Why Haitian Farmers Matter

The question I am asked most often about the trip to Haiti is ‘What did you do there?’, and although I know exactly what it is I did, I find myself stumbling to explain our trip beyond the Zanmi Kafe program itself. On paper, the Zanmi Kafe partnership is working to change a cultural tradition, charcoal burning, to help promote a healthier environment. But how on earth does this relate to me, living over a thousand miles away from such remote mountain villages? In that question I believe I can come to understand, and better explain, the importance of such a trip. On the surface, I have very little in common with Guy Mars, one of the participating farmers. I grew up in a suburb of Nashville, and have not gone hungry a day in my life. Guy grew up in a remote section of the Haitian mountains, with no Kroger or Target to be found anywhere in his country. I have had any minor physical ailment treated by an incredible healthcare system, and Guy is mute, and may never see a doctor for treatment. And yet, we both value something critical to our extremely different lives. We share this earth, and live together in an unseeable web of connections. We breath the same air, and we pollute the same air. We walk on the surface of the same earth, and we damage the same earth with harmful practices. And when we have together made our earth uninhabitable, we will both suffer. Money and wealth will protect nobody from a climate catastrophe. However, my partnership with Guy can be as constructive as it can be destructive. Guy,, myself, along with all the other Haitians and Sewanee students, are working together to cause less environmental damage, and save our home. This is what I did in Haiti.

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