A PERMACULTURE – EXPERIENCE IN BAYONNAIS, HAITI
After one month of training in Permaculture, one term remains in the mouth and mind of everyone: “Permaculture - BONBAGAY!” These two words are meaningful not only for students and teachers but also for the people living in the community, especially those who took part in the experiences we presented on the compound. Each person who watched and observed said: BON BAGAY! They mean this is good, profitable, useful, and insightful. It is all about durable development.
Permaculture is an effort to discover what God has created and entrust to us. We are looking at them all and trying to see how, in harmony with nature, we can create better wealth, life, and welfare for our people. These efforts are in complete accordance with the desire of the Jesus for mankind. Permaculture is all about abundant life for the people. (John 10:10) The four weeks of training included farmers, school teachers, and students from Institute Henri Christophe. It was a time to share experiences in agriculture and durable development in general. We had opportunities to learn about better ways to exploit the soil in order to produce more food – healthier food for the people.
Four months before, Sara Kirkpatrick, a USA agriculturalist expert visited with us. She conducted a study on 4 of our fields. Here are the conclusions: “Fertility issues, if addressed, would definitely raise production”. Sara’s approach is not to ignore what we have available here, but rather to build on what is good and work on the areas of weakness. The soil is good – it is organic. She wrote: “Since the soil is considered organic, I would prefer to keep it that way and not introduce any chemicals or pesticides if we don’t absolutely have to.”
The Permaculture Training is the follow-up of cooperation between ICDM and some Brazilian friends. “Nothing comes late, and nobody is late.” I have heard this sentence from Pastor Yvan. He repeats it and repeats again and again. Things are putting together in times and on time. How this people can be considered poor with all these potentials? The sun, the soil, and the water can create wealth for the people. If the people want to work and can work, if the soil is good and can be valuated, if agriculture is crucial for the feeding of the people, if it can help us to keep families together, and if it can be the tool to fight poverty and the systematic migration, why not to put it first on the list of our priorities? All these conclusions have pushed us to address a serious problem. We are working to change the mindset. Permaculture training sessions have permitted us to meet the people and to think with them about possible and sustainable solutions that will help us shake or even destroy the roots of poverty.
When it is question of nurturing themselves and their families, most people are not aware of what is available around them. The food crisis is serious and the problem of severe malnutrition needs to be addressed. However solutions will not come through giving rice and free food only. This solution is temporary, palliative, cosmetic, and non-sustainable. ICDM is working on some temporary solutions, but we are mostly or engaged in and heavily committed to training a new generation of people who will know how to deal with the environment. They will know how to take benefits from everything God has created and the things He has given us to manage as good stewards.
By these efforts we are looking for better solutions through things people have within reach. The main idea is that God created all things. We think life would be better if people knew how to use them. When we open our eyes and our mind we will see what we have around and how we are going to use them for the good of the community. The one month training program showed a panorama of possibilities on how to use the sun to get energy. It is known as the best source of energy in the world. Since Haiti is sunny country, all we need is to know how to use the sun to get the energy we need to make our lives better. Permaculture showed us some beneficial ways to use the sun.
The workshops permitted us to experience the effectiveness of sun energy. We got enough heat and fire from the sun to cook food, heat water and other liquids, and dry fruits and vegetables. We created a mechanical blender. This machine does not need electricity to function. It’s a kind of bicycle-blender. It is a practical tool that will permit the families to increase their diets. It can be used to blend beans, carrots, papaya, mango, etc. It is also good for physical exercise.
Permaculture training exposed our children to scientific experiences. It is the practical aspect of all the teaching they got in books. Elements such as Carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen are not things they can understand just through reading. From the youngest to the oldest participants, there has been an open-minded and hands-on teaching that shaped the spirit and the mind of the children.
Also, teacher’s training took place the same time with Permaculture-experience. The team headed by Mrs. Jill Augustine came and taught them Science this year. Permaculture is considered the practical side of their science teachings. They experienced the cycle of the water, the earth attraction center – measurements, and predictions.
ICDM is encouraging people to live their lives simply and naturally. We value technologies but we also value the simplest forms of living like that of our grand-parents. They used to control the production of their food from the garden to the table. We are already using a mechanical grinder to make our cornmeal. Permaculture shows us how to raise the production and at the same time keep the soil, fruits, vegetables, corn, millet, and rice organic. It encourages long term development, addresses health issues, and offers other possibilities to people to increase their diets, and change their food habits.
My next report will give you details about the Dry-Toilets, Bio-digester, Manure Compost, Bike-Blender, Fruit-Dryer, etc.