Our partners in Haiti recently had the opportunity to work with a fishing community to heal and preserve their livelihoods.
Recently, Medical Ambassadors Haiti (MAH) was asked for help from one of our local fishing communities. The issue was that the fishermen were using the same old fishing techniques that had been passed down through generations, but the number and size of fish caught had been insufficient for a long time.
They were looking for new techniques that would increase their catch as well as safeguard these fishing grounds for the future. Their goal was to provide food for their village and to sell the surplus in the city.
Mapping Out a New Future
On a typical day, the fishermen departed in their wooden rowboats around 3:00 in morning. After hours of rowing through an inlet and into the deep ocean waters, they pulled up their handmade baskets that sat a couple hundred feet down on the ocean floor.
They usually had around five fishing sites marked with plastic bottles that bobbed on the surface of the water. After pulling up each basket — all within a quarter mile radius — they would re-bait each trap with mango, oranges or whatever fruit was readily available.
The day ended around 3:00 p.m. after a lengthy row back to their village. It was already a long and exhausting journey to fish all day, but the limited results made it especially disheartening. Something had to change, so they requested our help.
Friends of MAH, Rick Hamilton and Dr. Elizabeth Fleming (community health facilitator and translator) traveled a great distance to provide a training for this community in February.
The fishermen understood that these newly taught techniques would require time and patience, especially as they waited to see an increase in fish population. The need for a fishing cooperative was discussed as they recognized the importance of maintaining and replacing gear, sharing supplies in the community, forming more productive relationships with local merchants, discussing the best ways for transporting fish to the city and educating other nearby villages.
After four days of education on conservation, preservation, and new fishing techniques, plans were mapped out and implemented.
The Hopeful, Ongoing Work
After three months, we are happy to report the fishermen brought back reports that the new techniques and devices are yielding great results!
Our director, Osse, said, “The people are very happy for the many large fish that they have started finding when they go out fishing.” Despite all the challenges we are facing during these times, God is still at work changing hearts and supplying needs.
This is the first step in an ongoing community development project in Haiti. We look forward to assisting them in helping this community to form a fishing cooperative. The real change is going to come through this co-op and the savings groups. The local team is developing new skills and learning other ways to implement the knowledge that they already have.
This initial fishing technique may prove to be beneficial in the long run, but it's the local trainers’ ability to train on micro-enterprise and savings groups, Osse’s experience in building co-ops and the power of the Holy Spirit that will bring about lasting change.
We love the opportunity to share these encouraging stories that are happening in Haiti. This is a wonderful reminder of how the Lord provides. Thank you for all you do in furthering the kingdom of God.