Haiti – Courage and Grace

I’m just working on a piece from Haiti that describes the work of Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL).

This is important at the DOHA COP 18 is ongoing and while experience says otherwise perhaps something will come of the COP. One thing I have noticed is that there is a lot of so called “Climate” funding going to academics for measuring and computer modeling. With continuous monitoring you can get endless numbers. This can be important for monitoring and evaluation. But we should never forget, the carbon is not in the numbers it is in the SOIL.

We should consider if funds aren’t more necessary to provide jobs, sanitation, dignity, equality and actual carbon sequestration in places like Haiti.

We don’t have theoretical climate changes. We have physical disruptions to Earth Systems. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change requires physically restoring organic matter in soil, biomass in vegetation cover and protecting biodiversity.

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is acting with courage, grace and dignity by empowering the local people of Haiti with knowledge and opportunity to solve their own problems. What the good people working with SOIL in Haiti are illustrating is that there is a huge workforce ready to mitigate and adapt to climate change and that doing this is the same work needed to end the poverty and misery they currently endure.

I’ve always wondered why Haiti was so poor. On this trip I began to understand what has happened. In 1804 Haiti won its independence when the people rejected slavery, rebelled against the French and took over in a revolution. Then the French demanded that the Haitians pay reparations for their “Lost Property”. This was 10′s of millions of dollars then and would be the equivalent of more than 20 billion dollars today. It took over 100 years but the Haitians actually paid for their freedom.

The colonial powers feared that following the Haitian example all over the world colonies and slaves would demand their freedom and independence. This is exactly what happened. But by then the world had come to understand that you can’t own human beings and no other former colony was expected to pay their oppressors. Seen from this perspective the trouble Haiti has seen seems much more understandable and the work of SOIL and the people of HAITI is magnificent.

Perhaps we need to focus our view away from the big international conferences and more on the work of ordinary people who are really the ones required to mitigate and adapt to climate change. What the negotiators need to do is to support them with funding so that they can do the job.

8 Responses to “Haiti – Courage and Grace”

  • I loved Lessons of the Loess Plateau.
    What if the people of Haiti were hired to plant trees to hold and nourish the soil of their island.
    What if they were given a plot of land within community parcels to grow vegetables and keep animals within a permaculture construct so the agriculture was collaborative and regenerative
    Your Friend & Ally,

    • Bill, I am a huge fan of the Haitian spirit. No matter what the obstacles are, no matter how many natural disasters (one after another), their spirit still forges on. The situation in Haiti is a complicated one. I recently read an article in the New York times that summed it up nicely. It discussed the Clinton Foundation’s involvement and subsequent extrication, the status of the money donated for the Haitian earthquake relief, the Haitian government, etc. Re your suggestion to hire Haitians to plant trees, give them plots of land to grow vegetables, etc. It sounds like a good start. I do believe that there are government supported incentive programs for farmers. There are in fact some wonderful Haitian non profits doing great work in Haiti. There is Boby Duval Carrie’s soccer camp for 2000 homeless children http://lathletiquedhaiti.org/. Boby is doing great work. He provides the children in his program (most live in tents) with their only meal a day and with clothes. He is teaching the children sports and how to embrace the environment. He has a program that teaches them how to convert card board boxes into charcoal briquettes. My non profit (we teach orphans to become eco & self sufficient) is very supportive of Boby’s work and we are planning a trip to teach his kids how to grow a permaculture garden and bamboo which deters deforestation. Boby is struggling to feed all of these kids. I promised him I would show him how to grow nutritious rich food that will help his kids have a more balanced diet (specially the malnourished ones). FYI peanuts, chick peas and sesame seeds in particular are extremely nutritious and helpful for children with poor diets. The other Haitian non profit I have been following is Operation Green Leaves http://oglhaiti.com. I imagine there are other notable groups doing what they can to help haiti but these are the ones I have partnered with. I am looking forward to learning more about SOIL and their work in Haiti.

  • Mario Pretorius:

    Hi John

    Stock farmers here in South Africa are using holistic but high intensity grazing effectively, with 10 times more stock on the land AND restoring denuded and mono grass areas. Grazed areas are rested for up to 2 seasons, all grass are used non-selectively. The result is better coverage, biodiversity and restoration of savannah.

    I suspect that we’re missing a point only recently learned from the marine food chain, that more sharks pressure and stress the ecosystem, resulting in fish population increasing because of this predator pressure. Without the pressure, populations may not respond. Perhaps the same with grasslands, where stress and rest will do better than just rest. African herds always move on through the seasons, smaller animals ahead, followed laslly by buffalo and tree- destroying elephant. What is left in the summer grazing areas at winter’s end is burned by lightning, restored by the first rains, softer grasses eaten by the first arrivals, the smaller antelope, etc. our fences and hunting tolled the cycle.

    Allan Savory has a recent interesting talk on TED on using domestic herds to mimick herds for soil restoration:


  • Richard Boettner:

    I have been saying for a while that places like Haiti that still rely so much on wood as a fuel need help to move to a renewable form of energy – Biogas – because once there is no need for wood a fuel then the trees can come back, with some help. There is plenty of evidence that biogas can supply more than enough gas for three meals a day and some lighting at night all from human, animal poop and plant waste from the kitchen or the field. China and India give the most practical examples. I have tried to contact NGOs but all they are interested in is business as usual so their business model is not upset. I hope in letting you know that it can become implemented on a large scale so no one ever again has to cut down a tree for fuel.

    Richard – lover of Earth, she has so much to offer me and I can so little to give back

  • Martha Sanchez:

    Dear John D. Liu
    Today, Sunday 21 april/13 I met you and your job at the Loess plateau in China. I’m extremely pleased at the various responses throughout the world. For several years I have asked my readers, friends, family and neighbors to get involved, to cultivate food in their gardens or small pots. I know there are things done in México, in the State of Jalisco. I hope the number of people involved will increase very soon. I’m posting this website and Dr. Mercola’s article where one can see your documentary. Thank you every so much for your efforts. Hugs and blessings. Martha (Mexico City)

  • Doug Jones:


    Thank you for the important work you are doing. We will be comminicating with you good people to see if we can help on a parallel plane. I think it takes sustained effort on many levels to really kick things into gear. We’ll be working in our small ways behind the scenes to back you up.

    Doug Jones
    Roanoke, VA

  • Ti Landeng:

    Dear John,
    Like a bottle thrown ou to sea…
    How can you help a struggling people in a large degraded area, to reclaim their right to feed themselves and create whealth for their community?

    Please contact me via email. Ill tell you the whole story.

    Ti landeng

  • Dear Ti Landeng:

    I’m happy to help if I can.

    I don’t seem to have your email address because the site does not forward that to me.

    You can reach me however at: johnliu(at)eempc.org

    Feel free to contact me.

    Best regards,


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