The trip to Haiti in early January by Frantz Kenol, myself and Professor Anthony Davis to set up the nursery in Cabaret couldn't take place due to political unrest surrounding events of January 12. On that day, the terms of the 99 members of the Lower House and 10 of the Senate expired. With only 10 senators remaining, Parliament became dysfunctional, and the President began ruling by decree. This has compounded the problems in Haiti where violent demonstrations have become the norm, hampering most activities.
Not to lose the opportunity to move forward with the project, Professor Davis arranged to have two key members in Haiti travel to the Dominican Republic the week of January 12 to be trained on how to proceed. Meanwhile, our team was to clear and fence the property for the nursery. On January 28, I went to Haiti to attend to that. Despite disruptions from demonstrators, the task was accomplished (See project updates).
Unfortunately, Sabine Deristin, the Idaho University graduate with whom we would be working was away for two weeks and we could not meet with her. She has been put in touch with Etzer Depestre, our representative and overseer of the project in Cabaret. According to Dr. Davis, there's a small window to get the nursery up before the May planting season. Hopefully, we will be able to get the nursery up on time.
We made a big saving by doing the fencing work ourselves with hired hands from the community. We bought the material and had it delivered. Instead of relying on the company from which we bought the equipment, we did the work ourselves. A full-fledged operation, we found out, would have cost between $7,000 and $10,000. We got it done for a little over $2,000. The next major task will be clearing and preparing the land for the reforestation pilot project. (The photos are of the work preparing the land for the nursery.)
In the meantime we’ve also been working with the Haitian Student Organizations (HSO) in order to begin our grassroots movement. We’ve met with Lucson Joseph the national president of the HSO, Stervens Pauleus, the Florida Chapter president, as well as with Taisha Gauthier the FIU (Florida international University) president. The great news is that they are excited to work with us and to support our cause in every way possible.
The general plan will be to mobilize Haitian Students to promote A Dollar A Tree For Haiti and the reforestation of Haiti. They will discuss, raise awareness and funds, recruit, and participate in our project. Their efforts will extend beyond the Haitian community and include others. This will be a grassroots movement using social media as a main catalyst. The ultimate goal will be to make A Dollar A Tree for Haiti a household word in America.
The first project we will be working on is a fundraising concert. This concert will have three main goals. The first will be to build awareness. The second, to recruit more volunteers (among non HSO members), and the third will be to raise funds (specifically for the Cabaret project).
A REPORT – 2013
A Dollar A Tree For Haiti, Inc.
Since we officially launched A Dollar a Tree For Haiti in two events – at the National Press Club in Washington, on January 10, and at the Greater Mt. Nebo A.M.E. church in Bowie, MD on January 12 --, we undertook some tree planting activities in collaboration with others in Haiti. After our initial campaign, with the approval of our Board of Directors, we are undertaking a project that will give us control of an operation that will be used as a pilot for other ventures.
Our involvement in tree planting began on May 1st which was Haiti’s official Agriculture and Labor Day. In collaboration with Député (Congressman) André Gustave Louis, of the Kenscoff district, more than 2,000 students were mobilized with their teachers and parents to carry out tree planting activities in five communities in the mountains beyond Kenscoff, some 15 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince. More than 700 small farmers of those communities also joined the movement, especially since the planting was on their land and on public property. In two weeks, more than 20,000 saplings were planted in Kikwa, Carrefour Badio and three communities in Sarthe.
More modestly, two other reforestation projects, one in Thomazeau and the other in Jacmel, were also sponsored by A Dollar A Tree For Haiti, which endeavors to bring resources to local communities unable to finance laudable projects. Thus, with contributions of $6,514.00, the organization successfully accomplished its first objective: Raising awareness about a paramount issue for the survival of Haiti. With tree cover reportedly standing at only two percent, Haiti is approaching total desertification, unless a concerted effort is made for its reforestation.
Our tree-planting activity has not gone unnoticed. On June 6, a month after press coverage of our activities, the presidents of Haiti and of the Dominican Republic met at the border town of Ouanaminthe to symbolically plant two trees, and to declare a joint bi-national reforestation of the whole island shared by the two countries. Obviously, Haiti has much more to gain if the project goes from publicity to realization. With tree cover of about 30%, Dominican Republic could be a great asset to its neighbor by providing seeds and saplings of tree varieties common to the land.
From the start, the bi-national reforestation program has been plagued with problems. On Haiti’s part, the State budget doesn’t reflect the commitment of the government to the venture. In the 2013-2014 budget, a repeat of the previous year, only 4% has been allotted to agriculture and 2% to environment. On the other hand, relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti have
greatly deteriorated since a ruling on September 23 by the Constitutional Court, the highest in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans of Haitian ancestry have been stripped of their citizenship, retroactive to 1929. It is widely reported that the ruling affects more than 250,000 Dominicans of Haitian ancestry who have been made stateless. This situation has resulted in a slowdown of all sorts of activities between the two nations whose fate is intertwined by proximity.
From our first foray in Haiti, we have learned that our ultimate success will depend on our control of a project that can be used as a prototype for other ventures. Thus, a property of 30 acres put at the disposal of the organization in the Cabaret district is now our main focus. We are setting up a nursery to produce the saplings that will be used in a pilot reforestation project. “Habitation Bethel”, near Cabaret, is about 25 miles north of Port-au-Prince. Proximity of water, already canalized, makes the location ideal for our experimentation.
The Board of Directors approved expenditures for land survey and commencement of operations after obtaining a notarized document for the use of the land for a period of 15 years, renewable if need be. Thus, we endeavor to make “Habitation Bethel” a showcase for other localities where similar projects will be undertaken.
Meanwhile, on a voluntary basis, Ambassador Raymond Joseph has been making contacts with organizations, speaking in schools and churches, to present the reforestation project and engage people for the long term. Also on a voluntary basis, co-founder Frantz Kenol, in Maryland, has been working on a concept to involve schools in the project. Teaming up with Mr. Kenol, the Ambassador addressed the Bullis School in Potomac on October 4. The students are undertaking fund raising activities for the project. Also, some are excited about the idea of visiting Haiti in the future to participate in tree planting activities. Mr. Kenol is also working with school officials in Maryland and the District of Columbia to raise awareness among students to the problem in Haiti. There is the possibility of introducing the project in the curriculum of some schools. As the project evolves, the school work in Maryland is intended to be replicated in other school districts.
Andre Jean, our consultant and webmaster, also on a voluntary basis, has revamped the website and proposes to make it more active in the coming year. With our 501(c)(3) still pending, we have been tepid in our fund raising activities, especially through the website. We expect this situation to clear up in the near future.
We are grateful to Albert Decady, our legal adviser who, on a voluntary basis, prepared the incorporation papers and did most of the work for our 501(c)(3). Our special thanks to Board member Rev. Dr. Jonathan Weaver, whose church has pledged 10,000 trees for the project. Also, our thanks to the other Board members who have given of their time and connections for the benefit of A Dollar A Tree For Haiti: Dr. Gunny Gabriel, Mrs. Janine Raymond, Mrs. Lola Poisson, Dr. Mark Seymour and Jeffrey Taksey.
Our first year experiment couldn’t have been successful without the financial support of all of you who have contributed from $1.00 to $10,000.00 to A Dollar A Tree For Haiti. In the spirit of Transparency and Accountability, we have acknowledged your contributions on the website.
A Dollar A Tree For Haiti Page 3 2013 Report
Thank you. We continue to count on your interest and support for the greening of Haiti. Visit us on Replanthaiti.org and invite your friends, relatives and acquaintances to get involved in this long term project to reverse the desertification of Haiti.
We are encouraged by the words of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah who summons us not to “despise the time of small beginnings.” And we are inspired by the Greek proverb which states: “A country grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they shall not sit.”