Search

The Haitian Community Land Trust

A community held in trust by the community for the community

In Haiti, our Crops are Growing and Our Communities Starting to Flourish

Over the past several months, we have seen various important developments. Folks within OASPKA have been solidifying their collective and community with a clinic, a school, and a women’s initiative. Thanks to the contributions we received from many of you, we have moved forward with a dedicated pilot project on one hectare of land! We have planted Banan, or plantains — 800 plants of them to be exact. The harvest awaits us in the first quarter of 2019. However, there is plenty of other happenings while we await winter.

Our work began in summer 2015, after the lives of hundreds of families of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic (DR) were jeopardized through the implementation of a series of laws that questioned the citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent and also targeted Haitian immigrants for deportation. At the time, many Haitian activists pointed out that if the deportation of Haitians could happen in the DR, it could happen anywhere. In recent months, the Trump administration stripped 59,000 Haitian immigrants of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS), ignoring evidence that Haiti is not yet ready to receive these families. Unless a lawsuit on that issue is successful, these families will have to leave the United States by July of 2019. Antihaitianism is an ongoing phenomenon, and we plan to continue fighting that with efforts to promote greater sustainability in Haiti!

As you may recall, in 2017 we were able to work with OASPKA to secure a land grant of 360 hectares of land. Thanks also to the donations we’ve received from our supporters, we were able to build a well and acquire a water pump so that crops could be irrigated. Infrastructure and water access are still greatly limiting in the nation; and a garden’s success is dependent on hydrated plants. Farmers must also be in good health to complete the agricultural demands needed for upkeeping their crops. Farmers on a global scale are typically a mistreated demographic, so our healthcare efforts coincide with our work.

OASPKA has a woman’s initiative as well. Women rights are central into what we do, and the women of this organization have created a network of vendors who sell various goods in the market. From rice, meat, salt, clothes, shoes, deodorant, lotion and so much more, the ladies of OASPKA have great experience in the market space. Many of the women in the organization used to sell in the markets of DR before they had to leave the nation; and are now getting work again within the northeast Haiti region. These women are working and finding more ways to build and grow their community. And in addition to agriculture, we are working with them to find other ways in which women can receive greater economic empowerment.

Much praise is due for Charitable Joachim, the organizer heading OASPKA and partnering with us at HCLT. For the past few years, Charitable has been quite intentional about not only the relationships built within their collective, but also the partnerships that have allowed this project to evolve so greatly. When he first started the organization OASPKA, he was constantly traveling between the countries of Haiti and The DR to connect with members on both sides of the island, build with neighboring organizations, and keep us informed with the happenings of the org via media. Currently, his family is now with him in Haiti as they try to find their sense of home again. This disenfranchised community is not only looking for income and work, but a home, school system and sense of structure that many often take for granted. Once again this work is important and we encourage folks to get involved.

We must remember the deportation, forced removal and fleeing of the DR effected many folks who spent most or all their lives in that nation. That was home; and that sense of stability was removed from many, especially children. During this untimely transitional phase, teachers made sure that these children’s education did not have to suffer as well. For over a year now, these children have been students at a facility. Educators have been working with no pay to provide academia for these children. Our contribution to this effort has been shipping supplies over — notebooks, pencils and other school essentials have been sent to these students to support their educational endeavors. Also, thanks to the donations we have received, during the past few months we have also been able to help 17 migrant families in the Dominican Republic to obtain birth certificates and other documents they needed to finalize their paperwork so that they could remain in the country without issue.

Who doesn’t love some banan?! We have started to see stalks sprout. There are many plants growing now such as green beans and moringa. The harvest for plantains will come in early 2019 and we are excited to see what opportunities this harvest can yield for this northeast Haitian community.

As far as what is occurring directly within Haitian Community Land Trust, we are launching events to continue gaining support and opportunities for community outreach. We are all working remotely between New York, Texas and Georgia, so keeping that same sense of community is more important and intentional. We are continuing to seek new partnerships, and would like to add two more members to our board. Once our initial pilot project comes to a complete cycle, we intend to seek institutional grants which will now be easier for us to acquire thanks to our official 501c3 status! Thank you all for your continued support! We are proud to say we are Haitians looking to help our fellow Haitian, and we welcome all to get involved! We want to encourage you to support agricultural work, even if by joining a local agricultural cooperative or community garden. As the Haitian proverb goes, “men anpil chay pa lou” — “many hands make the load lighter.”

Advertisements

Help Us Jump-start a Haitian Farming Community!

We have launched our first gofundme fundraiser. This initial campaign would allow us to fund an entire planting cycle in the first acre of land. This first cycle, as a pilot program of sorts, is crucial, as it will provide us with important steps to consider as we continue expanding our work. It will also provide us with invaluable experience that we can later use to present proposals for further funding. Please consider making a donation! 

land-trust

One Year Old and Several Steps Closer to our Mission in Haiti

Exactly one year ago, the idea of creating a transnational organization that would work to empower Haitian leaders in the Dominican Republic and help fulfill their vision of returning to a self-sustaining community in Haiti became a reality. After three of our members traveled toHaiti and met with the leaders of the  grassroots organization O.A.S.P.K.A., the Haitian Community Land Trust was established. Since then, thanks in part to the contributions we have received from friends who also believe in our mission, we have made important progress. We have submitted all paperwork in order to obtain 501c3 non-profit status in the United States and we have worked with the Haitian government to secure a land grant of 360 hectares locally. As we enter our second year of existence, we aim to continue to solidify ourorganization and hope to see more families live and thrive in Haiti. But we need you with us now more than ever!

Overcoming Challenges. Despite our successes, over the past year, we have also faced severalchallenges. While Haiti’s southern third received some media attention in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, some of the  O.A.S.P.K.A members, in the north of the Dominican Republic, were also affected by rains and floods. Also, much uncertainty still abounds regarding the legal and constitutional changes regarding citizenship that have been enforced in the Dominican Republic since the summer of 2015. Many people have lost their land, source of income and right to nationality. However, that has not continued to receive much media coverage. There is a greater narrative of Haiti which goes beyond tragedies; Haiti would benefit from more conversations about proactive initiatives that seek to promote greater sustainability. At the Haitian Community Land Trust, we are working to contribute to that story.

Local Partner Highlight. Our grassroots partner organization, O.A.S.P.K.A.,  has been mobilizing in northeast Haiti and throughout the Dominican Republic. They have had important achievements over the past year. Following the donation of a tractor to the organization from a church in the Dominican Republic, O.A.S.P.K.A. members have worked to repair it (image on the right).  This new addition has made their farming work more efficient. Some of the local members have also started to allocate a portion of their income from the sale of their produce at local markets to contribute to the effort.

People on the island and abroad (including us!) are inspired by O.A.S.P.K.A founder Charitable Joachim (wearing red shirt in the image below — image taken at one of the sites where we’ve been recently granted access to land!), as he has been working diligently to get this project off the ground, despite facing many challenges. We commend him for his dedication and fearlessness; we gladly continue to support him and O.A.S.P.K.A as a whole.

2017 and beyond. Haiti must become proactive, ensuring that the pearl is prepared for whatever nature throws her way. Looking at Hurricane Matthew, it is clear flooding is one of the nation’s biggest vulnerabilities, as evidenced by the great damage done in Jeremie and Las Cayes. However, there are ways to minimize it through proactive agricultural practices. O.A.S.P.K.A has structured their fields in a fashion that lessens flooding. With their methods, we can farm in a fashion that doesn’t involve high risk of crops being lost.

Building self-sufficiency in Haiti is pivotal. Farmers and market vendors within O.A.S.P.K.A are growing grains, fruit and vegetables.  As we enter this second year of support to local leaders, we will continue to work to increase the number of people who are able to benefit from ourefforts in Haiti, and we will continue to seek partnerships that will allow us to move closer toour goal of helping to establish thriving self-sustaining communities.

Be part of our work to continue to empower the members of these marginalized communities and consider making a donation today!  

We wish you a joyful and prosperous new year!

The HCLT Team

Haitian Refugee Crisis Largely Unnoticed

cropped-1795e4c8-b8ae-4047-9e5b-abf60303c467.jpgDear Friends,

As news of the refugee crisis in Europe has dominated the news these past few months, the Caribbean has been facing a refugee crisis of its own. Unfortunately, this crisis is one that has gone largely unnoticed and it needs to be revealed. Since 2015, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent have been deported from the Dominican Republic into Haiti. However, in many cases the Haitian government is not accepting the deportees as Haitian citizens. As a result, these individuals are being rendered stateless and lack a place to call home.

As of late, one of the ways in which the community has been marginalized by the Dominican government is through the issuance of migratory identification cards which mislabel Dominican-born individuals of Haitian descent as having been born in Haiti. As seen in this image submitted to us by a concerned community member, despite having a birth certificate that says they were born in the Dominican Republic, ID cards issued say they were born in Haiti. This misidentification could provide the Dominican government with “justification” to deport individuals from the country even though they have Domincan birth certificates.

Therefore, on the island, we have redoubled our efforts in helping our community partner OASPKA to become better organized to confront these challenges. We have done so by helping the 9 community leaders develop a strong communication network through which they can share in real-time what is occurring within their respective communities. This has empowered them to begin reporting on injustices that their communities are experiencing bi-nationally which has allowed us to help them identify possible solutions to address these issues. This in turn has initiated the community organizing process which is necessary to prepare the various communities for relocation to the land trust.

Beyond the island, we have expanded by adding two new members to our board of directors and are currently interviewing a 7th and final member to our team. The people who have joined us bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the group and have actively helped the organization move closer to our mission of developing an effective community land trust in Haiti.

So now you know where we stand, but how can you help? Let’s make some noise about the ongoing citizenship and migration crisis on the island! Many are still unaware of the situation and by shedding light on the matter we can help empower the disenfranchised. You can help our cause by joining our social media campaign as we raise awareness on the current situation. As mentioned in our first newsletter, we at the Haitian Community Land Trust are currently working to raise $50,000 in order to start phase 1 of our project, which entails purchasing initial parcels of land to be farmed as well as assisting the first group of families to relocate to the the property. By helping us in raising these funds, you will be contributing to an effort to provide hundreds of Haitian families that have been affected by this crisis with the opportunity to pursue safe and productive lives in Haiti. A donation of any amount will be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your support and contribution to this effort.

Sincerely,

Rebecca, Jean-Claude, Jean-Pierre, Perpétua, Charitable, Jheison and James
The Haitian Community Land Trust Team 

Standing Up to Violence Against Migrants and Refugees

A short, 18 second video is being shared by members of the Haitian diaspora across the Americas. In it, a young black man, purportedly Haitian, is brutally attacked by a mob of lighter-skinned men. At the beginning of the video, without hesitation, a man drives a large knife into the victim’s throat. Several cuts and bruises are already evident on the man’s body. In reaction to continued punches and attacks from the mob, the man rolls over in pain, revealing a large pool of blood on the ground. The video ends with the victim moribund, but still visibly alive. The hostile and gruesome scene, though, leaves viewers with the sensation that the victim was more than likely killed.

It is not entirely clear where exactly the video was recorded. However, accompanying messages from those who have shared it say that it was filmed in Brazil. The video, which emerged in recent days, has reached members of the Haitian diaspora as far as the Dominican Republic, Canada and the United States.

Activists across the diaspora are already mobilizing the resources at their disposition to investigate the source of this video and the whereabouts of the victim. However, according to accompanying messages, the attack was carried out against the man by anti-immigrant vigilantes. While the facts surrounding this violent incident remain unconfirmed, some Haitian immigrant communities are already perceiving this gruesome video as a threat against themselves. It is feared that the current political and economic instability in Brazil may trigger more violence against Haitian immigrants, who may be targeted as scapegoats for the current crisis.

Across the world, few topics have become as politicized as migration. The criminalization of migration combined with politically and economically unstable conditions place migrants in position of greater vulnerability, allowing vigilantes to justify the pursuit of what they may consider to be “justice.” Meanwhile, hundreds of families of Haitian descent continue to be subjected to conditions of constant fear, socioeconomic instability, and life-threatening danger.

On this World Refugee Day, it is important to recall that upwards of 3,000 Haitian people still reside in the make-shift camps in the Haitian border town of Anse-à-Pitre, which shares a border with the Dominican Republic. They fled from the Dominican Republic after June 17, 2015 out of fear of suffering violent deportations. Hundreds of families of Haitian descent still reside in the Dominican Republic in fear of facing deportation at a moment’s notice.  In the Bahamas, immigrant families also continue to face xenophobic government policies. Recent reports from the Mexican town of Tijuana, which shares a border with the United States, also document the presence of Haitian families who have migrated from Brazil after conditions for them deteriorated there; they have made it all the way to Tijuana after months of travel through dangerous passages across Central America, and they now hope to enter into the United States, where they hope to find more stable conditions, as well as the opportunity to work and send remittances to family members in Haiti.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0310.

Following the implementation of neoliberal policies which have largely undermined domestic agriculture in Haiti, thousands of people who were formerly able to work on their own land and sustain themselves from their own labor were forced to sell their small parcels of land and move to larger cities or migrate abroad. This is the plight that many black, Haitian people of impoverished backgrounds continue to face. Given the restrictive rules for migration, and the xenophobia impoverished, black Haitian people can encounter abroad, it is important that Haitian people who have been displaced for political and economic reasons are remembered by society at large, as well as by those who may be in positions to make decisions that affect the lives of people in Haiti and abroad. Haiti deserves a chance to thrive. On this World Refugee Day it is also important that we denounce the violence immigrants across the world continue to face. These acts of violence against people seeking liberation should not be tolerated. In solidarity, the least we can do is publicly express our own contempt of these violent acts that dehumanize people who migrate in pursuit of better living conditions. Let us respect and uphold humanity regardless of the artificial borders that seek to contain and divide us.

In Exile (NYTimes)

By JONATHAN M. KATZ

 

… “Last summer, people began to show up at the farmer’s mud-walled shack. They could speak Haitian Creole, but often with a Dominican accent. They said they had come from the Dominican Republic, where the government was planning to expel anyone of Haitian descent, by force if necessary. They told stories of vigilantes carrying machetes and axes. The threats reminded them of their grandparents’ stories of 1937, when Dominican soldiers massacred anyone living along the border they thought looked or sounded like a Haitian. “Every time there is a deportation, there is a massacre,” one refugee said.

The farmer said they could set up camp on his land. He figured they would move on or go back home soon. But the people didn’t move. More arrived every day. At bigger crossings farther north, many of the tens of thousands fleeing across the border went on to the Haitian interior. But in the far south, around Anse-à-Pitres, the chalky mountain roads are harder to cross, so the migrants set up camps just past the border.” …

Please click here to read this article in it’s entirety. 

pic

A New Start for Haitian Migrants in the Dominican Republic

The situation that many people of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic are currently facing is dire. Recent legal changes targeting impoverished Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent have led to the deportation of tens of thousands of people and has put the lives and futures of many in jeopardy.


In response to these stark realities, a group of concerned citizens of Haitian descent have started the Haitian Community Land Trust (HCLT), an organization dedicated to empowering impoverished Haitian people through ensuring Land Security, Community-Focused Economic Development, and Social Empowerment.

In December 2015, we officially partnered with OASKPA, a local community organization in the Dominican Republic established by Haitian immigrants in February of 2015. This organization now consists of approximately 5,000 refugees who are being affected by the crisis and are seeking repatriation into Haiti.

Jointly, our long-term goal is to support affected refugees by helping them establish a thriving community on over 110 contiguous acres of land that OASPKA has identified for sale in the North Department of Haiti. Our goal is to support this local vision by helping to relocate the refugees and by empowering them to gain stable living conditions in an agricultural setting, through which they will be able to derive sustenance and economic stability.

We seek to do this by first creating a land trust which will be held by the community and then establishing a community-owned farming cooperative. In order to ensure that this large-scale project is successful, we are taking a multi-phased approach that includes initially entering into a lease-to-own agreement for the land. This will allow us to start helping people to move to Haiti, to live on the land and begin initial agricultural production. The funds generated from the sale of the harvested products will be reinvested to develop the community and to purchase additional acres of land. This reinvestment will help expand refugee relocation and farming production.

Phase one of our plan is to lease approximately 3 acres of land, which will provide 16 families from the affected population with the opportunity to begin initial agricultural production, and setting the foundation for the entire community. For this initial phase, we are seeking $50,000 in contributions, which will allow us to build transitional homes, help the families relocate, and ensure the success and sustainability of this initial phase.

We are asking you to learn more about this cause and, more importantly, to become involved and contribute to this effort. Your contribution will not only help to assist 5,000 Haitian refugees, but it will help impoverished Haitian communities as they work to draw a path forward for themselves and for Haiti.

Our Local Partner in the DR – OASPKA

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0561.
OASKPA Members

OASPKA is a bi-national organization of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic established in Santiago, Dominican Republic, on February 2015. It is an acronym for the Haitian creole name “OGANIZASYON AYISYEN KISOTI SENDOMENG POU KONSTWI AYITI”. The name of the organization literally translates to “Haitian Organization that Left the Dominican Republic to Build Haiti.”

Members of the organization are located primarily in the north of the Dominican Republic, in Santiago, Puerto Plata, Montellano, Sosua, Los Cocos de Santiago, La Delgado, and San Francisco de Macoris. Some members of the organization are also currently in Haiti, primarily in the northern border city of Ouanaminthe, and in the community of San Fred, among others.

Slide1

In total, there are over 5,000 people who are part of this organization. They are families of Haitian immigrants, some with Dominican born children, who are seeking opportunities to live in a sustainable environment in Haiti.

Charitable Joachim, one of the founders of OASPKA, met Jheison Romain, one of the founders of HCLT, during the summer of 2015 while Jheison was carrying out research regarding the experiences of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The partnership between OASPKA and HCLT began in December of 2015.

Click here to meet the HCLT team.

Click here to contribute to our project.

The Crisis

There is a humanitarian crisis that is currently unfolding in the Dominican Republic. Unable to find work in Haiti, many Haitians have sought opportunities by migrating to the Dominican Republic. In 2013 the Dominican high court issued a ruling retroactively removing citizenship from anyone born to non-Dominican parents since 1929.  In 2014 The Dominican government passed a law giving unregistered Haitians until June 17 of 2015 to officially become residents; a 45-day grace period was given to complete the process. As a Human Rights Watch report released in July 2015 put it, “the law has been fraught with design and implementation flaws that have thwarted the re-nationalization process.” This has led to the implementation of policies that are violating the human and civil rights of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent.  Most of the Haitians were never formally registered with the Dominican authorities but many have lived decades in the country. Many had children in the Dominican Republic, who are now at risk of losing their right to Dominican citizenship. Recent legal changes have placed many Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent at risk of having their rights violated. Also, anti-Haitian sentiments have driven armed vigilantes to attack Haitians and Dominican of Haitian descent, bringing back memories of past violent tensions, which in the darkest point in the history between the two nations, in 1937, led to the parsley massacre, ordered by Dominican President Rafael Trujillo, in which approximately 20,000 Haitians were brutally massacred.

Click here for a recent update on this on-going crisis.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑