John McKenzie, a member of the board of Permaculture Australia, has travelled to Haiti with the support of Permafund and AAE (Association of Friends of the Children of La Gonave Island, Haiti, http://www.aaehaiti.org/) . His purpose there is to train people in Permaculture practices and to advise on specific challenges like water, food and erosion.
We’ve received some heart warming news from Haiti where John McKenzie is spending some time offering aid work and permaculture teaching.
His words help depict a incredibly clear picture of how permaculture aid work looks like.
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In the little I've seen since getting here, water supply, food supply, erosion are still going tough. We're collecting 20 gallon/day for the course as the public water seller is 2km away.
Nurse on course reported a child died of cholera on Wednesday night. Hand washing is not well practiced due to water scarcity.
Many Permaculture strategies are applicable to assist here and the course is attracting a lot of positive energies with 50 or so participants every day.
We're supplying food and water so that is an incentive — but we're here long days and attendance is constant… so I'm thinking there's a good interest in what we’re teaching.
The local people want to apply permaculture across the island but getting the wheels turning for implementing it is of course another thing – this is what this trip is all about really.
Principle activities generating interest are:
- contour lines around the hillsides/slopes
- diverting water off the roads,and road maintenance
- establishing fodder cropping and keeping goats tethered or housed
- establishing a pruning regime for charcoal cutters, take branches only and not the whole tree
- community gardens.
It's rained a couple of times — hopefully soon they'll be wanting to get out gardening! It will be interesting to see what happens — there’s been a significant culture shift in the past 15-20 years and men have transitioned to ‘urban expectations’ and may not be as inclined to be food gardeners.
This pattern we know too well… as The West has done.
In contrast it's amazing to see the community activity over Easter. I'm not sure if this is a Christian activity, perhaps it's more their local alternative — a mini mardi gras, for the past three days groups have been parading around town; drums, trumpets, dancing... going for hours... it's a great signal of celebration and community well being in midst of my seeing their world with problem focused considering of water, food, finances etc.
Words by John McKenzie — edited by Alexia Martinez & Boyd Attewell.[/message_box]