You might remember hearing a lot about micro-credit when Muhammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for establishing micro-credit programs in Bangladesh. Well, micro-credit also works in Haiti. The Micro Credit Facility is a very flexible form of help which provides loans to local entrepreneurs. Loans are based on the decision of the loan committee of the villagers, and should help the borrower make money while fulfilling an economic need in the local community. Most loans are under $100.
Food is a critical ingredient for reducing poverty
The Agriculture program is designed to assist people in making more productive use of their gardens. The vegetables and food from their gardens is the primary source of food for most of the villagers. The agriculture project provides hand tools, improved seeds, and instruction on more effective growing techniques.
Also, we provide “starter” animals so they can have goats, chickens, and pigs. These people can then feed their families and also have the potential to sell some of the fruits of their labors. An agronomist teaches agricultural skills including water conservation, goat farming, corn production, use of insect repelling plants, soil conservation, and compost heaps. During our trip in September ’06, several of the villagers reported they are able to grow twice as much food with the improved techniques.
Education provides hope for the future
When visiting Boileau in 2001, the Pilgrims saw a school which consisted of a tin roof supported by several poles.The students huddled under the tin roof trying to escape the sun’s heat and the rain.The priest asked for help.
St. Philip responded.The new, concrete block building, sized for 250 students (2001 expectation), was completed in 2003.The school now has 8 classrooms plus a small office and three multipurpose rooms, one of which is used for the lunchroom and embryonic library (total of 12 rooms). Since 2001, the number of students has doubled to 500.
But, once again, we learned that just having the building didn’t do the job.The doctor at the clinic told us that most of the children were so malnourished that they couldn’t learn. For many of the students, this is the only real meal of the day.They have asked us to help with lunches 5 days per week.We are hoping that we have enough money in 2008 to provide lunch all 5 school days.Since 2001, the number of students has doubled to 500.
There are 13 qualified teachers. They now have three pre-school groups, each led by two nannies.The school has classes from Kindergarten through 6th grade. During the past few years, all of the students graduating from the 6th grade passed the national tests.Providing some nutrition, along with the building, is making a difference!
The textbooks the children use are consumable which means the students write in them and they can only be used for one year. Very often parents can’t afford the nominal fee for their children’s books. When parents can’t pay for the children’s uniforms and books their children are denied the opportunity for an education.