Myriam’s introduction to development work came as a Peace Corps Volunteer during a major drought in Niger, West Africa ('83-'85). She lived in a village without running water or electricity and was tasked with the job of conducting prenatal consultations and teaching nutrition to mothers. This was all well and good until the size of the village more than doubled from the influx of refugees who could not afford to buy food. The task fell to her to "find food !" She also found funds and constructed 8 hand dug concrete wells with fellow villagers. This experience profoundly influenced her perspective on "Development Work" and the vital role that sustainable income and livestock animals have on people living at the Base of the Economic Pyramid. She subsequently became a veterinarian, graduating from UC Davis, and a farmer with a strong focus on food and draught animals both here in the USA and in the Developing World.
Currently she runs a farm with her husband and two daughters in California. She is the Co-Executive Director and International Program Director for DG Educational Services, a non profit focusing on agricultural education in the US and in Lessor Developed Countries (LDC) and a Farmer to Farmer Volunteer in Haiti with Partners of the Americas.
As a Farmer to Farmer volunteer, she works as a catalyst in the development of a Haitian conceived and run agribusiness called Makouti Agro Enterprises. Makouti is a Haitian agricultural organization started by Benito Jasmin that unites farmers, allowing them to pool their resources to overcome obstacles. They are working together to build the meat rabbit industry from the small rural farmer up through export, strengthening agribusiness leadership and accountability, exploring and expanding potential markets in other agricultural products like honey bees, coffee, cacao, poly-culture farming, agrotourism, etc. and increasing the income potential of the over 6 million Haitian subsistence farmers.
Hunger alleviation can’t be solved with a single focused mission, which is why her consulting has taken her down many paths from shipping supplies, leadership and accountability training, liaison between villagers and US funders, to animal management and vet care. As a hybrid professional and a development practitioner, she strongly believes in helping the under served find their voice, define and share their desires, integrate globally, create sustainable positive evolutionary change and reinforcing collaborative networks to build sustainable foundations especially in agriculture. The creation of agricultural entrepreneurial opportunities is key to sustainable development. As much as possible she tries to avoid long term financial dependency on US funds and tries to focus these funds on initial set up, education and follow up through the learning curve stages of a project. Farming is not easy but it can put the power of development back into the hands of the village people.
Please feel free to contact her as she is always eager for more eye opening experiences and to share challenging brain storming exchanges with others interested in the development arena.