The following blog post comes from Katyana André, Haitian-American businesswoman and first-time Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, who writes about her past two weeks in Haiti:
Haiti: An experience that is overwhelming, while also being deeply profound. Moreover, it is an opportunity to connect with an incredible group of people. And, in my case, it was an occasion to reconnect to my roots on a deeper level. What has captured me so far is that the people of Haiti possess a great sense of courage and tenacity for life that I have not seen anywhere else. A part of a culture, already my own, which I unfortunately had forgotten even existed. Farmer-to-Farmer made it possible for me to find it again.
Elaborating on how I operate my own small business (Madame Sara) and being a Haitian-American woman who also speaks Creole, has allowed me to better relate to farmers and helped me to make them feel more comfortable with me. Coffee farmers in this area have limited business skills and little understanding of the kind of market for which they are producing, or the importance of servicing on a consistent basis a fast-paced market like the U.S one for instance. Many of my meetings/trainings have involved teaching farmers business/marketing tools and strategies necessary to build any business. Topics include understanding a market, and understanding how to create and meet demand, on both the domestic and international scales. Through the efforts of Farmer-to-Farmer and Makouti, farmers are coming to understand that for example, quality coffee is what the international market is interested in, bottom line and it is the market which will offer them the most benefits anyway.
|Producer identifying next steps in building a better future for coffee|
I believe that as a Haitian-American, this has been a well-needed experience not only to remind myself of who I am but also to help others in knowing that the world is much larger than we have made it, and, find a true sense of purpose.
Katyana C. André
Katyana C. André