Just prior to our arrival in Bauya last month on September 15, our third load of fresh pineapple was delivered and sold in the Freetown area. Upon our arrival to the site and an inspection of the farm, we made the difficult decision to cease harvesting, due to fruit spoilage. Our harvest window came and went very quickly for several reasons: all plants had been forced to ripen at the same time in preparation for a juicing harvest that was thwarted by the shutdown of the juicing processor; heavy rains made for a slow fresh market sellout; and government law does not allow Sunday markets. Some local “will call” markets absorbed many of the fruits, as did some of the people in the village. A small number of pineapples continue to ripen, but the quantity does not justify the cost of fuel or transportation to market. Sullay reports many are being given to school children, and some are being taken as gifts to people in the new community health office that opened in Bauya last month.
However, after the many struggles we faced with Ebola, new boots on the ground, and often limited access to information of plant status, it is heartening that many of our employees still want to be pineapple farmers. They have learned so much about the process of planting, maintaining, forcing and sales, that many are now clearing land for their own pineapple farms. We will provide them with the suckers from our crop to help them get started.
On our recent trip, we listened to security team members discuss business ideas they feel empowered to pursue now that their services are no longer needed as a Just Hope employee. At the end of September, Just Hope provided a severance package and other benefits to assist them in getting their businesses started. Joe and Sullay will remain Just Hope employees as they monitor, evaluate and support our past workers as they embark on developing their new careers. After three long, bittersweet days in Bauya, Ben and Phillip left the community in the hands of locals.