“This is My Haiti” - Pierre Francois
“Hope for Haiti’s work is important because of the positive results,” notes Pierre Francois, Hope for Haiti’s Education Program Officer and Reforestation Agronomist. “When your presence produces a transformation in the communities, that means progress.”
Pierre sees progress in all of his work with Hope for Haiti. After starting as a translator with Hope for Haiti mission trips five years ago, Pierre proposed the organization build upon its Reforestation Program. “I always wanted to be an Agronomist, and I like that I have the ability to produce change in my work.” Now operating in two rural communities, the Reforestation Program is growing nurseries of both fruit-bearing and “hard” tree seedlings with a focus on sustainable development. “I wrote the budget for these Programs, and I’m proud of the methodology I’m using.”
The sustainable methodology includes involving students in environmental education through hands-on work in the nurseries. At the end of the school year, the nursery’s seedlings are gifted to their student caregivers, sold to local community members, and planted in areas the school directors identify as vulnerable to flash floods.
Education enabled Pierre within his own life. To become a successful Agronomist, “you need to focus on your studies.” The curriculum within Haiti includes 5 years of environmental studies courses, including topography, biology, chemistry, and irrigation. “Then, make sure you like it. You have to make many sacrifices. My work is really tiring. The place that we’re working is so far away. Everyday I am hiking, walking through the mud, even before I start working outdoors.” With the support of six local farmers employed by the Reforestation Program, the exhausting physical work offers concrete benefits. The nurseries have begun producing tomatoes, cabbages, eggplants, and bell peppers, which will all be used in the pilot school lunch programs.
Hunger is one of many problems impacting the rural poor in Haiti. However, Pierre remains hopeful. “This is my own country, and there are good resources. The Haitian people have capacity to do great things, but they are limited by the possibility as a poor country. They have the ability and potential to do everything.” The thirty-two year old husband, father, and avid soccer fan has also begun attending law school. “I hope to be a lawyer – that’s what I’m studying right now. I want to add a skill that I can use anywhere in the whole world. I’m not going to stop agronomy, though. Eventually, I’d like to complete a master’s on rural law, so that I can impact the environment in rural areas.”
The impact Pierre can have is enormous. “When I think of Hope for Haiti, I think of change. We add another perspective to the communities. There are more activities for people there, and that helps change the opinion of people outside the communities. I help add value, and I encourage the students to take responsibility for their own future.”