New feeding program launched for Haitian children
In the summer of 2011, GAiN looked into starting feeding programs at two rural schools in Haiti. They quickly learned that roughly 50% of the children at the schools did not eat daily. With the desire to see these children receive a daily meal, an agreement was made to help their local Haitian partner begin the initiative.
After assessing the needs for an efficient and sustainable feeding program, a new kitchen was built at the school in Desarme, which has 160 students and is about four hours northeast of Carrefour, and then fixed up the already-existing kitchen at the Taifer school, which has 200 students and is about an hour south of Carrefour.
In February, Lindsey Schacter, GAiN’s LIFE Teams Manager, visited the school in Taifer for the second time. She was encouraged as the feeding program was no longer in the planning phase. Instead, she had the privilege of seeing the renovated kitchen, meeting the local staff hired to run the program as well as interacting with the students.
“I was so thankful and humbled to be there on behalf of GAiN and our donors on the first day,” shares Schacter. After the formal kick-off for the first meal of the feeding program was given, the children cheered with excitement.
An instant buzz was in the air as the kids raced over to line up for the food. For girls like Darlene, who is 19 years-old and still in grade six, this was most likely her first meal of the day. Darlene was responsible for finding food each day for her family of 11. If she couldn’t find any food…then her family didn’t eat.
Many of these children live in difficult and often hopeless situations. Some of the parents are so poor that they can’t afford to feed their kids and won’t send their hungry children to school. Whereas other children, regardless if they have any food in their stomach, still walk several miles every day to get to school because they have a dream for their life and want to learn. However, after walking for an hour or so and with no food to replenish their energy, their education is usually affected.
In fact, one grade four teacher shared, “I realize that after ten o’clock in the morning the children have no energy left to learn and no matter how hard we try to retain the attention of the students, the kids don’t seem to listen or understand. For me…this feeding program needs to be implemented immediately.”
To ensure this program continues long-term, GAiN’s local partner is trying to raise money within the local church. Unfortunately, since Haiti is still considered one of the most impoverished countries, challenging individuals to give $5 per month is still difficult, especially when they are still picking up the pieces from the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010.
As all of the partners assess their future involvement, a container of approximately 1 million servings of nourishing soup mix from the Fraser Valley Gleaners in Abbotsford, BC., is being put together. Additional funding from supporters is also being considered since it only costs less than 75 cents to feed a hot meal per day to one of these students, which is only fifteen dollars a month!
“Children should not have to deal with this! Everyone involved just wants to provide the kids with crucial nutrients that they would not otherwise receive so that they could learn in school and achieve their aspirations in life,” comments Schacter.