Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Wine Label Benefits Lambi Fund

After producing some of California’s most highly sought after cabernets from its vineyards on Sonoma Mountain for twenty years, Patrick Campbell of Laurel Glen Vineyards took an exploratory trip to Chile in 1995 and liked what he saw. Making limited production (and hence, relatively expensive) wine had its charms; but Campbell, whose lifetime fascination with Che Guevara reveals a stubborn egalitarian streak, yearned to produce a more populist wine. He realized that the Colchagua region, in the shadow of the mighty Andes, could produce a delicious and lively cabernet.

The result was Terra Rosa, which has gained a well deserved reputation for honesty, affordability, and environmentally conscious farming practices. While Patrick was searching the farther reaches of the Chilean and Argentine wine worlds, one of his daughters, Maia, was engaged in setting up legal mediation centers in the Guatemalan highlands, and through her work had encountered the Lambi Fund.
Patrick was intrigued. Why not draw on his Terra Rosa contacts to develop a wine that not only tastes good but does good? Patrick ran the idea past his old friend and business partner Tim Chegwidden, an economist with broad experience in the international wine trade. Tim was as excited as Patrick.
Thus was born Chévere, a modest contribution to wine lovers with a social conscience. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this rich and deep cabernet will be donated to the Lambi Fund to support their vital work. Salud! 2003 Chévere!
In the southeast corner of the Colchagua Valley lies one of the few actual hillside plantings in all of Chile; the 2003 Chévere! begins here on its steep and rocky slopes. While Chévere! is full with the soft and delicious texture we associate with Chilean cabernet, its higher level of color, tannin, and fruit concentration underscore its hillside origin. This is a delicious wine to serve with pastas, meats, pizza, robust cheeses, and with any other hearty foods. Purchase here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Information on the Kidnapping Incident

By the Lambi Fund Advisory Board and Haiti staff

Note: Some of you may have heard bits and pieces about an incident that happened to four Lambi Fund staff and board members in April. Here is a brief factual account of the events.

Every other year the Lambi Fund of Haiti (LFH) holds its annual board meeting in Haiti in different locations. On these occasions, LFH staff and board members that live in the US always have the opportunity to visit nearby LFH projects and meet with members of its partner organizations.

This year the meeting was scheduled to take place on April 14-18, in a seaside hotel on the Cote de Arcadins. LFH staff (both US and Haiti), directors of the board and advisory board members planned to visit four projects in the Artibonite Valley, one of the LFH’s geographic areas of project concentration.

LFH US staff and board members arrived in P-a-P on April 14. The LFH Haiti team met them at the airport and the group headed directly out of the capital on National Rd #1 in 3 rented cars.

On that road, specifically in Tamarinye after Bon Repos, a group of four armed bandits stopped the rented car. Inside the car were the LFH Haiti Project Director who was driving the car and four female staff and board members of LFH USA. The bandits blocked the road, held a gun to the LF Project Director’s head, made him get out of the car and then drove the car away with the four LFH USA staff and board members in the car.

The LFH Project Director immediately borrowed a phone and called the other LFH staff and board members that were ahead in the other two cars. After re-uniting, they analyzed the situation in order to determine what to do next.

Meanwhile, the bandits drove down a remote road with the four LFH women in the car they had stolen. After terrorizing them with cocked guns and deadly threats and taking all they owned --money, jewelry, laptops, and personal belongings-- the bandits released them on Blanchard Road in the Cul-de-Sac plain. They did, however, return the passports to their victims.

Local residents directed the kidnapping victims to a nearby church where they sought help. From there, they were able to phone LFH staff, who rescued them. The LFH Haiti staff found the four women a secure place to stay the night.

Crimes such as kidnapping and highway banditry are happening everywhere, at anytime and to anyone in Haiti now. In this context, we remain convinced that LFH was not specifically targeted in this attack. We also have no idea who the bandits were or if they claim any affiliations.

Lambi Fund takes this opportunity to thank everyone who aided them in this difficult situation: the staff of the church run by the Oblates in Blanchard, who gave them refuge and much consolation; the staff of the Faculty of Agronomy that permitted LFH members to gather at the faculty to discuss the incident and make decisions; and the Sisters of Hospice St Joseph who took in the Lambi Fund women in their place that night.

The goal of telling this story is to correct mis-interpretations and erroneous accounts regarding what happened. LFH staff received many solidarity calls, especially calls from organizations that LFH has supported. People asked Lambi Fund to not be discouraged…to continue the good work it is doing, to continue to support them. The Lambi Fund assures people it is continuing to support their struggle to obtain a better life for people in Haiti.

Letters of Solidarity

By Karen Ashmore, Executive Director

As one of the Lambi Fund of Haiti team that was kidnapped while traveling through Haiti, I want to say that although this was a terrifying incident, it in no way deterred my commitment to the struggle of the people in Haiti. We escaped with our lives when they released us with just the clothes on our backs on a remote rural road. But it was the grassroots people, the honest hard-working peasants of Haiti, who rescued us and delivered us to safety. Once again, the grassroots movement proved its strength in Haiti.

We returned to our homes in the U.S. traumatized, of course, but more committed than ever to the Lambi Fund of Haiti. This is because we were clearly reminded of the huge need that the Lambi Fund is filling. Kidnappings and murders by lawless people are increasing each day as Haiti struggles for democracy. As devastating as our kidnapping was, Haitians live with this fear and violence each and every day. And, unlike us, they cannot board an airplane and leave.

This is why the board members, the other staff, and I, although narrowly escaping death in Haiti, will continue to dedicate ourselves to the Lambi Fund. It is the best way we know to ensure that not one more person in Haiti dies of violence from the anti-democratic forces, of hunger, or of neglect.

We know that you, too, care about the people who are left behind, who have no option but to continue surviving and fighting to turn their country’s fate around. We know that you will share with us our delight in how the peasant-run projects that Lambi Fund supports are continuing to flourish. And we believe that you will keep funding our work, because the Lambi Fund is one of the best ways that you, as one who cares about Haiti, can help.

One of the most heartwarming aspects of this whole incident is the letter of solidarity I received from representatives of 18 peasant organizations in Haiti. I share this letter with you:

De: Organizasyon Rejyon Latibonit
From: Organizations from the Artibonite Region

Pou: Fon Lanbi
To: Lambi Fund

Objè: Lèt de solidarite
Re: Letter of Solidarity

Dat: 15 Avril 2005
Date: April 15, 2005

Zanmi kanmarad nou yo bonjou

Greetings to our comrades and friends,

Kijan nou ye? Eske nou repran moral nou?

How are you? Is your morale better now?

Nou menm òganizasyon patnè ki nan rejyon latibonit lan, nou te chita ansanm pa zòn pou nou te reflechi sou sak pase a. Dapre refleksyon nou yo, se yon aksidan ki rive, tankou sa abitye rive anpil nan manm nou yo sitou ti machann ki vwayaje Pòtoprens yo. Se ka ensekirite Global peyi a. Se vre se yon kou di pou LF pou chofè ki tap kondwi machin nan, lè li pa konnen ki bò yo fè ak kanmarad li yo. Sa yo pral fè ak yo. Se te pi di toujou pou kanmarad yo ki livre nan men kidnapè yo, kap sibi presyon, e yo pa konnen ki sò yo. Se te yon kou di tou, pou rès manm Lanbi yo, ki tap viv moman pak la tap rive. Bon Dye te la. Bagay yo pase jan yo pase a, konpliman pou Bon Dye.

Members of our partner organizations from the Artibonite sat down in our respective areas to reflect about what had happened. Based on our reflection this incident that occurred is what our members experience, especially the little market women who travel to Port-au-Prince. There is a global insecurity problem in Haiti. It is true it was a blow to Lambi Fund, especially to the driver who did not know what had happened to his colleagues and what their fate would be.

It was even harder for those kidnapped that were under pressure not knowing what their fate would be. It was a hard blow also for the other members of Lambi Fund who had to experience this with Easter around the corner. God was a witness and things happened as they did, thanks to God!

Nou menm ki se òganizasyon patnè LF travay nan latibonit lan nou endiye devan aksyon revòltan sa a, kòm pèp ki reve yon chanjman, kòm moun kap batay pou yon lòt sosyete, aksyon sa yo revòlte nou anpil e se konsekans move pratik politik ki trennen peyi a nan lawont ak desepsyon li twouve l la a.

The members of LF partner organizations in the Artibonite are indignant with regard to this revolting action; as people dreaming of change, as people struggling for a different kind of society, actions like this revolt us very much and are the consequence of bad political practices that drag our country down in the shame and deception it finds itself in today.

Zanmi nou yo kouraj, fòk nou kontinye lite pou chanjman reyèl la. Pa dekouraje òganizasyon baz yo makonnen fòs yo ak fòs pa nou pou n rive kwape fòs fè nwa yo bloke wout chanjman an. Kenbe pa lage!

Courage our friends because it is necessary that we continue to struggle for real change!

Do not get discouraged for we of the grassroots organizations join our forces with yours to overcome the forces of darkness that block the road to change. Keep the faith!





Friday, September 02, 2005

Rebuilding After Hurricane Jeanne

Many of you responded to last year’s pleas to help re-build communities destroyed by Hurricane Jeanne. Thanks to your support, thousands of Haitians are on the road to recovery! Here’s how you helped:

Collaborative Rebuilding.

First, the Lambi Fund staff met with the impacted organizations to determine together what was in most need of repair or replacement. Working collectively, peasant groups prioritized what needed to be done.

Jump started the bean planting season.

Several organizations decided to focus their efforts on an Emergency Bean Planting project to jump start the planting season. Beans grow quickly in the area and it was the upcoming season for beans. It was critical that the fields were sowed and planted immediately. The Lambi Fund helped organizations purchase seeds, tools and materials to push the process forward. Eight peasant organizations planted black, red and white beans and got a viable crop started immediately. The organizations successfully harvested and sold the bean crops at the local markets. During a recent meeting with the Lambi Fund staff, the farmers stressed the importance of this effort and gave credit to the Lambi Fund for saving their lives following the hurricane. With your help, hundreds of farmers reclaimed their hope for the future and support for their families.

Provided Working Capital to Market Women. Your support helped the market women from ten peasant organizations purchase anew their market goods lost in the floods. They were quickly able to resume their market activities. These small investments made huge impacts. At an organizational meeting, the women expressed their gratitude, “You helped us get back on our feet.”

Replaced Farm Animals.

Lambi Fund gave seven peasant organizations small grants to buy 50 female goats for those families that lost goats in the floods. Lambi also provided grants to buy two billy goats to improve breeding quality. Lambi Fund staff met with representatives of each of the organizations to strategically plan how to best purchase and distribute goats to the community members without problems. Three committees have formed in each area to supervise the operation.

Repaired Irrigation Canals.

Your support enabled the Lambi Fund to repair irrigation systems for three organizations, permitting groups to continue essential farming activities. One peasant organization encountered difficulties when a large international aid organization began repairing the irrigation canal that Lambi Fund had helped construct without consulting either the local peasant organization or the Lambi Fund. As a result, they began work on the irrigation canal with improper specifications. Community members’ concerns prompted a meeting between the Lambi Fund engineer and the aid a recent meeting with the Lambi Fund staff, the farmers stressed the importance of this effort and gave credit to the Lambi Fund for saving their lives following the hurricane. With your help, hundreds of farmers reclaimed their hope for the future and support for their families. Collaborative meeting Harvesting beans A small market in Haiti organization to develop the proper approach to the canal repairs. Working in tandem with the aid organization, the Lambi Fund staff negotiated an estimate using the proper specifications and work recently began under Lambi Fund supervision to repair the canal in the correct manner. This story makes a great case for the grassroots collaborative approach that the Lambi Fund uses in everything it does Repairs and rebuilding are still underway in ravaged parts of the Artibonite Valley. We will give you progress reports as time goes on.

Thank you Lambi Fund donors for making a difference for the Hurricane Jeanne victims in the Artibonite Valley! Special thanks go to Public Welfare Foundation, Share Our Strength, American Jewish World Service, Christ Church, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, First Data Western Union, Beyond Borders, Tides Foundation, Share Foundation, St Robert of Newminster Church, and Dougherty Foundation.