Reforestation of our nine rural Haitian village partners is the mission of the Haiti Plunge's Project Oasis. It has been a part of the Haiti Plunge's mission for over 30 years.
Traditionally, Haitian people in our partner villages farm inherited patches of land passed down through generations and it becomes overworked. This overuse, and lack of foliage from clearing of trees for production of charcoal has caused erosion to be a constant problem. About 1% of the land is washed away annually. Reforestation success has been made through education as the focus. One of the greatest signs that the environment has gotten stronger is that birds and butterflies have started to return to the villages where reforestation efforts have been made.
Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. Haiti sits in the middle of hurricane ally and annually is bombarded with heavy rains and winds. Just last year, Hurricane Matthew caused a great amount of damage that maybe could have been prevented if proper tree and land coverage was available to maintain the integrity of the land and absorb excess flood waters. There seems to be no limit to the number of times a road will need repairs.
The name of our campaign is called Project Oasis. It is called this because of our hopes to reforest the rural Haitian landscape, one small patch at a time. Oftentimes when a team is completed with their project, the result looks like a small green escape from the harsh, dry and rugged Haitian terrain.
On each Haiti Plunge trip (about 10 days each) work is done to help reinforce the surrounding area to protect it from further deforestation and erosion. In the wet season this will mean planting as many trees as possible while the soil is in good condition for planting. In the dry season, teams will repair and reinforce the vital and fragile dirt road that leads into the mountains to prevent sink holes, landslides, and erosion.
Work areas are determined by village leaders, and by drivers who use the road frequently with vehicles. They know which areas are the most vulnerable. At the work site, people from the surrounding villages assist the Haiti Plunge team with the often back breaking work (picks and shovels are typically all the tools teams have available deep in the mountains). Haitians are able to learn from the Haiti Plunge new ways to protect and prevent their land from erosion. This is crucial as most people are farmers and rely on their farms for their livelihoods. The Haiti Plunge also learns from the Haitians how best to work the unfamiliar land and learn ways the Haitians have been caring for their land for generations.
A Roots and Shoots mini grant will assist with the purchasing of trees and other materials needed for this continuous project including cement and sandbags.