Happy World Food Day! Read Epherns’s Story – October 2023

October 16, 2023

Dear Friend,

The island of La Gonave, Haiti, lacks many basic necessities, including high-quality schools. To pursue higher education, young people are forced to leave the island and their families. Many never return because there is also a lack of traditional economic opportunities for highly educated professionals. This “brain drain” leaves La Gonave without many of its educated, trained professionals that could help develop and improve the island.

Epherns, 27 years old, was born and raised in La Gonave. Like many others, once he completed his initial schooling on the island, he left for Port-au-Prince, which contains 80% of Haiti’s higher education institutions, to study human development and sociology.

However, Epherns returned with a dream: to develop the agricultural sector in his home community through an organization he would call Koumbit Jaden, or Field Combat. He knew that communities already had the resources needed to make these changes—they just needed to mobilize them.

And through your support of Roots of Development, you made Epherns’s dream a reality.

After receiving a grant from Roots’ Haitian partner, Rasin Devlopman, for the project, Epherns mobilized the people of his hometown of Fontina to work together to develop the community’s agricultural practices. So far, Epherns has trained 20 farmers in agroecology, distributing seeds for homestead gardens to each; planted a small pilot farm that he uses to experiment with different techniques; and strengthened the capacities of six other small farms

In 2020, the poverty rate in Haiti exceeded 60%, 2/3 of whom are found in rural areas like La Gonave. In 2021, 4.3 million people, over40% of the population, were found to be under severe threat of starvation. Epherns, who himself lived in hunger and poverty throughout his childhood, was determined to contribute to his community and ensure a better present and future for La Gonave’s children.

“I chose this sector [agriculture] because I see in it the potential to solve the economic crisis of the country, particularly for thousands of peasants. I am the son of peasants. The choice of this sector is a testimony of my gratitude to where I come from” said Epherns.

Before he launched his organization, Epherns participated in capacity strengthening workshops with Roots’ Haitian partner, Rasin Devlopman. In addition to gaining crucial skills in social change, social entrepreneurship, partnership management, and community wellbeing, Epherns introduced his dream for Koumbit Jaden to Rasin, who then provided financial support for the project.

All of this was made possible by your generosity!

Epherns and his work serve as a perfect example of the power, potential, and necessity of local Haitian leadership. Due to your continued kindness, Roots of Development and our Haitian partner Rasin Devlopman are empowering the people of La Gonave to make crucial investments in and improvements to their island while relying on local resources and knowledge. La Gonave and Haiti are filled with people like Epherns—leaders with the knowledge and experience to sustainably improve their communities.

I invite you to join us at this year’s Annual DC Event on November 2nd, 2023. The Annual Event is our most important fundraiser of the year, helping us raise a large portion of the funds we send to support leaders like Epherns in Haiti. In addition to being a great way to contribute to our work, your ticket means a fun night of food, wine, music, and more at the beautiful District Winery in Southeast DC. Buy your ticket now at https://rootsofdevelopment.org/annualevent—we’re only two weeks away, so get yours now!


Chad Bissonnette

President & Cofounder

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