Interview with Sylvie Ouellet by Marie-Eve Homier

Violent political unrest, a powerful tropical storm, disastrous floods… Many days of mourning have brought sadness to Haiti’s bicentennial year. Although some foreign countries generously responded to its distress calls, reconstruction remains an enormous challenge because the natural disasters worsened an already precarious situation. Well beyond the emergency of the first weeks, humanitarian aid continues to focus on people’s lives, security and mostly their dignity in order to help them take their destiny in hand again. That’s why Oxfam-Québec coopérant in Haiti Sylvie Ouellet decided to be there.

 

Sylvie has been involved for nearly four years now with many humanitarian aid projects in Haiti. Her most recent one concerns soil decontamination by natural means. She has developed a simple yet strikingly effective philosophy: feed the earth and the earth will feed its people. “If you were to see your mother homeless and indigent, what would you do? Give her clothing! Protect her, of course! It’s the same thing with the nourishing earth. It is our mother. It too needs to be fed and protected.” Assisted by an agronomist and an instructor, Sylvie demonstrated soil fertilisation with “green fertilizers” (natural fertilizers) in a community garden. They offered training, which generated a feeling of belonging among the group. “When they realise that all this is for them, they become motivated to work and the project’s participation rate goes up.” […]

 

(MIC Mission News, January-February-March 2005, p.16-18)