February has come and gone full speed. While continuing the ongoing and demanding work of filial plot control, we have also begun organizing food distribution among our communities for our soil conservation konbits and we have started our annual outreach to new potential HTRIP communities. Our new nursery is up and fully operational, and the array of daily activity under the oversight of Gerard Alvarez foreshadows just how busy we will be in the coming months as we deliver our expected 60,000 tree seedlings when the rains starts around May.
|Technicians Alexandre Albertini (left) |
and Julson Pharélus (right) record GPS
coordinates at one of our filial plots.
Before we can plant the trees however, our communities are to engage in soil conservation konbits. Konbits are already a part of a Haitian tradition of community members coming together to work on a project followed by a shared meal. We supply the food for the day while the community does the labor installing soil conservation techniques of rock walls and small canals to combat erosion and allow for maximum retention of rainwater when the dry season comes to an end.
With the New Year well underway, we are making good headway in adding new HTRIP communities. Now that the work of HTRIP is common knowledge in the HAS service area, it is not unusual for communities to make contact with us requesting to join the program. Such was the case with our first new community for 2012, Rondo, near the 2007 community of Titon. We have several meetings already planned for March with other potential new communities.
When it rains it pours, and February has brought not one, but two interns to the HTRIP team. Ruth Portnoff is joining us for two months on her THIRD visit to HTRIP. She recently completed a yearlong internship with Florida’s ECHO learning about tropical ecology and agriculture – she was an asset to HTRIP in the past, and her value is now increased many fold. The second intern, Jack Devine, is here in Haiti for the first time. He is taking a gap year before university with Carnegie Mellon University awaiting him in the fall. Both Ruth and Jack have been participating in HTRIPs day-to-day operations - working with staff members on filial plot control, research, and daily nursery activities.
|Driver Fenel Plaisil, interns Ruth Portnoff |
and Jack Devine, and technician Mathurin Dorcéus
after the long hike to and from Barbes.
Ruth is taking on a few side projects, including helping the technicians organize all the necessary information for implementing our second year trial of shade tolerant crops. Jack has been particularly useful in helping the staff improve their skills on the computer. Having never used a computer in her life, Marielle Pharèlus is already able to create basic spread sheets using Excel and basic contracts using Word. Shellon Mondèsir is using his newly learned skills with Excel to create spreadsheets that are helping him manage all the tools and food in our new depot. Although they are incredibly quick learners, the process has required a lot of patience because repetition is the key to success of this new skill – and Jack has already proven he is up to the task.
All of this, with the help of our excellent staff and always cheerful interns, has made this a very productive February. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your help in making this excellent work possible.
The HTRIP Staff,
Including Starry Sprenkle, Ross Bernet, Ruth Portnoff, and Jack Devine