Going Up The Mountain In Dezam!
June 5 is World Environment Day, and every year the MCC program in Dezam, Haiti mobilizes hundreds of people in the community to celebrate in the most fitting way I can imagine...
We traveled to Dezam for the event, along with three of our Port-au-Prince co-workers, and we hope this short narrative, along with the photos attached with paint a picture of our day!
At 6am, a crowd met at the MCC Haiti Dezam office for a sip of water, energizing music, and words of instruction for the full morning ahead. Shortly afterwards, we set off, all 300 of us! The whole crowd, in two single file lines, marching up the dirt road that leads to the base of a chain of mountains. And what do we do next? We CLIMB. High, high up, steep paths, we made our way to the top of a bleak mountain, one that - like most mountains in Haiti - has been stripped bare over the centuries, leading to so much erosion and environmental degradation that plagues Haitians' livelihoods.
What was our mission, once we reached the top of this mountain? Why, to plant trees of course! Together, we planted 5,000 little saplings. It was a blast; I was so thoroughly exhausted and sweaty, but the event was fantastic.
As we climbed the mountain, we could see the seedlings of years' past, growing into strong young trees. After the long morning hike, we enjoyed a 3-hour program at another small village outside of Dezam, where participants shared an amazing meal and learned more about caring for the environment in skits, dance and song. We wrote before about the meaning of konbit. This was our first true konbit experience!
We'll let the pictures speak for themselves now. Enjoy the show!
This tap-tap carried the speakers that kept people energized as we marched towards the foot of the mountain
I can't tell you how good this water felt after our descent from the mountain!
A pause on top of the mountain, as the planting finishes up
One of thousands
Our MCC shirts have this Kreyòl proverb on back:
Many hands makes the load light.
This was definitely shown to be true today!
The program afterwards: a little girl looks on
Some information about Haiti's environment:
Haiti, before its soil was touched by Europeans, used to be almost entirely forested. Today, for a variety of factors from colonialism to peasants'continued practice of chopping down trees for charcoal, is now less than 3 percent forested.
MCC Haiti's reforestation work, which is centered near Dezam in Haiti's Artibonite Valley, has been working for over 30 years to find creative, sustainable solutions to Haiti's continued environmental degradation.
MCC Haiti has twelve national staff in Dezam who run a variety of reforestation programs. An activity like the one we participated in last Friday is just one of many projects, which includes 22 community-run tree nurseries that produce over 500,000 trees per year.
Though our work is based in Port-au-Prince, it's always a pleasure to check out MCC's work in the Artibonite Valley. To read a story that gives you a sample of MCC Haiti's reforestation work, go here.
This was re-posted from Katharine & Ted's personal blog, Stories to Tell.
Katharine is from San Diego, California and has served with MCC Haiti since July 2014 as Advocacy Coordinator and Policy Analyst. She studied History and Religious Studies at University of California Davis, then International Development at Eastern University. You can follow her Instagram on life in Haiti @katharineoswald, Haiti advocacy news on Facebook, and her personal blog, Stories to Tell.