The first time I hiked Mon Sejou was with Francklin, one of MCC’s agroforestry program managers.
It was the height of the dry season. Grasses crunched underfoot as we hiked up the firebreak that protects Mon Sejou’s fledgling forest from the seasonal wildfires that whip through the parched Haitian hills.
As we crested the ridge and descended into the grove of 3-year-old trees that already reach several feet above our heads, Franklin stopped me for a moment, gesturing for silence.
“Chi-chiri!” he trilled. After a moment, a bird nearby warbled its answer. Another responded further down the hill.
“You see? The birds have returned. When there were no trees, these hills were silent.”
Francklin’s work in Mon Sejou consists of supporting a community organization that is responsible for mobilizing local support for reforesting the mountain. They operate tree nurseries and carry out outreach to help neighbors understand the economic and environmental benefits of planting and caring for trees.
These pictures are from last year’s World Environment Day celebration, an annual event celebrated on June 5 in which community members come together for a massive tree planting effort on the slopes of the mountain. A parade begins in town and winds up the rocky road, down into a gully and back up the steep slopes of Mon Sejou. Everyone in the procession carries a tree seedling (or a whole flat of seedlings), singing songs as they walk up the mountain to honor the growing forest.
Below, ever-enthusiastic MCC Desarmes program coordinator Jean Rémy encourages tree-planters toward the end of the celebration, as the sun climbs higher.
This year, instead of celebrating World Environment Day with Francklin, the MCC team in Desarmes, and the Mon Sejou community organizers, I’m on my way to Guatemala! I have an MCC meeting with colleagues from around Latin America who also work in the global service learning program. I’m also retracing the very first steps of my Watson fellowship journey in 2010, and am doing some interviews and research on effective training strategies for talented artisans with low levels of literacy and numeracy.
But I still wanted to share a few of the photos I took last year, lest everyone forgot about this blog (I nearly did).
Happy World Environment Day!