On the way to market, Savane Real
The village of Savane Real sits perched high on a limestone ridge astride the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Not so long ago this rugged terrain was uninhabited, but in recent years population pressures on both sides of the border have led farmers further and further into the mountains in the quest to feed their families. Savane Real is one such recent settlement. Now it is home to 500 or so Dominican farmers and a more or less equal number of Haitian who work in their rocky fields. In the last year Plant With Purpose, an international Christian charity, has been working with farmers to improve crop yields and diversity the local economy through small business loans. Led by a highly skilled Haitian-Dominican staff, the team models the kind of healed relationships they hope to see in the community.
Though the fate of the two people is bound together, proximity has not led to peace. Tensions between the two groups are a part of life here, as people compete for scarce resources, over-farming hillsides and inadvertently destroying the fertility of the land. (The consequences of these practices were made grimly evident four years ago when rains triggered massive mudslides on the denuded slopes, killing 4,000 people as they slept in the valleys below; Haitians and Dominicans died in equal numbers. Over the past year there have been significant improvements in people lives and the two communities are gradually coming together; there is a lot to celebrate in Savane Real.