I first became acquainted with the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE) in 2004 when I served on the board of directors of the American Bamboo Society, a non-profit organization. We received a proposal from ORE to propagate a large number of bamboo plants for distribution to the local farmers near Camp Perrin, Haiti. The ORE goal was to re-establish plants that might reduce erosion on the denuded hillsides of Haiti at the same time provide material for construction and crafts. For a modest sum from ABS, $2000 combined with the same amount from their own funds, ORE propagated over 2500 plants, instructed the local farmers on their planting and care, delivered a variety of bamboo plants of different species to local farmers and provided initial care.
The mission of ORE in Haiti has been to introduce and provide new food crops to the local farmers to improve their incomes as well as to introduce plants that are more nutritional. Within the immediate area of Camp Perrin they have been successful. Like the ancient parable, “feed a man a fish and you feed him for one day, teach a man to fish and you feed him a lifetime.” This is exactly what ORE is attempting to accomplish in Haiti.
Initially, I spoke and dealt with Mr. Finnigan, ORE president. His former wife, Dr. Mousson Pierre Finnigan, is a Haitian-born, French-educated medical doctor who has been involved in both the horticultural aspects of ORE as well as providing medical care for the area. Because of Mr. Finnigan’s recent health problems he has turned over the ORE authority to Dr. Mousson.
Since the earthquake struck Haiti, Dr. Mousson has been overwhelmed by families, particularly those with small children who have been and are continuing to flee the chaos in Port-au-Prince to find safety in Camp Perrin, about 100 miles west of the capital. The small agricultural station with its propagation sheds and plant facilities has been overwhelmed by the refugees and is struggling to feed, cloth and house over 9,000 evacuees. In particular Dr. Mousson is attempting to provide a more normal family life, provide for the education of the children and bring some desperate return to normalcy to these struggling survivors.
Here is an organization that has existed in Haiti for over 15 years, is staffed by Haitians, and has direct knowledge how best to help these struggling survivors, but has limited facilities. Moreover, these facilities were designed as an agricultural and plant propagation station, but are being utilized in an emergency situation. They are literally “boots on the ground” best available to bring help and a return to normalcy to these Haitian families. ORE desperately needs our immediate help in caring for these hundreds of refugee families with small children as well as returning to their agricultural objectives. ORE is attempting to accomplish so much in both short-term efforts in dealing with the earthquake emergency as well as the long-term agricultural goals for Haiti. These are desperate times, please help!