LOVE NOTES #1, Jan 2017: Haiti Rises

Dear Community,
 
Happy New Year! We pray that you are staying connected to your heart and rooted in the strength of our movement, even as the forces of destruction are emboldened. We are just back from powerful healing and solidarity work with the farming community of Komye, Haiti and hope you enjoy this image-rich report back.
 
We also want to let you know that sign-up are OPEN for 2017 Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion. This year we have three mixed level sessions and one session for experienced growers and alumni. Registration is also open for our Youth Food Justice Empowerment Program and for our monthly Community Farm Days. You can check out our 2017 calendar for more details. Sign ups for other programs will be rolling out in the next couple of months. 
 
We are looking to add one more person to our 2017 summer squad and are in the hiring process for a Farm and Food Justice Educator. Please consider applying. 
 
We’re so excited to continue to build with you, strengthen our skills and resolve as land-based activists, and make our ancestors proud.
 
In love and struggle,
 
Leah and crew
 
 
Between Dec 23 and January 3, Ayiti Resurrect united the hearts and hands of hundreds of people from Haiti and the African Diaspora to support community resilience in Komye in the aftermath Hurricane Matthew. This was our 7th delegation dedicated to transforming trauma through collective healing through initiatives focused on arts, education, health, agriculture, the environment, and women’s self-determination. Check out the photos and report back below, for a window into the journey that changed us all!
We worked with our Komye family to offer freedom school workshops, activities for children, and a 2-day health clinic. 
 
A devoted team of 3 nurses and 2 traditional medicine practitioners offered free healing services to community members, from emergency care to massage…
 
…and over 60 people got acupuncture treatments!
 
 
Simultaneously hundreds of community members turned out to learn with and from one another.
 
Workshops included stone bone carving, traditional and contemporary games, health and sanitation, 
 
 
…herbal medicine, drum and dance, song, composting, home gardening, soil conservation….
 
…meditation, movement, yoga, partner acrobatics,…
 
…soccer and Haitian history.
 
We worked side by side with the families of Madame Antoinette and Madame Anise to repair three homes that were damaged in Hurricane Matthew.
 
 
These homes had severe rot and damage to the fragile wooden frames, tarps for walls, and compromised roofing panels.
 
We shored up the framing with fresh timbers, replaced tarps with tin and plywood, and installed new roofing. 
 
Both homeowners chose pink as their preferred paint color, so we swallowed our aesthetic preferences in deference to their leadership 😉 
 
The homes we repaired were on steep mountain slopes and carrying the plywood and materials uphill in the heat was real! Thankfully, the only on site injury was a small cut on Jalal’s toe, which Madame Anise promptly treated with fresh lime juice.  
 

We sent significant funds down to Komye in advance of the delegation that were used to repair 6 additional homes and distribute hundreds of water filters. We also left behind enough funds to repair 4-6 more homes in the coming weeks, and started a tool library with over $1000 worth of high-capacity battery-powered tools and fasteners most applicable to Komye’s context to support residents in future repairs.

It was beautiful to witness leadership emerge and mature in Komye over the seven years of Ayiti Resurrect. In the early years, community members deferred heavily to the ideas and guidance of those of us in the Diaspora. This time, most of the Komye teams had organized clear proposals for how they wanted to advance healing and sovereignty in their community. Thanks to the outpouring of support from so many of YOU we were able to resource ALL of the groups’ proposals!
 
The women’s empowerment group distributed scholarships to 50 of the most vulnerable children in Komye so they could attend primary school. After the hurricane, many women lost their garden crops, which they relied upon for income to pay school fees. This scholarship relief will carry families over until the next harvest.
 
 
The artist group purchased solar panels to electrify their workshop and increase overall productivity. In an effort to expand markets, some of the artists have acquired a small building on the road to Jacmel which they are retrofitting as a storefront for their finished artwork. The artists explained that economic sovereignty is key to resiliency in the face of unnatural disaster.
 
 
The education group distributed scholarships to 25 young adults in Komye who are attending technical college and university. They also purchased equipment and hired teachers to offer night classes in culinary arts, plumbing, and sewing. The group noted that many talented young adults leave Komye to pursue higher education and their efforts are aimed to retain these bright minds in the rural areas.
 
The health group purchased supplies and hired nurses and a doctor to run a clinic in Komye 2 days per week. Currently, there are no consistent medical services available in Komye and residents suffer from infection, diarrhea, rashes, and many other ailments exacerbated by the hurricane. The clinic integrates traditional herbal medicine with Western medicine, uplifting the value of both modalities of healing. The health group will also be offering weekly classes in traditional plant-based medicine and disease prevention.
 
The agriculture group established the first ever irrigation system in Komye! They purchased a gas-powered pump to draw water from the river and spent several days ditching and trenching the land to develop a canal system to deliver water to over 20 farmers’ plots. For those that can’t be reached by the canal, the pump will be lent out on a rotating basis. The group is promoting a legume intercropping system in these newly irrigated lands to fix nitrogen and repair soils severely eroded by the hurricane.
On the final day of the delegation we curated a culminating celebration of Haitian freedom and entered into powerful ritual space with our chosen family. 
 
A local theater group re-enacted Haitian history from the creation story, through the Haitian Revolution, to present day examples of love and resiliency. 
 
 
We then carried a log that was felled in Hurricane Matthew to the center of the ritual space and braided it with fabric through a dance representing unity called “Trese Ribòn.” 
 
The children wrote their prayers for the future of Haiti onto colorful ribbons.
 
Children and adults danced and sang “Ayibobo!” as we wove their testaments of hope around the log. 
 
As the sun waned, we carried the log to the water well that Ayiti Resurrect installed this past June.
 
 
Houngan Onelieu led a beautiful traditional ceremony to bless the prayers of the children, offerings song, dance, food, and drink to the Spirits. 
 
 
We then planted the log deep into the ground at the center of the veve as complete darkness enveloped the sky. It was a perfect testament to our resiliency – bending but never breaking.
We are moved to tears & laughter by all the forces that came together to make this heart-work possible.
 

those born of the 2010 earthquake who called us together, & all the spirits the walk with and guide us.

 
Our all-star team of builders, farmers, musicians, acro-yogis, healers, nurses, musicians, meditation practitioners, teachers, and athletes who share a deep love and commitment to Haiti!
 
Top Row: Naima Penniman, Emet Vitale-Penniman, Natasha Camille, Jalal Sabur, Natalie Sablon, Leah Penniman, Enroue Halfkenny, Melissa Day, Richardson Loussaint
Bottom: Anais Maviel, Dominique Bouillon, Jean-Jacques Gabriel, Neshima Vitale-Penniman, Jonah Vitale-Wolff
 
Core collective members: Angelique Nixon, Beatrice Anderson, Leah Penniman, & Naima Penniman
 
Our incredible community leaders in Komye!
 
Dimmy Sanon, Danielle Marie Beaurais, Emmanuel Philip Joseph, Yadlie Dubois, Ruth Cajuste, Ben Maxi, Bos Nene, Jocelyn Michael Aristil, Hyacinth Laratte, Jean Marie Etavie, Wislerson Pierre Louis, Jean Moliere, Franz Laratte, Anax, Luckner Pierre Louis, Clermont Lamy, Vixon, Larcol, Yvelia, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Milouse Sanon, Supris Margot, Yveline Gilbert, Guypson Sanon, Monique  Pierre, Jean Janise, Mercilia Lapoint, Simone Lambert, Berlin Latouche, Onelien Yva, Darline, and our community partners Magepa, Green Haiti, Assocation Planteur Mango de Komye Leogane!
 
Thank you to everyone who donated money, medical supplies, seeds, tools, sent prayers, and continues to hold Haiti in a vision of healing and dignity. 
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