Here’s a post by HFF board member Vivian Croft, who visited Jamie and Ali in Haiti a few months ago. You can read more about Vivian’s trip to Haiti here.
Last September, Clercine and her husband Auguste came to Jamie and Ali with a story not unlike so many other parents. The couple felt the had no choice but to put their younger child, daughter Melissa, in an orphanage. Without steady work, raising two children in their small community near Port-au-Prince would be nearly impossible. They felt they were out of options.
I think back to the stories my grandparents told of Depression-era living in the United States. The difficulty in securing the basic necessities, food and water, was so much a struggle that families were often torn apart by disease and hunger. More often though, they were torn apart by lack of money. That was a fear faced in our own country many years ago. It is a way of life for much of Haiti every day.
Knowing how desperately Clercine and Auguste wanted to keep their children, Jamie and Ali vowed to help them find another way – a sustainable way to live and raise two beautiful children. Fortunately, this was not new to them. In their years in Haiti, Jamie and Ali were able to help many families in the same way many times before.
The McMutrie sisters helped Clercine find steady work, a job she still holds today. But that’s not all. While this job helps Clercine and her family afford the very basic necessities, it has not impacted the family the way another small gift has.
During a visit to the family’s rural home, Jamie and Ali brought along a variety of seeds and suggested the family plant them.
Agriculture is a mainstay in Haiti and the land is fertile for many types of fruits and vegetables. Still, purchasing even a few seeds can be costly.
But to the girls, this small gesture of giving away a handful of seeds and teaching the family how to plant and grow them, the reward would not only germinate in the garden, but seeds of sustainability would improve the family’s standard of living, as well.
Today, the family has a large garden with a variety of foods that they are able to eat, share, and sell at the market. They have been successful with foods such as a variety of peppers, onions, spinach, lettuce, peaches, cherries, guava, pumpkin, okra, corn, and barley.
We met the family before church and even in their Sunday best, they proudly gave us a tour of their large plot.
They even have a small pig among the banana trees.
We each tasted a guava right off the tree.
Sharing one small gesture has changed not only the daily life of this family, but has kept them together, learning and sharing. This is what helps Haiti grow. This is what will be the future of sustainable life.
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