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Haiti: Mothers provide leadership to listening campaign in the Northeast

“When we listen, people can name the solution to their problem. When we act together, we can change our community.”  –Marie Saint Fluer, mother, educator and OPODNE leader

Twenty years ago, Marie Saint Fluer moved from Southern Haiti to an isolated mountain village called Mombin Crochu in the Northeast where she raised her family and led the local public school to national recognition. When OPODNE was founded, she anchored the organizing effort and her school was the place where hundreds of farm families gathered every month to share their struggles to buy seeds, plant crops, and get their produce to market because roads were so bad. In response, the community established a micro-lending program, rebuilt roads, and organized a childcare coop on market days. Because of her leadership, members elected Marie as the OPODNE Vice President.

At board meetings, Marie learned from OPODNE leaders that farmers across the Northeast Department were struggling with the same problems as farmers in Mombin. Knowing a systemic approach was needed, she worked with Florcie Tyrell and OPODNE staff and leaders to launch a broad outreach campaign designed to document and analyze the needs of farmers. By the end of May, Marie and OPODNE staff had conducted more than 4,400 surveys with farm families and held local meetings with 800 leaders.

Over the next two months, Marie and OPODNE leaders will develop recommendations for needed policy changes and return to local communities to vote on priorities. In August, hundreds of farmers will gather in a department-wide assembly and present these policy priorities to local mayors, departmental ministers, USAID and other investors for action. Marie Saint Fluer expects to be elected as OPODNE President at this assembly and help guide the organization’s efforts to implement these policies so that Haitian farmers can once again feed their own families and begin to feed the country.

Marie is one among hundreds of powerful mothers bringing life and hope to Haiti.

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