For those of you who read the Highlights Graduation Special edition earlier this month, you already know that May is surely the most exciting month of the year for us here in Deschappelles. The first day of the month began with a graduation ceremony honoring 738 graduates with a second ceremony less than one week later honoring 281 more. All program participants, even those not eligible to graduate were invited to the ceremonies representing more than 1,400 guests.
Program participants accompanied by a marching
band head into the HAS dispensary at Bastien for
the second of two HTRIP graduation ceremonies.
May also brings the first rains of the wet season which means it’s time to start planting trees in addition to our shade tolerant crops. The shade crop trials are taking place in the demonstration plots of 15 HTRIP communities that have been with us since at least 2008. The shade crop trials are important for working with farmers to discover high value crops that can be grown under the shade of their older trees that prohibit the continued cultivation of the traditional corn and millet. Yams worked well in last year’s pilot shade demonstration trial and are being accompanied this year by an additional range of shade tolerant contenders including passion fruit, taro, pumpkin, and various beans.
Technicians Mathurin Dorceus and Antione Frantz
pose in the shade at Didye’s shade crop konbit.
Unfortunately, May was not universally joyful. The entire HTRIP staff was forced to say goodbye to not one, but two wonderful interns who embedded themselves in the HTRIP team. Uma Bhandaram completed 10 weeks with us down here in Haiti before returning to her job at an environmental consulting firm in Southern California. She greatly enjoyed her time working in the field with the staff and helping the program manager prepare for the large graduation ceremonies.
Angel Hertslet, Shellon Mondesir, Albertini Alexandre,
and Fenel Plaisel enjoy the pleasant shade of the
Dwen community tree nursery.
Technician Shellon Mondesir and Jack Devine
collect the tools after planting trees in the Ores
Demonstration plot with a community member.
We lost two incredible interns, but gained one equally enthusiastic. Angel Hertslet, who met all three power interns (Ruth Portnoff, Jack Devine, and Uma Bhandaram) in her March visit with the Yale School of Forestry, has returned for a 10 week internship. She is working out the details of a research project for her Master’s thesis in Environmental Science.
Technician Albertini Alexandre (top left) observes
school children at the community of Dris as they
help arrange tree in the community nursery.
Visiting the small community tree nurseries is one of the greatest pleasures for the Project Manager. Each nursery has its own unique feel and presence in a community. Some are at the heart of the community near the church or school, whereas others are further removed. Some communities have better access to water and a correspondingly greater number of healthy trees. At the modest subsidy of 1 gourde ($.025) per tree produced, it is hard to think of a more effective way HTRIP spends money.
It is during the rainy season when the hillsides transform from brown to green and we are doing our part by putting the trees in the ground that the HTRIP staff is working at its best. We would like to thank the generous support of our donors who allow this rewarding and important work to continue.
The HTRIP Staff,
including Starry Sprenkle, Ross Bernet, Jack Devine, Uma Bhandaram, and Angel Hertslet