Rosalvo Blaise, Post-Hurricane Matthew Reforestation in Abricots

By Louino Robillard

After Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, we were all following the situation very closely, especially in the Grand Anse, which was one of the most affected areas. I had a good friend who had worked for a long time in that area, and she told me about an impressive group of young people who are part of a group called AJVPA in Abricots (in Grand Anse) who were responding to how the hurricane had devastated their community.

In Abricots, residents lost their lives, their homes, and their fields. And the town, which was once a model for reforestation in Haiti, lost almost all of their trees. AJVPA are a group of university students in medicine, environmental conservation, social work, and they were some of the first to respond in their community. I was put in touch with them and spoke to them over the phone often as soon as the phone lines were up and running again.

AJVPA has not only been thinking about and working to respond to the immediate emergency needs of the community, but also about the environmental consequences of the hurricane. Blaise and AJVPA want to create a tree nursery that can provide trees to local residents to help them reforest once they have addressed their immediate post-hurricane needs.

Their plan is to establish a tree nursery for saplings and seeds to grow to give to people throughout Abricots as a part of a local reforestation campaign. While the community may still be meeting their emergency needs now, by the time the trees are mature enough for planting, the community will be ready to think about restoring their environment.

I chose to award a flow fund grant to the group because they are kind of a model of the young people we want Haiti to have: young professionals who are dedicated to their community, are able to respond quickly in a disaster, and have the long-term vision for what’s best for their communities.