Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. We would like to take this a step further and say that if you teach a man to create fishing poles, he will end hunger in his area.
On one of my first trips to Haiti, I found more NGOs than I could count. Each doing what they thought was best to help the people of Haiti. Almost all of them were providing things for free. Shoes. Clothing. Food…
I witnessed a person dumping a bag of shoes in a community for everyone to come grab a free pair. Looking over to my right, I immediately saw a woman sitting by a blanket covered in shoes that she was selling begin to cry. I asked her what was the matter and she replied “I took out loans to start selling these shoes and to finally have a business for myself. In a single moment these people came and ruined my chances of selling to anyone in my own community. Who will buy my shoes if they can get free ones every time someone comes through?” I bought a pair of her shoes and left. Thinking about the negative impact that was taking place because people with big hearts, wanted to help, but did not think through obvious implications.
That was the day that the vision of Cafe Kreyol was born. At first it was just a thought. Soon, it became a reality.
Our philosophy is that giving a donation is fleeting and can indeed be harmful to a culture when it is done on a large scale for extended periods of time, such as we see in Haiti. We must also draw the conclusion from this, that providing trees to farmers, although offering a sustainable job to them, is almost equally as much a hand out, and not only doesn’t encourage ownership of problem-solving and local relief, but when those trees suffer the next natural disaster the farmers will be left right where they started.
This is why we have chosen to form a partnership with Coopacvod, the oldest cooperative in Haiti. Together, we came up with the idea to contract 100% of the work to local Haitian adults who belong to the cooperative, which benefits the group in many ways. Jobs are provided to those who will be contracted to work at the nursery. They will be gaining knowledge that they can then take and replicate on their own, which the cooperative will be encouraging them to do. Jobs are provided to the farmers who receive the fruit-producing plants and they will be given membership to the cooperative giving them access to extensive agricultural knowledge and mentoring as well as a guaranteed way to sell 100% of the beans they produce.
By providing work and giving others the responsibility of creating that work for others, our hope is to begin seeing local agricultural entrepreneurs flourish and inadvertently benefit their own community as a result.
Please check out our Own A Tree Project for more information on how to partner with us and help Haitians create more jobs for other Haitians.