Thursday, July 17, 2008

pray for rain

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This afternoon, after visiting a rural community leader who also works as a farmer, I was thinking that I really should ask all of you to join in praying that God’ll bring rain here. The central plateau here—or at least the Pignon area and the Hinche/Maissade area—have not had enough rain this year, and I think that’s actually true for much of Haiti. The corn crop and others are nearly past the point of no return, but from what I hear it might be salvageable if enough rain comes really soon. Or at the very least farmers need enough rain to sustain the next growing season. With the difficult economic times here and crazy high food prices, it’s just another really unneeded challenge when the food people are trying to grow isn’t harvestable.

Well, in very cool fashion, before I had a chance to ask you to pray or even to fully form a prayer myself, a soaking thunderstorm has descended upon us this afternoon (which means the satellite internet service has been blocked out by clouds). I think it’s good rain, though I’m no expert on such things. It seems to be a soaking rain that isn’t a total downpour, though it sounds like a monsoon because it’s being amplified on metal roofs around and over me.

So please do pray that God’ll provide the rain these farmers need and that they’ll still be able to harvest food this year. It seems that a majority of people here plant at least corn and other crops around their homes, even if they’re not planting large fields of crops. So people try to provide for themselves. When you pray, you can thank God for today’s rain too. :-)

Later on Tuesday…

This evening I spent some time talking with Joseph, the Save the Children director here. I learned some interesting things. For one thing, he noted that there’s not a lot of aid money available for agricultural projects right now, for projects like training people in better farming methods, providing better farm equipment and seed, etc. There’s money for health care and education projects but not for agriculture. There’s a lot I don’t know about how things work, but it sure seems that supporting people’s efforts to feed themselves would sure be a smart way to address the world food crisis.

I also learned that there used to be farmers in Haiti, in the Artibonite River valley, growing rice. However, Haiti began importing rice grown in other countries by farmers receiving various economic aids and farmers working with technology that produces more rice at lower cost. The farmers in Haiti had to sell their rice for a higher price than the cost of the rice that was imported, so they were basically driven out of business. How crazy is that? Imported rice is cheaper than local rice? Something seems amiss in all that. (This is exactly the kind of thing author/farmer/poet/advocate-for-local-economy Wendell Berry talks about.) And now that the cost of outside rice has risen there’s no longer enough rice being produced in Haiti to provide an alternative.

There was more to the very interesting conversation, but those are a couple of the highlights that have been added to the files in my head.

Patrick, my Save the Children guide (2nd from left); Kevens, one of the Save the Children drivers/mechanic (orange shirt); Hubert, the community leader for Cinquieme/farmer (2nd from right)

The tree we chatted under on Hubert's farmland, and some of the women and children who gathered to watch as we talked.

Lots of people around Maissade use horses and donkeys for transportation and for hauling things. Many of them have these woven baskets straddling the horse/donkey, and many of the saddles are made out of banana or palm leaves or something like that.

The twilight view of the mountains, from near my guest room door at the Save the Children compound.

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