Wood for Haiti Embodies the Spirit of Christmas

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:12/26/2011 Updated:01/05/2012

Great Idea, Great Need, Great Story, Great Time to Give

This the story of Wood for Haiti is one replete with serendipitous coincidences.  If you don’t believe in coincidence, perhaps it is the story of much greater hidden forces at work . . .

The current status of Wood for Haiti is cause for inspiration and hope.  “We currently have about 280 Haitian organizations representing an estimated 580,000 Haitians supporting the project,” explains Gary Funk of WFH.  "I typically receive five to six emails a day from Haiti,” says Gary.  “There’s been an incredible response down there.  For example, one woman walked seven hours to hear about what Wood for Haiti is doing!  Two of our Board members will be traveling along with me to Haiti in January 2012.  When things start to click you know you’re moving in the right direction.”

But even with endorsements from all three of the Montana Congressional delegation and natural reforestation processes that would benefit from dead tree removal, the project is still controversial.  “It’s the difference between a perception of reality and what is actually happening,” says Gary.  People on one side of the ‘beetle kill’ issue don’t want any management from the federal level because they know what happened before with forest clear cuts.  Forest management folks are saying ‘we don’t do that anymore!’  

“If something isn’t done with our forests,” warns Gary, “environmentalists are going to lose what they’re trying to save and so will the timber industry.  As of Feb 2011, over 7 million acres in Montana and Idaho have been killed by pine beetle and drought.  It’s really sad to see.  We want to work on this program aggressively, yes, but also thoughtfully and ecologically.  Another idea we have is to get involved with carbon sequestration, possibly collaborating with companies willing to pay for reforestation as carbon offsets.”

Great Political Traction, but Still Struggling

Wood for Haiti is now trying to obtain resources sufficient to build a prototype home and community center in Haiti.  “We have three different wood home designs and a community center design that have been created by an architect, structural engineer and builder, all experts on earthquake resistant construction,” Gary says enthusiastically.  “We also are working in collaboration with the people of Haiti - it’s a Haitian project, and our board won’t do anything without their blessing.  We have lumber mills that have pledged to donate about 4500 board feet of dimension lumber and plywood, and in addition, doors and windows and a truck with fuel have been pledged.

“I’m meeting with Cabinet members of the Governor of Montana to seek State support for the wood part of the program, which will produce 900 jobs per year for five years!  We are also working on a deal with the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation regarding approximately 10,000 logs recently pulled out of the Blackfoot River. The wood is really beautiful because the logs have been preserved underwater for 150 years.  I have a good friend who is working on setting up a meeting with Jimmy Carter.
“Members of our board in Haiti, led by Rony Blanc, Woody Bouilly, Pierre Alexis, and Patrick Jeudy, are friends with the new Prime Minister Garry Connille (and other members of his cabinet) - it’s a small country!  We’ve created quite remarkable political traction, but when it comes to raising funds and getting into the forest we’re still struggling."

That’s How Great the Need Is

“There are also questions about this from the Haitian end,” acknowledges Gary.  How do they know the wood will work well in this climate? How do they treat it? What if treated board ends are used as cooking fuel?  "None of these are unsolvable problems. We already know there is no possibility of bringing pine beetles into Haiti because processing strips the bark away and kiln-dries the wood."

Environmentalists in Haiti also say one of their primary needs is reforestation!  "I’d like to form a movement among the NGOs working in Haiti so that we don’t just build houses but sustainable communities.  As part of that process, we establish trade relations with Haiti to assist them in stopping the cycle of deforestation.  It’s ironic that we have mission creep before we’ve even been able to get seed money.  That’s how great the need is.”

The story of Wood for Haiti is one replete with serendipitous coincidences.  If you don’t believe in coincidence, perhaps it is the story of much greater hidden forces at work in the life of Gary Funk, Patrick Jeudy, and the many others involved with Wood for Haiti.  We at RFF felt it was only appropriate, at this season of giving, to provide our readers with a way to give.  If you like what Gary Funk is doing, consider donating to Wood for Haiti this holiday season or in the new year. 

And if you like what we’re doing, we welcome your donations as well!  

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Celebrate the Season and Best Wishes for a Prosperous New Year!


re: Wood for Haiti Embodies the Spirit of Christmas
By: Bouilly woody on: 01/05/2012

sinceremment je suis touche par cette initiative de WFH pour reconstruire HAITI, donc ami de partout fait un don a WFH pour qu'elle puisse demarrer ce projet, j'ai une forte certitude que quelque chose extraordinaire doit arriver a partir de ce projet. Merry chrismas !!!!