Today’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative update comes from Haitian partner Fabienne Jean and FONDAMA. We first learned about FONDAMA when Fabienne spoke to a local network here in Asheville, North Carolina (USA) as part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s stateside planning efforts — a rare and welcomed opportunity to meet a partner! Since then, Seed Programs International Program Manager Naima Dido and FONDAMA coordinator Fabienne have been identifying ways that FONDAMA and our partners in the SPI Haiti Partnership Network can work together.
FONDAMA and their member organizations work toward food sovereignty by addressing the root causes of poverty in Haiti, including the promotion of cooperative agriculture, access to land and clean water, and education. Fabienne Jean coordinates FONDAMA’s grassroots network of farmer organizations throughout Haiti and advocates for their communities. FONDAMA is not only led by a powerful woman — their programs prioritize access to resources for women who have children, and for the poorest farmers who have lost everything to natural disasters that are increasingly amplified by climate change. By prioritizing access for women, they are putting power back in the hands of mothers to improve their child’s and family’s nutrition.
FONDAMA’s vision is large and long-term, intended to build a strong foundation for future generations. This is not easy work. They must adapt to the on-the-ground challenges that emerge in the wake of each disaster. Damaged infrastructure, worsened by recurring storms, means that partners can’t rely on traditional supply channels. FONDAMA and other SPI partners must innovate to accomplish some of the most basic agricultural tasks, like finding protected spaces to sow seeds and grow seedlings.
Fabienne says, “Right now, we have a lot of problems with the effects of climate change. We can have a lot of rain or a long drought season. Also, the reconstruction of roads and other infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Matthew [in 2016] has been slow and is ongoing.
“Since the hurricane, FONDAMA has put tremendous effort into training communities to change their old farming practices so they can be more resilient at the time of floods and other natural disasters. The seeds from SPI were very helpful. A partnership like SPI is very important to us because the lack of access to good seed is the biggest reason people do not grow vegetables here. When the seed is not good, people work so hard in the gardens and farms and get nothing but failure for their hard work. This kills the morale.
“The seeds grew in some areas where people were already familiar with growing vegetables, but not in all places that we gave them because of poor soil health, lack of water access, and other challenges. In response to the garden failures, we started a yard garden program that is designed to withstand flooding and wind.
“We trained the communities to turn tires inside out, put soil and compost in it, and grow their vegetable garden in the tires, which contain the soil securely against erosion. Tires are one solution, but we are also working on raised bed systems to plant seedlings that will not be washed away by flooding. We will use future seeds received from SPI to grow the seedlings.”
Working collectively, FONDAMA’s programs adapt to address people’s needs from the ground up. Not only do they identify what is needed for success, but they also assess what hasn’t worked and create solutions that are appropriate to a community’s specific context. FONDAMA is a Haitian Creole acronym fashioned from Fondasyon Men Lan Men Ayiti, which is translated to Hand-in-Hand Haiti Foundation. This is appropriate since they are on the ground, hand-in-hand with the farmers and families in their communities.
Thanks to your support of Sweet Blossom Gifts and the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, Fabienne has SPI seed for FONDAMA’s communities. We’re grateful for your support, and for the support of Sweet Blossom Gifts!
Sweet Blossom Gifts & The SPI Team
Women’s Empowerment Initiative: Prescribing Vegetables in Haiti
We’re excited to tell you about a new Seed Programs International partner in Haiti who is taking a different approach to improving the quality of life for Haitians in rural areas. Vision for Haiti is a US-based nonprofit organization that has been responding to emergencies and ongoing need in Haiti since 2010. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Beatrice Marseille, a nurse practitioner who founded Vision for Haiti and developed an innovative approach to community health.
Women’s Empowerment Initiative: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
Back in February, we shared an update from GrowEastAfrica, one of Seed Program International’s lead partners in Ethiopia whose programs serve several women’s agricultural groups. Positioned at something of a crossroads for Kenyan – Ethiopian IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), GrowEastAfrica is constantly adapting their program to accommodate the shifting political climate and resulting change in their communities. SPI recently had the privilege of catching up with co-founder Yohannes Chonde about what’s happened since the spring.
The Liberia Agricultural Academy: Teaming Up with Women and Children
Last May and June, we shared a few stories from REAP, a member of SPI’s Liberia Partnership Network. REAP offers agricultural skills training, education, and other support services to women and children who seek to establish sustainable and resilient livelihoods.
Women’s Empowerment Initiative- On the Road in Guatemala with Pop Atz’iaqNaima Dido, SPI’s Program Director is on the road this month with Nancee Neel in the mountains of Guatemala, where they’re working to grow a deeper partnership with a local group, Pop Atz’iaq. Established in the 1990s, Pop Atz’iaq has focused on craft-based livelihood development with women and men in the region around San Cristobal in Guatemala.
About one year ago, we told you about a pilot program with SPI partner GrowEastAfrica (then DBCO) to establish community vegetable gardens in Billa village and Soyama town in Ethiopia’s Burji region.
East Africa Update. Last month, we told you about Mary and Esther — how access to good vegetable seed and agricultural support from SPI’s partner, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK), changed how they sustain their livelihoods.
Empowerment Partners: Seed Savers Network Kenya & Seed Programs International
Partners are critical to Seed Programs International’s work. We could not do what we do without them. We’ve shared stories about one of our East African partners, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK), in earlier posts and we’d like to tell you another story from our partnership.
Honduras: Women Taking the Lead in Community Development
Part 2 of 2, August 2017
In last month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative story, we introduced Seed Programs International partner, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), who is working with local farmer groups in field schools and community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras.
Honduras: Women Taking the Lead in Community Development
This month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative story comes from Honduras, where Seed Programs International partner, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), is working with local farmer groups to lay a foundation for self-sustainability through community-led education and local seed production. Farmers are organized into field schools (ECAs) that train community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras.