Tropical storms cause damage to EAB communities. The Atlantic hurricane season again inflicted the island of Hispañola, home to Haiti and the D.R., with severe damages and much loss of life. In mid-December, Tropical Storm Olga dumped nearly a foot of rain on the island, leading to at least 38 deaths, destroying more than 7,500 homes, and displacing more than 34,000 people. Please click here to read an English-language report on this tragedy, and here for a later article on the death toll. Olga arrived just six weeks after the devastation of Tropical Storm Noel.
While the communities of Franco Bido and Batey Libertad managed to escape the worst of the storms, they were not unscathed. Some farmers in Franco Bido lost up to fifty percent of their coffee crops. Batey Libertad lost electricity due to damages to light poles and generators, forcing households to resort to lamps and candles.
Subsequently in Batey Libertad, an accidental candle fire burned down a community house once built with EAB funds and collaboration. Two EAB scholarship students are members of the afflicted family. Fortunately, community residents were able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes, and assistance from EAB supporters as well as other friends of Batey Libertad has since allowed the family to replace many of their lost belongings.
1,000 Trees Planted in Batey Libertad! On two weekends in May and June 2007, Batey Libertad undertook an ambitious community response to global warming. In partial fulfillment of their service requirement, our scholarship students, together with other children and adults of the community, planted a total of 1,000 fruit and shade trees in and around the batey. The ill effects of climate change are most acutely felt in the world’s poorest nations, though they contribute least to the problem; inspired by a viewing of the film An Inconvenient Truth (with Spanish subtitles), our students are planting trees to absorb CO2 emissions, protect and preserve local rivers, and provide healthy fruit for all to share. The project’s ultimate goal is 10,000 planted trees by August 2008!
EAB Community Leader Visits US. From June 6-10, Felicia Puntiel, a coffee farmer and EAB collaborator from the Dominican community of Franco Bido, was inOmaha,Nebraska to raise awareness about the plight of coffee growers and support for our efforts to combat endemic poverty in her community. We thank all those who attended these events to hear her testimony and demonstrate concern for our Dominican sisters and brothers.
Coffee Harvest and Prospects. Felicia’s visit to the US coincided with the culmination of another year’s coffee harvest in Franco Bido. Production this year was at a slightly below-average level; prices were certainly below average, especially given the continued rise of fuel prices which have driven up all production costs. Even so, the community gives thanks, and holds out hope for a better future. To learn how Fair Trade certification could help realize this hope for coffee-growing communities such as Franco Bido, searchTransFair USA. For more information about bringing Fair Trade coffee to your community as a consumer, visit Equal Exchange.
Feast Day Celebration in Franco Bido. The community also culminated its Patronales (Feast Day celebration) of Nuestra Senora de Fatima on May 13th. The Patronales are a nine-day celebration of community events, dances, and religious services, honoring the patron saint of the local church. As always, the celebrations included many words of thanks to EAB partners, donors, and those friends of the community who have visited through the Pentecost Project.