Revelife editor-in-chief Rebecca just returned from a week-long mission trip to Haiti. This week, she will share with you a taste of what she experienced and learned.
"Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured ar
ound the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more."
-- Stephen Foster, "Hard Times"
Though the Haitian people have made life happen despite the enormous obstacles facing them, they need hope. Poverty, disease and malnourishment are commonplace. Many people lack much more than the bare essentials of life. Homes are made of clay, palms and miscellaneous junk. No scrap of food is wasted, for every meal is precious.
The people of Bohoc are an agricultural people. In fact, much of Haiti relies on its agriculture as its only means for survival. The food they grow is the food that sustains them and the source of what little income they have. But few people know how to farm the land properly, and consequently their harvest consists of meager produce worth very little. Exporting these cash crops is worthless; no one would buy it.
Then there's Pastor Saul.
Educated in the study of agriculture, Saul came back to the town of Bohoc with one purpose: to build and maintain a sustainable, green farm. The people, though, thought he was crazy. "We've farmed these lands for hundreds of years," they said. "If we don't know how to do it, no one does."
So Saul set to the task, first building a water well from an underground spring as the source for water to feed the garden. He constructed an irrigation system and planted peanuts to add nutrients to the soil. Then he planted his crop and, rather than chemicals, he used nutrient-rich ferns growing in the region as fertilizer for the crop. The people still thought he was crazy -- that is, until they saw the size of his produce. It is lush, fertile land, capable of producing a cash crop worth over five-times the investment.
Saul proved it could be done better than they had done it, and he proved it could be done sustainably and chemical free, using resources readily available in the area around him. And as we stood on his land, looking at his crops, it was like looking at tangible hope. Saul doesn't want to keep this knowledge to himself; he wants to build a community garden where he can teach the people of Bohoc how to use what they have to farm better, farm faster and farm more sustainably. He wants to see the people of Bohoc grow a cash crop that can bring an income to the impoverished people, to bring them up out of poverty, to get them over the poverty line. It can be done. Bohoc is a glimmer of hope. The garden is a glimmer of hope.
That's not to say there aren't obstacles. The perfect location for this garden -- one that has been pursued -- rests within the fences of an abandoned missionary complex. Empty for 15 years, it was once a place where the local people could be taught trades and educated, medicated and even fed. The only building currently in use is a medical clinic and a couple offices. Despite attempts, the organization who owns the land refuses to sell it back to the community of Bohoc. There seems to be no reason for this, but nevertheless, this prime real-estate in the middle of Bohoc remains empty and useless.
Someday the garden will grow and the people will learn these skills. I look forward to going back to begin the process of building, growing and teaching. I have a heart for Haiti, a heart that beats to see these people made whole, a heart that beats to see the children fed and educated, the adults sheltered and taken care of into their old age. There is hope for Haiti. I can see it in the eyes of every person on the street -- every child at play, every mother in the field, every father laboring daily. There is hope for Haiti, and I will go back to them and serve them and love them and, in some small way, spread the hope around.Have you ever considered going to Haiti? What are some of the things that keep you from going to serve the people of a third-world country? What do you have to offer the people?