Monday, April 30, 2012

April HTRIP Highlights!

Dear Supporters,

April has been an exciting month on many accounts.  We have completed our monthly education cycle for program participants, started planting shade crops that will carry us into the next phase of our program, watched our community nurseries grow up before our very eyes, and seen the start of the rains that mark our busiest and most joyful time of year – the time to start planting trees! But April was not without a touch of sadness as we were forced to say goodbye to the much appreciated and incredibly hardworking intern Ruth Portnoff.

Ruth Portnoff working with Shellon Mondesir
and Marielle Pharelus planting yams in
2008 community Dibit.
Our education cycle runs July through April. At the end of those ten months, program participants who missed no more than three lessons will graduate in our annual graduation ceremony the first week of May and receive a graduation certificate and a germinated coconut tree to take home to plant.  This month’s lesson continued last month’s discussion of agroforestry in addition to a review of the previous nine month’s lessons.

Ruth Portnoff was invited down in large part to help provide the organization and knowledge necessary to start HTRIP’s next phase of introducing shade tolerant crops that will thrive beneath our closing canopies. She worked with each technician to identify 16 demonstration parcels from our early communities with sufficient shade to support a different set of crops beyond the traditional sun-hungry corn and millet.  We worked with the idea to give the technicians as much control over this new experiment as possible, giving them the responsibility to choose and purchase the seeds.  According to the rains and the lunar cycle, yams were the first crop to be planted and five successful konbits have already taken place.

Adieff Jean-Charles, Jack Devine, Uma Bhandaram,
 Marielle Pharelus and the leader of Savonawoch
admire the community tree nursery of over 5,000 trees.
No one was happy to see Ruth depart just as her plans were turning into plantings, but life calls and it called Ruth to Uganada where she will continue working with ECHO on agricultural assessment in rural areas. We wish you luck and that you will return to HTRIP again someday.  Although sad to see Ruth go, Uma Bhandaram and Jack Devine carry on the role of HTRIP interns dutifully.  They both picked up creole with incredible rapidity and have really enjoyed working with the HTRIP technicians in all their tasks.  They have also been essential in helping prepare for the imminent May 1st graduation ceremony.

All of us here in Deschappelles are ever thankful to the support of our donors that make this work possible. We are also ever grateful for this year’s good fortune. We look forward to the coming months of tree planting with much excitement.

The HTRIP Staff,
including Starry Sprenkle, Ross Bernet, Jack Devine, and Uma Bhandaram