Saving Mud-Covered Haiti’s Crops – And Mountains

The Haitians have a saying, “beyond mountains there are mountains,” meaning after each big obstacle stands another bigger obstacle.

I saw the saying come to life in the town of Cabaret. It was my first trip to Haiti, a ninety minute plane ride from Miami. So close, yet so foreign. There was no warning the night Hurricane Ike hit Cabaret and no evacuations. The town’s two rivers swelled with such force the night Hurricane Ike hit, they swept dozens of people out to sea, and left a thick layer of mud in homes and on roads. At least 68 people were killed in flash floods in this farming town of 30,000 – 17 of them children.

When I arrived, the mud from the river was dry and a fortunate few managed to remove most of it from their homes. But there’s no way to clean the bedding, the tables, the walls. Banana farmer Jean Renaud Romelus told me he hasn’t even gotten that far yet. His home is filled with mud, his truck buried in mud, his crop flattened by mud. He has no food to sell; no food to eat.

Because Haiti’s third-largest city is still flooded, and some 250,000 people are stranded without food or water, smaller towns such as Cabaret fall much lower on the priority list. In many of these towns, non-governmental aid groups have come to the rescue. An American relief organization called Mission of Hope Haiti has been handing out food in Cabaret. But even they admit they have a hard time keeping up with demand. I spent much of my time with workers from World Vision. They’ve been trying to reach the small salt-producing town of Grande Saline for days with no luck. No one knows how many people there died, or how many are waiting for food and water.

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