You have probably heard all of this already from your people in Haiti, but I wanted to tell it to you personally as a “Thank You” for what you have gotten started for the people of Thomassique in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
I think it was 2012 when our mutual friend, Larry, told me about the work you were doing to promote the growth of food-bearing trees. I was organizing a group of high school students to spend a week at St. Joseph Clinic in Thomassique during which time, among other things, they were planning to teach local youth how to plant and nurture food-bearing trees. You generously arranged for us to get a dozen or more small breadfruit trees from your nursery near Port au Prince.
Those trees have done very well and are now yielding produce every year. They are not only providing supplementary nutrition to the workers at St. Joseph Clinic but also serve as a model for others to see. (See photo.)
But that is not the end of the story. You placed me on a mailing list to get notices from your foundation. One of those notices described a workshop that your staff was going to hold in Port au Prince to encourage the planting of breadfruit and moringa trees. (Moringa was one of the other trees the high school group planted at St. Joseph Clinic.) I asked our Global Health Fellows at the Clinic if they could identify an individual from the community who might want to learn more about those trees and become an advocate for them in the Thomassique region (a population of about 125,000). We ended up sending Maxeau to your workshop. He returned to Thomassique very excited about the possibilities that those trees held for the people in the region. He maintained contact with your staff and assembled groups of farmers in at least two outlying villages to get a sense of their interest in growing the two crops. Encouraged by their response, he is developing a business plan to create a local business to plant the trees, refine the produce, and sell the products. I think his business model is benefiting from the experience of the two young Haitian men who conducted the training session.
If successful, Maxeau’s business will be a welcome addition to our efforts to improve nutrition in Thomassique, especially for women and children. It could also contribute to improving the economy of the region in general.
I don’t know how all of this will play out over the next couple of years but I do know that we would not have gotten this far if it had not been for your original contribution and the sustained guidance from your staff in Haiti. Thank you.
Peter J. Dirr, Ph.D.
Member, Board of Directors