Tired of staying at home every day waiting for a miracle to happen or for the situation to improve. I immediately gave my agreement to Father Dominique (Father Robert Pierre-Louis) to go and participate in a workcamp in Cazale without knowing the extent of what was waiting for me, without thinking that this experience would change my life.

Cazale is a communal section located more than 12 km from Cabaret and more than 70 km from the Haitian capital. This village is the main population center of the Polish community in Haiti. The name Cazale originates from Kay Zalewski, which means “house of Zalewski” (a popular Polish family name) and is populated by descendants of Polish soldiers sent by Napoleon in 1802. Initially, their mission was to fight on the side of the French in order to discipline the slaves. However, seeing the cruelty of the French towards the slaves, they changed sides and helped the slaves to defend themselves. Cazale has known dark days because history tells us that on March 27, 1969, the Tontons Macoutes massacred more than twenty Cazalais for being fiercely opposed to the regime of (Papa Doc) François DUVALIER.

This area is favorable to agriculture but is not very well exploited, except by a few of its inhabitants. It is with this objective that INHO (Invest in People), a non-profit association decided to highlight the assets and wealth of this village, to serve the children and youth in Haiti. Human development: education, agriculture. Above all, teaching young people to live and work as a team, etc. are the main targets.

As a volunteer, I was going to leave for this village with a group of young people. The workcamp took place from June 16 to 20. I contacted my friend Macky, one of the members, who was also going. He was the only person I knew before this camp.

Being the first one to arrive in the downtown area, more precisely on Saint-Honoré street, which was our starting point, I immediately met Guerby, one of the participants, a nice guy, not too talkative, enthusiastic just like me to participate in this great adventure. A few minutes later, Macky arrived and together we went to Clercine to join the others.

Once in Clercine, we were seven (7) in total (Genel, a young man from Cazale, Tom from Pétion ville, Skine from Delmas, Guerby from Carrefour, Julméus from Port-de-Paix – the North-West of the country; Macky and I, from Carrefour), the team being complete, we headed for Cazale for our mission.

Silence reigned in the van (route: Clercine-Cross of the missions) because most of us did not know each other but once in the bus for Cabaret, it was another atmosphere, everything intrigued me: from the presentation of the team in the bus, through the jokes of the marketing agent always in the bus with his famous products.

Then while getting off, the mode of transport of the Cazalais passengers in motorcycle cab and finally the stop to cross the river on foot naked before reaching the village.

Welcome to Cazale, a sign posted at the entrance to the town. Despite the lack of electricity and road infrastructure, this does not prevent us from seeing all the beauty and richness of this village: its natural resources, the hospitality of the people and the calm and peaceful climate that prevails. Genel, a native of the village was our local guide. He is a dedicated young man with a great sense of responsibility.

As soon as we arrived, we could see the familiarity between us, as if we were long-time friends. Skine and Guerby are our two jokers who are humorous but serious about their work. Tom is the youngest among us, he is kind, understanding and obedient.

Julméus, known as Kaya with his northern accent, is very helpful and always has a story to tell. Macky, our photographer and motivator, always reminds us of our mission and I try to adapt, which is easy because the atmosphere was at my ease. Our thanks to the Jean-Claude family for welcoming us.

Laughter was always on our lips, we were always looking for a way to have fun without losing sight of our objective which brought us to meet the young people of Cazale among whom: Genel and Jean Claude that we already knew Wesner, Jeannel, Prospère, Mano, Jimmy, Dauggy etc… They showed us some techniques and practices of animal production especially concerning the goats: How to take care of them, feed them etc… things that most of us didn’t know afterwards, we went to Mrs. Anaïse the mother of Wesner and Mano, very kind and courteous, she showed us the land.

We organized what is called in Creole a ”Konbit” – Camp-workshop to plant beans. The Konbit is a cultural heritage well implanted in the customs of the Haitian peasantry, a choice that allows the peasants to face agriculture.

Large stones are laid out, the children fetch wood for the fire. The aroma of the coffee prepared by Mrs. Anaïse and Livia incites us to put down our tools to drink it, then, we invest the ground by working ardently. The “Konbit” progresses with the animations and the regional songs to give a festive air to the event.

The team spirit made us united and welded, we could not differentiate the young people of Cazale and those of Port-au-Prince and Port-de-Paix. No discrimination or social class. It is in this same spirit that 2 days later, on June 18th, Steeve, one of the members coming from Port-au-Prince joined us. Not being able to be there from the beginning, he was accompanied by a guest who was leaving the same day. Steeve, Tom’s older brother, will stay with us. He immediately blended in. He is very wise and fully involved in all the activities. All the credit goes to the young people of Cazale for their dedication and know-how. We have learned a lot from them. And that’s one of the principles of INHO – learning from each other, young people, learning and teaching. They reminded us once again that the Creole proverb “Men anpil chay pa lou” which promotes collaboration, unity and team spirit, or our famous saying at INHO “Goumen ansanm oubyen mouri pou kò w. (Stand and fly as one or die alone).

Let’s use the Haitian motto ”l’Union fait la force” because during this camp, I saw what young people can do while uniting. We were united and that’s what makes us strong. The walks, the bathing in the river, the food and the very tasty local products, the climbs in the mountains to go graze the goats and the “Konbit” all that in us the flame of hope and revives in us a feeling of belonging to this nation which needs so much of its young people to be reborn from its ashes.

We were about forty: children from 6 to 17 years old both sexes; and young adults, also both sexes. The young boys of 16 years old at most worked in the “Konbit” and grazed the goats. The girls up to 16 years old helped Anaïse and Lavia in the kitchen – and the children from 6, 7 to 16 years old played among themselves.

How could I forget our music compositions taking everything in front of us to produce sounds, our afternoon debates on the problems of Haitian youth while trying to find solutions and an improvised party the day before our departure with all the young people singing, dancing not to say goodbye but to say goodbye we’ll see you at the harvest.

Jean Charles Roberval Raymond

Confident that this was not our last trip, we returned to Cazale for the harvest. The young Cazalais were waiting for us impatiently. We arrived in time for the harvest. We immediately set to work. We listened attentively to the explanations of the young Cazalais to extract the beans well while identifying the good from the bad. All this, in a fraternal atmosphere, with our famous religious and regional animations and songs. Happy reunions were made in a friendly spirit, the hospitality of the inhabitants was as always warm and satisfying. For a beginning, the harvest was a success and it will not stop there. The herd of goats was 14 when we first visited Cazale and now we have 19 goats. Throughout this exercise, we contemplate with pride all that we have achieved from our first arrival in Cazale to the harvest. Without a doubt, I suppose some questions come to mind:

-Why not have a farm?

-Why not extend this project to all ten (10) departments of the country?

So many questions that INHO (Investing in People), a non-profit association wants to answer step by step. We want to take the step without making haste. After this experience in breeding and gardening (Konbit in Creole language) our vision will not stop there. Indeed, we want to go further, to spread our ideas in almost all the cities of the country, to support the young people by giving them a reason to believe and hope. We want to build not one farm, but several. Unfortunately, our economic means are very weak, we can’t do it alone. We need you, your financial support to promote this mission. We also need your prayers, your advices, your comments or others.

While being aware that we are not the savior of Haiti, we want to bring our stone to the building of a new Haiti starting in Cazale. We want to teach young people that the best way to rebuild their country is not to wait for help from abroad, but rather to produce and develop a good relationship with the land and this is what we are doing through our different activities for and by young people.

We believe in the words of Edmund Burke: “It is enough for good men to do nothing for evil to triumph” so doing something good is not only a humanitarian or patriotic duty, but preferably we must do it to leave behind a better generation and more so as Christians in the manner of our savior JESUS.

It is in this same spirit that despite the lack of land, we the youth of “INHO”, we cultivate with a piece of land belonging to a person of good will in the area until we have our own space to create a large farm. We are working to protect the environment by giving back to the community what we have received from it: to develop its resources; not only through breeding and gardening, but also through reforestation. This is why INHO wants to organize several activities for this year:

-A reforestation day followed by several visits with the aim of raising awareness and making children and adults understand the need to protect their environment.

-Not to mention, last November we started a scholarship program for youth at Jeremie Eliazer High School in Cazale, because our dream is to have free schools and academies in Haiti and we are convinced that a country can only remain standing if its intellectual elite is strong. Through a solid education that they will receive, young people will fight; not only corruption and injustice, but they will also put the common good before personal interest. Therefore, we must have a good school system to produce good and honest citizens to serve our country well.

In spite of our limited means, we have only thirty (30) children in the program and the cost of a school year is one thousand (1000) gourdes or about 10 to 15 US dollars. However, we want to do more and we will not stop fighting until we have more children in the program, because we believe that Education is the way to development in any country.

Without you we can do nothing, please help us to make this dream a reality. Support our work and help us raise funds for the scholarship program, the reforestation day and the purchase of land for a large farm.

Jean Charles Roberval Raymond

Gradually climbing the ladder without rushing, INHO (Investing in People) a non-profit association organized on Saturday, May 1, 2021 a reforestation day at (Morne Fèm) Cazale in the township of Cabaret. It must be said that it is the result of a long work although the task was not easy, because we met many economic difficulties. Our sincere thanks to the generous donors who supported us.

It all started with a meeting of the committee expressing the desire to organize a reforestation day in Cazale, because seeing how erosion is devastating the area. The mountains are razed, the trees are cut down, it is more than necessary to act and plan this reforestation and we divided into groups to carry out the tasks: Steeve and Miler took care of the purchase of seedlings that they could find in the Archahaie and Damien (in the plain). Saphar and Fabienne were in charge of planning the day, preparing the menu to feed the youngsters. And I had the noble task of raising awareness and organizing training for the youth. Even though the responsibilities were shared, this did not prevent us from encountering many difficulties. From a financial point of view, our organization does not really have a large fund. At each activity, we just count our money. We had to go back and forth to Cazale several times to make sure that everything would be ready before the big day. In order to have a regular follow-up by the inhabitants of the village – we invited the Cazalais to come and work with us. Because many people organize reforestation days, but without doing any maintenance to ensure a good growth of the land and the small trees.

After the purchase of the seedlings, the transport was the biggest worry for us. We had at least 400 plants and we had to make several trips, because the vehicle that was at our disposal could not transport them in one trip. We were motivated because we believed that by working together and pooling our skills we could accomplish great things.

Many of those who participated in our summer 2020 work camp (agriculture) were present. For many of us, it was a reunion. And “getting to know each other” for others. Genel, member of the INHO cell in Cazale as usual, was our guide. Macky from Carrefour was our facilitator. From Port-de-Paix came Julméus, whom we loved to hear speak because of his famous accent from the northwest. Delicien, aka Del was our photographer. Stanley joined us for the first time. Finally, the youngest and nicest of us, Tom from the metropolitan area.

We started with a training session on Friday, April 30, on the consequences of global warming and the importance of reforestation, followed by a workshop where the young people expressed themselves clearly on their commitment to serve their community and the actions they will have to take, especially in the context of ensuring the maintenance of seedlings. One could feel the determination that animated these young people from 12 to 17 years old.

And on May 1st, the long awaited day of reforestation. The number of participants exceeded our expectations, more than eighty young people were present, but what impressed me the most was the presence of a large number of children under the age of 10 who expressed their desire to come and reforest and who were not afraid to climb the mountain. It is with a heart of joy, smiles on their lips and seedlings in hand (also helped by our horses) that the young Cazalais participated ardently in this beautiful reforestation in a friendly and fraternal spirit while singing our famous regional songs from everywhere.

We chose the mountain to reforest with forest trees because we wanted the inhabitants to stop logging. To stop cutting down trees to make charcoal. And it is in this optic that the young people through the works in workshop promised to do all that is possible to fight the deforestation by starting in this zone which they could reforest. They forbid bringing livestock which could harm the good growth of the seedlings, they forbid setting fire to them and they forbid cutting down the seedlings which will become big trees in the future. They will organize themselves in small groups in order to sensitize the inhabitants not to cut them in order that they remain under firm and solid ground to help us to fight for example the flood, the erosion and to bring all the benefits which a beautiful reforestation gets.

Once reforested, everything is not yet finished, we went down to continue the animation of songs and dances. And we had our lunch. After the departure of the young people, as usual the committee met to make the assessment of the day. We had planned everything from the beginning to the end and reforesting the area is only the beginning, because the finality is to set up a nursery in Cazale containing forest and fruit trees in order not to go any more to look for seedlings in distant places and which are very expensive, but preferably to have them at our leisure in large quantities by planting the forest trees in the mountains and the fruit trees in public places, schools and even in people’s yards. This is the long term project of INHO association as far as reforestation is concerned. We plan to organize a similar day at least once a year, to visit the plants every month and this is what we did this June 5, 2021 which is also the World Environment Day. Part of our team went to Cazale to see how they grow and to follow up. Alone we cannot do anything, so dear readers, we are asking for your help in the idea of helping these young people to help their community to grow.

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