on this. The farmer looked at me.
“He’s right”, I said. “You can tell your wife you have a partner, when you’re eating that pumpkin soup she made.” We laughed and our partnership was launched.
That’s how it goes in Haiti, but it starts when people like you say, “ I’ll be a partner to that.”
Partner for People and Place