Farmers of Morne Michelle planting seeds for a nursery which may be modeled on the Zanmi Kafe Project. Morne Michelle, Haiti. May 27, 2015 [Photo: Hunter Swenson]
Today we (Geanina Fripp, Hunter Swenson, Peter Davis, and Scott Summers, and myself) experienced a new aspect of Haitian community life. A group of Zanmi Kafe and Zanmi Photo students hiked the winding trail into the mountains above Lac Peligre, to the village of Morne Michelle. We had been invited to a Kombit, a community gathering, to fill several thousand plastic sacks with soil and plant them with seeds to fill the new nursery there. The arduous hike brought to mind the Kreyol proverb “deye mon gen mon,” which translates as “beyond mountains are mountains.” While this proverb carries a great deal more meaning, the literal translation seemed rather apt as we crested ridge after ridge, each offering stunning views of Lac Peligre and the surrounding valleys.
As we approached the nursery at Morne Michelle we heard singing and laughter, and arrived to find the community had already gathered at the nursery. Maxo and Bosque, the agronomists who had accompanied us, gathered everyone together and delivered a speech explaining the mission of Zanmi Kafe and what we would be doing today. Soon everyone was busy mixing soil and pouring it into sacks with our hands. The sacks were passed into the nursery along a line as an older man led the assembly in song, banging on a machete with a rock to provide rhythm. Those who weren’t working were dancing or waiting in the shade to take over when the workers tired. The whole community pulsed with the rhythm of our work as the nursery was filled. And this rhythm persisted even after our work was done and we made our way down the mountainside.