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Nathalie, Haiti: "I am really empowered to take care of my family."

“I have respect for trees, and I plant a lot because I am very concerned about erosion,” shares Nathalie. “It is a direct consequence of deforestation and bad farming practices. Farming is essential for the economic survival of my family in Haiti.”

Erosion is indeed a serious concern for rural farmers in Haiti. In the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere, poverty is directly linked to deforestation. The steep hills of Haiti’s farmlands combined with its geographic vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes make soil erosion a major threat. Without the support of tree roots to help stabilize the soil, nutrients are often washed out, contributing to food insecurity and crop failure.

This is one of the main reasons Plant With Purpose works in Haiti. Our approach of Community Designed Restoration© (CDR) is most effective in places where poverty and soil health are deeply linked and places where farming takes place on steep hillsides. At Purpose Groups, members learn regenerative agriculture techniques that build soil health.

“I have applied various techniques I learned from Plant With Purpose like grafting, layering, nursery, natural pesticides, soil conservation, and so forth. My favorite techniques are natural pesticides, soil conservation, and nursery development,” adds Nathalie.

“My partnership with Plant With Purpose has impacted my income and my quality of life because I am able to save money and get loans to buy seeds and fertilizers for cultivating my lands and get better yields. My family in Haiti is currently always happy due to the economic improvements.”

If the cycle of poverty and environmental degradation is uninterrupted, people like Nathalie are put in vulnerable positions and often have to make dangerous choices.

“I once had to take out a loan to pay for farming needs, along with my children’s school fees,” she recalls. “At the time, it was an urgent need. Having access to this credit for farming and business used to be my biggest challenge. I felt discouraged because I was alone with my problems.

“I used to sell my animals while they were young at low, low prices to address my family’s needs. I knew I needed alternatives. I now have that through my Purpose Group.”

Purpose Groups include a savings and loan program that provides members with access to loans. These are often used to invest in sustainable farming and small businesses, creating a lasting pathway out of poverty.

“Today, I feel much more involved with the community,” says Nathalie as she assesses her current life. “My problems are not personal anymore. I found solutions to them thanks to the partnership of my Purpose Group. I am really proud of all I have accomplished during my participation in the group.

“Thanks to this progress, I now understand leadership. To me, it is whatever kind of influence on others to make something. So, as a woman involved in a community structure I can say that I am a leader. In my community, leadership looks like the ability to motivate and train people about collective activity.”

Purpose Groups see about two-thirds female participation, and women are regularly included in leadership roles.

“I am a woman in leadership,” adds Nathalie. “My role is to encourage everybody, mostly the women, to learn and work together for improving their conditions of life. We work together in road repairing. We have our own meeting house.

“I am really empowered to take care of my family in Haiti. I pay school fees, buy books, and provide food anytime. I also have the opportunity to farm and invest in business. My family life is uplifted by Plant With Purpose. Both economically and spiritually, I am more empowered to take care of everybody. We are living in full harmony. There is more unity among my family and my neighbors. As a leader, I inspire much confidence in them. We are free to meet and discuss anything.

“I come from a Christian family. I do know and practice the word of God. However, the practical spiritual approach of Plant With Purpose strengthens my faith and makes me live more in peace with God. Help me pray to God to help my country get out of this situation of insecurity and instability.”

About the Author

Plant With Purpose seeks to restore hope by reversing two of the world’s greatest challenges: global poverty and environmental damage. These problems are interconnected.

Our goal is to see creation’s life-giving regenerative cycles restored and people renewed through their relationship to God, living in healthy sufficiency and empowered to dream.

We operate in eight countries around the world. Our international work is 100% locally-led, with global offices operating both as independent agencies within their country, and alliance partners with Plant With Purpose U.S., which supports their ongoing work.

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