WASHINGTON, D.C. – Knowing how difficult it is to recover from a cataclysm, small farmers in Haiti pooled together what little they had to raise $150 for fellow farmers in the Philippines who were among the more than 10 million Filipinos displaced recently by Typhoon Haiyan.
In his report to Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., the Philippine Honorary Consul in Haiti, Fitzgerald Brandt, said the kindhearted farmers belong to the Smallholder Farmers Alliance based in Gonaives in the northern part of Haiti who were themselves victims of Hurricane Sandy last year.
“These farmers are very poor, but the gesture from country to country, from farmer to farmer, from human to human, is 1,000,000 times stronger than the actual amount of the transaction,” Honorary Consul Brandt said. “In this planet full of not so good news, such gestures are priceless.”
Ambassador Cuisia said Filipino farmers were badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which dealt more than P17 billion in losses to the agriculture sector during its violent rampage across the Central Philippines last month.
“The Filipino people truly appreciate the kind gesture of farmers in Haiti who went out of their way to extend a helping hand to their fellow farmers in the Philippines,” said Ambassador Cuisia. “Our people will always remember this.”
The President and Co-Founder of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, Hugh Locke, said the initiative was inspired by the assistance from around the world that was extended to small farmers in Haiti to help them recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
“It was to honor the support we received at that time that our farmers, who have firsthand experience of what it is to suffer from storms like Typhoon Haiyan, wanted to reach out to their counterparts in the Philippines, ” said Locke.
Eliette Pierre, a local farm leader and member of the alliance said: “We were very sad to hear that many farmers in the Philippines are suffering. We want to tell all of you that the farmers here are praying for you and we are also sending a donation to help you recover from the storm damage.”
Locke said the farmers asked Joan Bao-In, a Filipina serving with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) who was then visiting from the capital, Port-au-Prince, at that time, to turn over their donation to the GMA Kapuso Foundation in Manila.
For the Philippines, the gesture has added importance, according to Ambassador Cuisia. He said Filipino military and police peacekeepers were among the first on the ground after the United Nations stepped in to help restore peace and stability in Haiti in 2004.
Ambassador Cuisia said more than 150 officers and personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to serve as the Force Headquarters Protection Unit of MINUSTAH in Port-au-Prince.
In 2010, the Philippines deployed who a medical mission to Haiti in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, killing an estimated 50,000, including four Filipino peacekeepers. ###