DAILY HAPPENINGS – Gillaine’s Journal

The wonderful thing about being here at ZANMI AGRIKOL/CFFL is that almost every day we have an exciting and interesting ‘happening’!

Today was no different when we were privileged to have a visit from the beautiful, charming and talented Edwidge Danticat, a celebrated and well known Haitian writer, now living in the US but known worldwide for her evocative writings about her Haitian upbringing and background.

Gillaine & Author

Gillaine Warne (left) and Edwidge Danticat (right)

Edwidge was gracious enough to ‘do the rounds’ of the classrooms and encourage all the students to value their educational opportunities at CFFL as their commitment to excellence in the classroom is important for the future of not only the Plateau Central but for all young people in Haiti. As future leaders, she said they are role models for a good, healthy and positive new generation of young Haitians.

She also visited and talked with our peanut farmer partners who supply the Nourimanba production center about the Obama administration’s plan to dump a million pounds of surplus peanuts into Haiti and the ramifications of that decision on the peanut industry here in the Plateau Central: a decision roundly criticized and condemned worldwide by major aid organizations. Having already had the experience of the ‘gift’ of free rice under President Bill Clinton, and his administration’s decision to force Haiti to drop tariffs on imported, subsidized rice — a decision which decimated Haitian rice farming as local Haitian farmers could not compete with cheaper imported rice — the farmers told Edwidge this new “peanut dumping” could have equally disastrous results on the some 150,000 peanut farmers in Haiti.


Edwidge discussing the situation with peanut farmers

The US Department of Agriculture says the peanuts would be distributed not ‘in shell’ but as grilled peanuts for snacks. The farmers pointed out this method precludes new seeds for sowing and the possibility of future peanut crops.

If farmers no longer have the possibility to grow, market and sell peanuts, they can’t purchase other food necessities and commerce essentially stops. They said, “We can’t just eat peanut butter or snacks all day every day.” One comment ringing very true and causing a good round of Haitian merriment was “if I don’t have peanuts to sell and bring home the money to my wife, she will be very unhappy and cross and will then leave me!” Will the voices of these farmers who depend on this industry to survive be heard? This remains to be seen.

We are always so grateful for visits of this kind as it brings us all into the larger world and allows our students and farmers to benefit from the opening of more doors and windows onto challenging ideas and situations that closely affect their own lives.

Thank you Edwidge for gracing us with your presence and thanks to the ever charming Alix Cantave from the WK Kellogg Foundation for bringing you to us!

What is going to happen tomorrow??? Stay tuned!