Raymond is a community full of beauty and natural riches. It is also a community without running water, roads or cars, electricity, cellular connections, power lines, decent schools, medical centers or jobs.
The people of Raymond are not indigenous. They are forced everyday to go to the local towns down the mountain in search of foods that are not grown on the mountain, as well as services and other goods. Although they love their community, things are so hard that even the limited access to water and daily necessities can drive them away.
Children in the community come to the community school - the ones whose parents can't afford to send them down the mountain into a better school. But those who send them in to town for education suffer a price more than money. Children have two options in this case - either they take an hour and a half trip down the mountain to school each day and then an hour and a half back or they are sent to live with a relative or family friend in town. The first is very taxing on a child and affects their ability to learn. The second separates the child from their family (parents, grandparents and siblings) and can take an emotional toll on a young child. Because the only school in the community teaches up to 6th grade, this automatically encourages either dropping out of school or leaving. Facing the dire life on the mountain, some families flee as far as to the Dominican Republic with their children. In one instance, the school director's brother went to the Dominican Republic and contracted an illness, only to return and unfortunately die in his birth place.
Beyond education, there are other factors that carry members of the community away. When a woman becomes pregnant, there is no access to medical care. Although women in Haiti's rural communities tend to deliver in-home, if their home is far from roads, transportation and hospitals, this can make a woman decide to leave the community to be closer to medical care in case of emergency. Not to mention, the challenging terrain on foot to reach Raymond can be even more complex for an expecting mother.
Sustainability requires income source. Families in the community can sell products from the mountain, but they must leave very early, carrying their product on there heads or in their hands to head to the market. They must literally cross mountains on foot to reach the market and spend the entire day outside the community. They return very late in the afternoon, and their family is waiting for them to return with the food they were able to buy from their profits that day, and then wait the time it takes to prepare the food, leaving hungry bellies for most of the day. If they decide not to face that struggle for even one day, they will most likely go the day and night without eating a solid meal. So families can take the difficult decision to leave their community, families and homes and move to the city in search of work to provide for their own.
How does this exodus affect the community? Knowledge leaves, provision leaves, the future of the community leaves, the little resources of the community goes with those leaving. It cripples the community and leaves the elderly uncared for.
How does this migration affect the country as a whole? When locals from rural areas leave their homes they own (no matter how humble the home), leave their land, leave their families to flock to cities, they will now need to rent a place (at minimum, a room alone can cost close to $1000 per year as of 2020), they will need to pay for transportation to get around the city, and they will need to search for work - work that is not there. They will lose access to the food that grows on trees in the mountain. For example, a family of 4 may eat two or three avocados for breakfast when they lived in the mountains. They would just pick them straight from the tree for free. But in the city, they will need to pay to go to the market, pay to buy the avocados, and pay to get back home, costing around $2 - but they may work the whole day to earn that $2. The cities become more crowded, worsening the already-existing problems, and those who can't afford the costly demands of living in the city can end up homeless, erasing any dignity they may have had.
The situation is grave, but the future doesn't have to be. We want to help build up this community. We want to help families find a sustainable way of living. We want to assist them in creating a healthy learning environment where kids can have education beyond 6th grade. We want to provide knowledge and resources for the community to have a small health clinic for locals.
The community could greatly benefit from the smallest investments - building a public restroom facility, building concrete steps in the mountainside to make transport in the mountains easier and less time-consuming, helping farmers in the area produce more, and improving the paths that carry the product down the mountain to be sold.
We have heard from the community, and they want change. They are willing to participate and be an active agent for change. They don't want to leave. But they can't stay this way, and they don't have the resources and knowledge to do it alone.
If you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, bigger than your environment, meaningful and effective in bringing positive change to the community of Raymond, contact us today to find out how you can GO. GIVE. CHANGE. BE CHANGED.