We have made the switch to serving local food instead of imported food for the school lunch program. This switch has been in the planning stages for two years. We have just begun and realize that there will be challenges and we will need to be prepared to make changes and adjustments.
We made the switch for several reasons. 1) keep the money in the local economy. We have been working with farmers to organize into an association to improve farming techniques and develop markets. 2) decentralize the responsibility of purchasing food. Previously one person was responsible for buying all of the food for our five schools spread over a wide area. This frequently meant delays and buying food in large quantities, Buying food in large quantities meant storage problems and problems with insects and rats.Buying in quantities also meant going to Port au Prince which meant additional transport cost. 3) Lack of variety.
We now have put the responsibility in the hands of the local school director. They work with the cooks and the teachers to create menus and purchase food. They are given a weekly budget of 17 HG, (25 US cents), per meal based on school attendance, number of teachers and cooks. We are monitoring by using reports.
From preliminary observation of one school, they purchased: Haitian rice black beans wheat corn pitimi oil spices fish bread oranges for juice tomato sauce spinach salt They also used doleaf (sp) from school property.
I will share more as we move forward.
January 20TH, 2017 We have been in Haiti for two weeks now. The first few days we spent getting moved back in to our apartment. When we leave we take our solar panels off the roof, and put away our stoves wash, tubs ect. Now we are quite used to getting set up but it is still time consuming. Our batteries are getting old and not holding a charge as they should so we are using the generator more often. While we were gone the bananas I am growing on the roof ripened so the ladies that worked for us ate them. They felt bad and offered to pay me for them. I told them I was gone so it was good they ate them, but I was sad I missed them. I was impressed they wanted to pay for them and considered this a sign of respect, not the entitlement attitude we have worked so hard to overcome. We met a man Bob Hood who works with a parish in the North last fall. He liked our philosophy of Haiti being a developing Nation and how we were working on sustainable projects. While we were in the US he contacted us and asked us to join him at his sister parish and meet with groups there to help implement some of our ideas. We joined him last week and spent four days there. We found the people in his area to be more educated and slightly better off as a whole. It only served to support our belief that education is the most important part of helping the people here. Lamont our friend from Port Au Prince and long time friend of Bob Hoods joined us and Bob Hood had a friend from the States Sue with him. There were four groups we met with. Many of the problems they discussed were the same problems people here face but they seemed better organized and more able to grasp the solutions. There were many good discussions and I hope everyone left with ideas to better our work here in Haiti. Another part of the reason for us to visit this area is Bob Hood and Lamont own some land that has a very large building on it. The building was built to produce water purifiers but went bankrupt before it could get established. There was another project in the building but they were not successful either. Lamont would like to use the building for projects to help the environment here in Haiti. It is exciting prospect, we know a man who would like to produce charcoal from the sugar cane stocks after the juice is removed, and of course Bob Fairchild wants to produce rocket stoves. These could be a good fit for the building. We will wait to see what the future holds. While in Tebo Lamont was contacted by a group of Seminarians and their professors from a protestant seminary in Chicago. They had traveled to town close to us and we went to visit them Saturday night they were very interesting. It was very nice to have an evening of stimulating conversations. The following day they joined us for Mass and then Bob and Lamont along with their driver went to Cape Haitian for the day. On Monday we traveled the six hours home making a detour to visit a bamboo project. Bob and I have been to this bamboo project before, but wanted Lamont to see it. It is really pretty amazing to see a forest of bamboo. The Taiwanese government has invested in the project and it is truly amazing. They produce bamboo furniture there, which the Haitian government buys, along with some individuals. After dropping Lamont off in Gonaives bus station we went to find our friend Maxo who had fallen from a Mango tree last summer while picking the fruit. He injured his spine and is now paralyzed from the waist down. While in the US, I brought his X-rays to a friend who is a physical therapist. He was able to get two back braces for Maxo that he thought would help him be more comfortable and enable him to be able to use a wheel chair. I tried the first one on him and it was not comfortable the second one he liked a lot and his smile was priceless. Maxo is very, very thin. While traveling we had stopped to buy food and my meal came with meat (I am a vegetarian) so we gave the meat to Maxo. It was very humbling that he made sure every member of his family got a piece. I was able to do some research in the US and found a hospital in the south of Haiti that has a wonderful rehab center for spinal cord injuries. I got contact information from Maxo and I am in prayer he will be accepted into their program. Please pray with me. Maxo is a young man with some education. He comes from our village, attended church each week and is a friend of ours. This rehab program deals with all aspects of being a paraplegic and even has job training component. It could truly make a huge difference in the quality of Maxo’s life. After leaving Maxo’s sisters house we then went to find a priest who was storing what we were told to be a box of medicine for Sr. Carmel the sister who is in charge of our dispensaries. Sr. Pat (who does not drive) gave me directions. The directions were close but not where we needed to be. The phone number we had was not correct. But after calling Sr. Pat we were able to get a hold of the priest and he came to meet us we followed him to where the box was being stored. It turned out to be more boxes than our truck could hold. It was a donation from food for the poor of medical supplies. That accomplished we headed for home. It was good to be back to our apartment with our friends here. We have spent the week in meetings, and more organization of our apartment. I am hoping to schedule another woman’s workshop this spring, we have found out the road to Kalbot is in even worse shape. This means for now we cannot take the truck up there. This will make planning the work shop and many other things more difficult. I am hoping to collaborate with the sisters on the workshop. Another important reason for us to travel to Kalabot is we received money to fix the sisters roof. This will entails hiring a contractor for the sisters. I am looking forward to a quiet weekend; friends are coming to visit on Sunday. We will deal with these problems next week. Thank you for your prayers and support, Denise
Our friend Maxo sitting up in his new back brace. Maxo fell out of a mango tree last August and crushed his spine. He has no use of his lower body and has been laying on a grass mat on this concrete floor ever since. Next we have a wheelchair for him and are trying to arrange rehabilitation therepy.
Quick update to all of our family and friends. We arrived safely in Garcin just before dark. We also have heard reports of problems, from Ft. Lauderdale to Jerimy and Port au Prince. So, please do not worry. Thank you all for your faithful support and prayers. Bob and Denise