Woodstock group helps plant hope in Haiti
Organization aids in boosting agriculture after quake
A local organization, the Haitian People’s Support Project, co-founded by Terry Leroy and her husband, Pierre Leroy of Ulster County, is among several supported by local residents to help Haitians who were displaced and are still struggling after the 2010 earthquake. Terry poses with a painting by a Haitian artist.CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record
By James Nani
Published: 2:00 AM – 04/02/12
Plant by plant, dollar by dollar, those in our region continue to reach out to Haiti two years after a devastating earthquake in 2010 left tens of thousands dead and more injured and homeless.
Donations from Hudson Valley residents since last year have helped plant more than a quarter million “miracle plants” in Haiti — a tree known as the moringa that is coveted by humanitarian groups for its high nutrient content.
Since last year, The Haitian People’s Support Project, based in the Town of Woodstock, has raised money for, and helped plant, 300,000 moringas. Their goal is 400,000 every year. “The moringa is amazing,” said Terry Leroy, who’s been running the nonprofit with her husband, Pierre Leroy, for 22 years.
Much of the plant is edible, including seeds, pods and leaves. According to the group, the moringa has seven times the vitamin C of an orange, four times the vitamin A of a carrot, and twice the protein of yogurt. Plus, it grows like a weed.
“The organization has been sustained through the people of the Hudson Valley,” said Leroy. She said residents of the region have donated about $40,000 so far in the effort.
The reforestation project is aimed at providing nutrition, stability and work to Haitians, which, in recent years has been a particular need.
Other groups help, too
Reconstruction has been hindered on the island due to turmoil in the still-fragile government. In February, Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned because of conflicts with President Michel Martelly.
Last week, a United Nations official urged Haitian authorities to revive a reconstruction commission that was dissolved in October.The commission was in charge of coordinating rebuilding efforts after the earthquake. “It’s hard, because it’s all uncertain,” said Leroy, referring to Haiti’s political situation.
The foundation run by the Leroys isn’t the only organization reaching out to Haiti that’s supported by locals.
Carl Braunagel, owner of Aliton’s Pharmacy in Port Jervis, has donated medicine and medical supplies for church missions to Haiti through the Humbled Helping Ministry. He’s heading there, along with other nearby residents, on April 15 to assist in person.Braunagel said he was inspired to do more after a trip to Ghana. “We have no idea how lucky we are,” he said.
Middletown resident Maria Blon said Wings over Haiti has also helped since the earthquake by buying land, drilling for water and building a school. Blon said it’s easy to forget that Haiti is just a four-hour flight from New York. “What we found is that these non-governmental groups are making the difference,” said Blon.
Art sale in New Paltz to benefit Haitian People’s Support Project
Haiti’s new school of modern art is being exhibited in venues around the US and Latin America in a traveling show that landed in New Paltz last month. Currently hanging in the Cafeteria coffeehouse on Main Street are works by five well-known Haitian artists who represent FAPADEC, the National Haitian Artists’/Painters’ Association. Featured artists include Thebaud David, Myke Joseph Surpris, Osse Hermantin, Sonel Guerrier, Addmaster Exilas, Dorvil and Faustin, all of whom are teacher/volunteers at the art school Espwa Lavi Pou Timoun (ELT), Hope for Children’s Lives, located in a suburb of Port-au-Prince. Working collaboratively, they have put their murals on Haiti’s most famous nightspots, including the Olfson Hotel.
The art show is curated by local musician/music therapist/photographer Peter Crotty to benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project (HPSP), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the people of Haiti through existing grassroots, community-based projects there. Founded in Woodstock in 1990 by Pierre and Terry Leroy, HPSP backs sustainable living, nutritional and educational programs in farming communities, orphanages, schools and temporary shelters throughout Haiti. A massive reforestation project in Bois Neuf will help reforest Haiti and combat malnutrition. And of course, continuing efforts to assist survivors of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in and around Port-au-Prince are of primary importance.
Crotty and his partner Halle Kananack organized a tent collection at Mountain Jam last year to donate to HPSP for earthquake victims, and when they delivered the tents to the Leroys, they were impressed with the art hanging in the couple’s Woodstock home. With his experience organizing Fourth Saturdays in New Paltz and curating art shows for Jim Szetz during the Cafeteria’s past incarnation as the Muddy Cup, Crotty made arrangements there for this exhibit of works by the Haitian artists. All proceeds from sales are going to HPSP, making hot lunches and drinking water and other support services available to the impoverished students at ELT. Crotty and Kananack extend a heartfelt shout-out to Szetz for his generosity in hosting the show, and hope that the community comes in to appreciate the artwork and learn more about HPSP.
For more information about HPSP, visit haitiansupportproject.org or contact co-founder and director Terry Leroy at (845) 679-7320. For pricing information and other inquiries, please speak with Peter Crotty at (914) 213-0046 or email@example.com.
HPSP, with the help of a grant from La Cruz Habitat Protection Project and the assistance of the Lise Antoine Saint-Natus Foundation, has created a tree nursery in the village of Bois Neuf, just south of Saint Marc. Our goal is to plant 450,000 trees every year. One of the trees we are growing is the Morenga. This amazing species will provide lasting nourishment to the people we lend a helping hand to. We are expecting that in the near future, our tree nursery project will also give us an income to help support the children and families in our schools and orphanages.
EDUCATION The Lory Elementary School’s principal is preparing to demonstrate solar cooking possibilities to the staff and students using the newly donated solar cookers from the HPSP and Shash Broxson and friends from Fort Lauderdale.
POTABLE WATER Ten Jerrycans, life saving water purification systems, have been donated to schools and orphanages. HPSP board members Dr. Sue Cardona and Pierre Leroy delivered them. The donations came from Operation Blessing, a Better World company and HPSP. Beneficiaries are Lory Elementary School, La Creche Children’s Orphanage of Merger, Maison d’Espoir Orphanage of Gressier, Duval Children’s Orphanage, ELT Shelter and Art School in Petionville/Nerette, the Elementary/Trade School of Bois Neuf Community, and the tent camp of Champs de Mars in Port-au-Prince.
NEWLY FORMED PEASANT COOPERATIVE ACUSUD, in the south is modeled after ACUNORD. Dr. Jorema Francois presented a health seminar. HPSP’s volunteer secretary Melissa Melisien helped coordinate the effort. Most of the organizing efforts for ACUSUD are centered in the town of TiGwav.
Agronomists Emmanuel Dexta and Durand Dubreau began a survey and evaluation of properties owned by the ACUSUD cooperative. The purpose is for ACUSUD and HPSP to determine the type of economic and technical assistance needed. Through this process samples of seeds will be tested in TiGwav.
NEW ART PROGRAM HPSP volunteer artist, sculpture, and teacher Osee Hermantin, whom you might remember from his trip here last fall, has been teaching orphans in Croix des Bouquets, which is east of Port-au-Prince. This program will be expanded to other schools and shelters HPSP supports.
SEEDS AND INCUBATORS HPSP is currently seeking SEEDS — organic watermelon, tropical fruits, peas, beans and other vegetable seeds. These will be shipped to Haiti along with two incubators that were donated to us by Vassar College’s Haiti Project. The incubators require special shipping care. Monetary donations for this shipment would be much appreciated.