This past Monday morning, our team of interns and agronomists started the day bright and early to begin our hike up to Bois Jolie. Since we first arrived in Haiti, I have been anticipating this day. We were finally going to start our economic surveys. As part of the research we are conducting this summer, a series of economic surveys is being distributed to the farmers who partner with Zanmi Kafe. The survey assesses how they spend their carbon payments and what benefits they see from working with Zanmi Kafe. So far, our questionnaires have provided us a sneak peek into their lives seeing some of the things the farmers value. They have also been useful in generating some new ideas of resources we could potentially assist with in the future.
Beginning the first round of surveys, it became evident that the excitement I felt was a shared sentiment among the farmers as well! I had feared that they would find the process to be daunting, but each one of them came with a cooperative spirit and enthusiasm to share as we went through each question. The most rewarding part of it was having these moments where I could see each person’s dedication through the conversations that were sparked in response to the questions. Some who spent most of their money on their children’s school would go on small tangents about their kids while others who invested a large sum of it buying more coffee were proud to talk about the progress they were making on their farms.
For instance, one farmer in the community explained that rather than using most of his money to pay for his child’s school as he would like to, he has invested a good portion of it back into his farm buying new tools, seeds, and an abundance of coffee because he recognizes the potential profit that will come from a more successful farm which will then help to continue to pay for school. Hearing stories like this one really validates the work we are doing. It has been great to see how invested the farmers are in the program, encouraging me to work harder in the coming weeks.
As we wrapped up for the day and began to settle down, a few of the farmers, some of which we had surveyed during the day, hung around the school. We stayed out joining in on card games and casual conversations. Being able to experience the sense of community that they so clearly have among each other made me feel as if we are being integrated into this large family, working together for the good of the community.