A blog by Dan Moen
The focus of this trip I found is not Haiti in general but more specifically the Papaye Peasant Movement or MPP. It is a social/political peasant movement in Haiti. MPP is connected to other similar groups in Haiti. Internationally it is connected to the Via La Campesina movement. The UU College of Social Justice manages these trips (since 2012) to visit UU Service Committee “Partners”. The Partner organization in this case is MPP. This appears to be a typical UUSC partnership. It is long term relationship with a local group. UUSC is interested in groups that are focused on children and women. UUSC program director in Haiti is Wendy Flick. I am told that prior to joining UUSC team that she had over 10 years of experience in Haiti. UUSC offers MPP and other organization in Haiti small grants of assistance. They also give professional consultation as requested. Another important element of UUSC grants are that the request for aid come from the local group and what they feel will make them sustainable.
For the next week we would visit MPP work sites for shared working. We would learn about various MPP programs from their MPP managers. The following is copied from K. Leader’s master’s thesis on the MPP. This should give everyone a good idea as to what MPP is about.
“Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) was founded in 1973 by current MPP Director Jean-Baptiste Chavannes and celebrated its fortieth anniversary in March 2013. MPP is a peasants ‘organization that aims to create peasant solidarity throughout Haiti and fight for their cultural, social, and economic advancement. While both men and women can be members of MPP, it also created the branches “Jeunes Travailleurs Paysans” in 1979, to address the needs of youth, and the “Mouvement des Femmes du MPP” in 1981, to defend women’s rights. In the Central Plateau alone, MPP has 4,184 groupements – community working groups with their own specific aims but committed to the goals of MPP – totaling around 54,000 members. To become a member of MPP, one must form or become part of a “groupement” with no more than 15 people. Together, they must engage in a collective project (e.g., planting a communal field) and hold a meeting every week. Every member pays an annual membership fee of 100 Haitian Gourdes (US $2.35). The organization actively promotes the interests of small-scale producers at domestic and international levels, disseminates information and provides training on sustainable agriculture techniques, and supports local agricultural.”
On Monday our day was full. During our 4 hour work period we worked alongside Haitians to stuff these 4” by 7” plastic bags with what they call medium. The medium is carefully composed of soil, manure, sand and compost. Muler our guide for the week informed us that MPP was about being organic. They do not use any pesticides or non-organic additives. Muler talks about this as a way of life. He and MPP are building sustainability. He does not believe in the GMO product. At times during the week it almost felt like a religion but religion in a positive way.
In the evening as scheduled we had an hour of group reflections ( We had 20 min in the morning). Our leaders lead this part of the program with some assistance from the group. The nightly program consisted of reflection on writing. Sometimes as a group we contribute our thoughts to the reflection. And there were hymns that we seem to struggle through. The group members seemed to enjoy the experience. I have to say that “reflections:” went a bit long for me.