– Affecting Change, Building Community –
Seguin, Haiti: Where It All Began
In 2009, CDi began engaging the local community of Seguin, Haiti -- a rural town located at the foothills of Parc La Visite. Seguin. Like many other rural communities in Haiti, Seguin is struggling to meet its current and future socio-economic development needs. Most humanitarian relief and development aid is directed towards the larger metropolitan areas, and as a consequence rural Haiti is falling even farther behind.
The Seguin Plateau is strategically located between the capital Port-au-Prince and the Southern shores of Jacmel. Home to the last remaining natural forest cover at Parc National La Visite and site of an important watershed, the region is also one of the country’s potential breadbaskets.
However, with lack of access to financial and technical assistance, mismanagement of natural resources, inadequate sanitation, health care, infrastructure and education, the area remains not only under-developed but subject to environmental degradation at unprecedented rates rendering the area and the country at large increasingly vulnerable to natural catastrophes such as floods and landslides.
Partnerships and personal relationships with local organizations and community leaders are at the core of CDi’s strategy to sustain programmatic efforts. Extensive demographic research in the Seguin area was completed in July/August 2010, which informs current and future program development and seeks to integrate the community in the design and execution of any intervention. CDi is constantly exploring opportunities for other programs and projects which will combine to assist the community in improving living conditions, increasing access to services and commerce, and restoring environmental health.
Nouvo Tè Farm - our educational organic farm project in Les Cayes needs your help -- please consider making a contribution on Crowdrise.
Your kind contributions will help ensure that the important work we are doing can continue
past travel dates
- March 2014: We visited our 2013 farmer exchange participant Guypson Catalis seeing for the first time the area and part of the country he hails from. During the summer Guypson will have finished his studies in agronomy. He plans to cultivate his land and to collaborate with the local community association "OPDS" to establish a working educational community garden and farm, which will operate under the principles of sustainable agriculture, and which will eventually be expanded to include ancillary projects including a visitors center for aspiring sustainable farmers to receive in-residence training. During our visit, we collaborated on making plans, on initiating first small hands-on projects and more. Guypson has since received a wide range of heirloom seeds provided indirectly by New Earth Farm. He has also been given funds raised for a 50% downpayment on a little under a half acre of land adjacent to his property. Together we hope to raise the remainder to launch "Nouvo Tè Farm" in Haiti! Please help us reach our fund raising goal.
- March 2013: This trip was a follow-up to the dry-composting latrine construction in Seguin. We assessed the integrity of the structure, conducted further trainings on proper use and maintenance, and together with the Ecole Nationale School Principal we assigned responsibilities on care-taking of the installation. During this trip we also helped install an organic vegetable and herb garden in Cyvadier. Having brought with us all heirloom seeds from the States, the varieties now growing there will be a healthly, fun and nutritious addition to meals prepared for guests and volunteers. In Cyvadier, we also conducted our first ever Tree Planting Festival together with the youth at JDS (Jen pou Devlopman Sivadye). The 1,000 trees planted were funded through our very own Miles of Trees initaitive.
April 2012: Having secured funding for another latrine, an increasingly difficult thing to do as public attention continues to shift away from Haiti, a team of volunteers returned to Seguin for the construction of a dry-composting latrine at the local Ecole Nationale just a few yards away from the earlier construction site. Having learned from past mistakes, the new construction is not only a better and more sustainable solution with the added benefit of creating compost usable for fertilization, CDi also brough their own skilled and experienced masons from Cyvadier near Jacmel who oversaw the work while training the local workers. Workshops on proper use of the latrine and application of the compost were held for the children and teachers at Ecole Nationale, as well as publicly for nearby residents who will be making use of the new installation as well. This trip also included the creation of an organic heirloom seed school garden as well as further steps towards the creation of our eco-enterprise initiatives.
July 2011: CDi returned to Seguin in the summer to gauge possibilities for a variety of new projects including organic school gardens, eco-tourism and eco-enterprise opportunities, collaborative mural arts projects, and involvement in reforestation efforts. During this visit CDi learned that heavy rainfalls had washed out the support structure of the pit latrine and that the construction needed to be razed. In discussions with the community CDi learned that luckily nobody was injured during the incident and that more than ever a new latrine was desired by Seguin's residents and their leaders.
January 2011: Based on the needs determined during previous visits and with the Cholera outbreak having reached the Seguin area, CDi, after months of fund raising and advocacy, dispatched a team to Seguin to construct the first free and public pit-latrine near the busy marketplace in the town center. Furthermore, the team included medical volunteers who were integrated into the daily operations of the local Cloud Forest Medical Clinic (housed in a building that CDi co-founder had built with his own hands as a high school volunteer). This support allowed resident doctors to venture further into the surrounding mountains and valleys to assess the spread of the disease. Read our mission brief here.
August 2010: Having made the strategic decision to avoid the over-crowded and relatively well-served city of Port-au-Prince in favor of a smaller, more rural and isolated cmmunity, one that had fallen through the cracks of large and established relief and development organizations, CDi deployed a team to Seguin in order to liaise with the community and potential local partners, and to conduct household surveys assessing social and economic needs of the local population.
January / February 2010: In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that brought the country to its knees, CDi founding members led a humanitarian effort to assist a small elementary school in the Port-au-Prince slum of Bel-Air. The traveling group consisted of volunteer doctors and nurses as well as other types of volunteers who assisted the community medically and with donated supplies including shelter, food and clothing which were collected during a sequence of events during the lead-up to the trip. Members of this mission since created CDI, and many of the volunteers that joined are still actively involved in our ongoing projects.
October 2009: United Nations Association Delegation to Haiti (Port-au-Prince and Seguin) with the objective of learning first hand about the challenges the country faces, the realities of the people living in Haiti, and the work being done by the UN Mission to Haiti, international organizations operating in Haiti, and grassroots efforts in a variety of social sectors. This trip was the culmination of a year-long UNA advocacy effort for Haiti (THEP - The Haiti Expedition Project) in which CDi founders Kevin Jamison, Veronica Sarrabayrouse and Matthias Resch played active and coordinating roles.