on Lagonav is spare and hard. Poverty forces deforestation that ruins
the balance of nature, eroding away the topsoil - which in turn washes
down to the sea killing off edible fish. The village of Matènwa
has survived for generations by farming small family plots and slowly
turning trees into charcoal for sale.
and children travel miles to collect precious water from a scattering
of mountain springs. It becomes more and more difficult to survive by
doing things the old ways in a region largely abandoned by the Haitian
government. There is a constant struggle to afford rice, fuel and medicine.
who do much of the labor and child-raising, battle to keep their families
fed, often depending on other family members, or men who have less work
as traditional farming methods fail.
years ago the director of the local school together with an American
artist tried to find a way to tap the great creativity of the women
of Matènwa, focusing on something the women could enjoy making
to sell. The goal was to encourage self-respect and independence using
new methods of self-sufficiency - without rocking a fragile balance
by using up limited natural resources like firewood and water.