Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HTRIP May Highlights!

Dear Supporters,

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.
February through April HTRIP communities install rock walls and earthen canals to prevent soil erosion and hold water in place.  Experienced communities are capable of doing this work on their own with small quantities of food to support konbits, but in new communities HTRIP technicians teach the new techniques.  Then we wait for the rain.  This month we planted trees in the demonstration plot of two new communities; Remanse and Ores, where we were greeted with lots of enthusiasm.

            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.
Jack Devine left in the middle of his fourth month with HTRIP.  His last several weeks saw an incredible drive to bring a honey producing bee box to the HTRIP repertoire. Jack contacted a local carpenter familiar with bee boxes to construct one for us.  On his search for people willing to get bees into the box, he found someone willing to sell a box with bees already producing honey inside.  It is not very helpful to get us the box and then leave us without direction, but luckily Jack is already planning his return trip for another month with us before he starts at CMU in the Fall.

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

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