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Mina Remy's blog
By Mina Remy
January 7th, 2015
Since 2014 Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been stricken with the deadly Ebola virus. According to the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO), the virus has affected over 20,000 and killed nearly 8,000 people. The virus is expected to continue at epidemic proportions until the end of this year.
The outbreak first began in Guinea, and Guinea continues to be one of the most affected countries. Due to poor-to-non-existent public health infrastructure throughout the country, especially in rural areas, combating the virus has been an impossible task made worse by fear and distrust of the government and outsiders in local communities.
Farmers everywhere need certain things to thrive: Land, water, seeds, and a little help from the weather. But Palestinian farmers face relentless obstacles even to get to their fields, let alone irrigate them.
For almost a decade Grassroots International has supported the work of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in the West Bank. UAWC has been a key ally for Palestinian farmers exerting their right to farm in the face of settler violence, restricted access to farmland, confiscation of olive trees, and destruction of farms. In the videos below, UAWC farmers in two West Bank towns (Wadi Qana and Al Falamyeh) detail the many ways in which the Israeli occupation affect their livelihoods.
Women, and rural women in particular, are the backbone of Haiti and its economy. They farm, harvest, and transport their produce to local markets where they in turn sell it. They do all of this despite little-to-no support from the government and without the necessary agricultural infrastructure to ease their burden.
It’s hard to imagine that within the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) there’s one region that‘s even more contested than others, but there is: the Jordan Valley.
In this remarkable video, the Gaza branch of Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, documents the plight of fishers and farmers in the Gaza Strip. This video is a testament to Palestinians’ commitment to their land and livelihoods despite overwhelming Israeli military pressure to give up. Palestinian farmers and fishers continuously risk their lives by pursuing their craft amidst the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For them giving up their way of life, and a means to sustain their families, is not an option.
The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) faced one of the worst winter storms seen in decades last month. The West Bank experienced record snow fall, which municipalities were ill-equipped to handle. While Gaza was spared much of the snow, the Strip received a devastating wintry mix of freezing rain, strong winds, and bitter cold that paralyzed an area considered a humanitarian crisis long before the storm.
Haiti’s peasant movements are reforesting the countryside, building irrigation systems, feeding communities – just to name a few activites that are improving lives for rural communities across the nation. In the video below, members of Haiti’s Group of Four (G4) and the Dessalines Brigade describe how Haiti’s peasant movement connects with the struggle for food sovereignty in the United States, and globally. The video includes Grassroots International partners from Haiti and Brazil speaking at an Occupy the Food Prize rally on October 17, 2013 in Des Moines.
Haiti, like everywhere else, has a complex relationship with women. Women’s work in and out the home is invaluable, sometimes the difference between: eating or not, schooling or not, and medical care or not. The majority of Haitian households are headed by women who are divorced, widowed, or never married. These women are eking out a living by the skin of their teeth—resourceful in a resource-strapped world. But despite Haitian women’s contributions to society and economy, they remain trapped invarious levels of social and institutional discrimination. They face barriers to adequate housing, education, employment, and justice. On the whole, urban-based women fare a little better than rural-based women, but not by much.
The $10-billion proposed canal would divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in an effort to save the later from “environmental degradation.” The project is a partnership between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Grassroots International partners the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Stop the Wall are among the signatories to the statement below that calls for a halt to the project. Palestinian organizations cite both political and environmental reasons for their calls to stop this water and land grab that would impede Palestinian rights.
Strength through unity.
That is the motto on the Haitian flag, and it is being played out now in a new collaboration among the country’s leading social movements.
Each of the four largest Haitian peasant movements have storied histories individually and now collectively under the umbrella of the Group of Four (G4). In Kreyol the G4 is called “4 Je Kontre” or “4 Eyes Meet.”