To participate in a konbit is to help your neighbor. In rural Haiti, when a farmer needs help to prepare his or her garden, they call for volunteers and a konbit happens! Members of the community come together to get the job done and, in return, are provided with food and drink. On the hills of Léogane, FOTADEL decided to try a post-hurricane version of a konbit by calling for people to work together on each other’s farms in exchange for a small amount of money.
In adopting and modifying the cultural practice of konbit for a post-hurricane landscape, FOTADEL creatively used a great Haitian resource — its people — to support those in need of help rebuilding their food supplies, while equipping the helpers to be able to take care of their own needs for food and provisions. Participants best knew their families’ needs and so were able to meet them, while also supporting the recovery of the entire community through replanting and the injection of money into the local economies.
With a selection criterion that prioritized the most vulnerable, the “cash for konbit” program has far exceeded its initial goal of helping 350 farms. 1,750 people “came out for konbit” and reestablished far more than the target of 200 hectares (almost 500 acres).
World Renew + Konbit = Recovery
Lucia Robesca is a member of United Church of the Christians, a small place of worship located in the community of Corail on the hills of Léogâne. Lucia and her husband Jean Diris Desire and their two children, July and Djossaida, live in an area where Hurricane Matthew toppled trees, sheared roofs off houses, and destroyed entire farms. They, like most of their neighbors, lost all their crops and were unsure what they would eat or how they would start over in the next season.
But in the wake of the disaster, Lucia received 6 kg of black beans and 3 kg of corn from a rural transformation project implemented in 16 communities by World Renew and FOTADEL. During our last visit, Lucia reported that these seeds produced more nutritious and more prolific crops than the seeds she used to plant. She says she has been able to feed her family and, with income earned by selling what she didn’t need and from participating in local “cash for konbit” programs, she has been able to send her children to school. Lucia now considers herself to be fully recovered from Hurricane Matthew. She credits the project with this success but this is also the type of unflagging resilience typical of a Haitian community after a disaster. We use the word “konbit” to describe this solidarity and collective effort. The community of Corail, like many villages in the south of Haiti, is too remote for rebuilding efforts, but with their “konbit” and World Renew and FOTADEL’s support, they are feeling secure and ready for the next harvest season.
Hurricane unable to bring people down
World Renew’s support of those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has borne good fruit. The four farmers pictured here are from the community of Bouda Chita and were some of the recipients of support from World Renew Haiti and FOTADEL. Each received 6 kg of dried black beans and 3 kg of corn from which they were each able to harvest 150 kg of black beans and 15 kg of corn. With this harvest, they were able to feed their families, sell extra for income, share with others, and collectively save 30 kg for their next planting season. Good fruit!
Marie Veline Alexandre is one of these farmers. A 44-year-old mother of three, Marie lost her husband a few years prior to the hurricane. She says it has been difficult for her to pay her children’s tuition since her husband’s death and is thrilled that, with the extra income from selling beans and corn, she has been able to pay that bill this year.
Marie is also very enthusiastic about the next planting season because she knows that she will not have to borrow money to buy seeds. Marie says “May God Bless FOTADEL and World Renew for this initiative!”
Hurricane Matthew seemed unable to bring these people down. Rather, the disaster seems to have increased their commitment to community transformation. Marie has become more engaged in her community, saying “I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less can have access to help like I did.”
Pray for a time of refreshment as I visit family in the USA this month; and then as I tour and connect with churches and partners throughout Canada and USA for the remainder of March and April. I look forward to meeting some of the wonderful people who help make our work possible! Some dates are still open, please contact Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a visit.
World Renew Haiti