For 19 years Productive Cooperatives Haiti (pcH), our partner in Haiti, has been working with three cooperatives in Fon Batis. So when David Barth and Farrah Ali-Khan arrived in Fon Batis, they noticed a striking difference from Duchity with its relatively new cooperatives.
The vision members had for their cooperatives was noticeably different. Most Duchity members voiced a short-term goal; they simply wanted a physical location to meet. In Fon Batis they already have a physical location to meet. So the president of one coop expressed his desire to see the cooperative grow into an enterprise. Their years of experience developing harmony and unity in the cooperative made this long term goal possible.
Fon Batis’ experience shows the many benefits possible by having cooperatives active in a community. Many signs of progress are visible such as years ago people had thatch roofs and now they all have metal tin roofs.
The greatest change is the structure introduced to the community through the leadership of the cooperatives. One important result is a reduction in violence. For example, conflict in the community is now resolved with the help of mediators.
While few children went to school when the cooperatives formed, there are now six schools because more parents see its value. For example despite always wanting his children to go to school, Rene Isiah of the Dupont Cooperative didn’t until he was a part of the cooperative. His experience as a member encouraged him to send them to school more. He reasoned that if the cooperative’s leaders had attended school that with education his children can become leaders.
The environment and people’s quality of life have improved as coop members have reduced slash and burn agriculture practices as they have transition to using compost and natural pest management. We were pleased to learn that funds from World Accord had been used to purchase seeds to grow vegetables such as spinach and leeks.
Rene Jean Claude of the Dupont Cooperative shared that his family’s health has improved because they are now eating better food. He also has more money by producing enough to sell.
What amazing achievements! They show how supporting cooperatives improves the lives of people and their community.
The example of Fon Batis gives hope and inspiration to other areas such as Duchity whose cooperatives are just getting started.