Agriculture and Livestock Project Update

The seeds you provided are growing tomatoes and cabbage and beans and corn. Families have food and can even take a little “to market” for a small cash crop. The emergency relief food you provided sustained the villagers through the initial earthquake crisis.  The seeds and tools and agriculture training provide the start of a sustainable source of food. The recent report submitted by, Jean Robert, the man who coordinates the Agriculture and Livestock program confirms continuing progress, as well as the ongoing challenges.

The recent funding was used to purchase shovels, hoes, machetes, pitchforks, and rakes.  These were instantly put to use.  We’ve purchased similar tools in the past, but the need to share each between several villagers is a problem.  It’s a huge improvement for everyone as we reduce the number of villagers who have to share each rake.

The recent funding also produced a couple milestones: purchase of a cart and an irrigation pump.  These represent a huge step forward – both in the capabilities they provide and in the symbolic initiative. Individually they might each have only a half dozen tomatoes or cabbages or small amounts of beans.  It was not feasible for each to take small amounts to the local market.  They can now aggregate these small quantities and take a cart-load to market.  The irrigation pump is a statement that they will not be passive victims; they are becoming assertive in changing the environment. They are taking the initiative to start community collaboration to do things which have not been possible as individuals. Although this irrigation pump will only help a few, it is a start.  Of course, they realize they can’t purchase the irrigation pumps by themselves, they will need our help.

Several more families now have a start on raising livestock.  Six seems to be the magic number in the purchase of starter livestock.  The recent report states that they purchased six cows, six sheep, and six goats.  They have also place orders for a half dozen piglets, but delivery is delayed while they search for a healthier and more robust breed.  The previously purchased piglets were susceptible to disease.  The plan to purchase a bull is also adjusted.  They want to make certain that they are getting a strong and healthy genetic bull since the whole village will be depending on it. Therefore, the plan is to purchase stud service until the genetic quality is confirmed.

Jean Robert reports that there are at least 38 more families who have applied for livestock, but we don’t yet have the funds to purchase starter livestock.

For continuing training, Jean Robert is using a combination of group classes and individual “tutoring”.   He is conducting quarterly meetings which provide a combination of expert training by an agronomist as well as sharing among hemselves to helpful experience. While the agronomist training is important by providing improved insights into composting and fertilizers and irrigation, the sharing with each other is gradually building a sense of teamwork and collaboration which improves the whole village.

The Haitian Pilgrim Program for 2010

As the opening message of this web site explains, the Haitian Pilgrims have worked towards helping the village of Boileau, Haiti become self-sustaining. For the last decade we have helped them help themselves through education, micro-credit, agriculture training, medicine, and wells for clean water. The parishioners of St.
Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Lewisville, Texas have supported this effort through significant contributions and fund raising events.

When the earthquake hit in January we all knew we wanted to do more for the Haitians, but in what way? It was quickly agreed that our immediate action would be Emergency Earthquake Relief.

The Earthquake Emergency Relief – From St. Philip was used for:
– food and water – 50%
– medical help (doctors and medicine) -30%
– housing -20%

Haitian Pilgrims used our contacts in Haiti to channel the funds only to organizations:
-who promised 100% would be used for Haiti Earthquake Relief
-who we had worked with in Haiti before the Earthquake – in place and experienced

St. Philip contributed $75,000 to Emergency Earthquake Relief. Because of a visit in April and the close communication we’ve had since January, the Haitian Pilgrims are certain that those funds have been effectively used for the intended purposes. And, once again, 100% of all donations reach Haiti since all the work is done by volunteers: there are no administrative expenses.

But where does this leave us 6 months later??

Our brothers and sisters of St. Therese’s parish in Boileau, Haiti continue to be in desperate need of our prayers, financial support, and partnership. They were indeed very blessed that their village was spared the physical destruction caused by the massive earthquake. However, as foretold in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” … If you build it they will come. Many victims of the earthquake have come to Boileau for medical care, education, and a safe place to live. How wonderful that our facilities were blessedly saved so that we could continue to help others and our opportunity to help the poorest of the poor has grown significantly. We must continue to help them help themselves. Going forward, donations and gifts will be used to fund the projects in the village of Boileau.

Education: approximately 30% of assistance
Funds raised will provide the school with the ability to educate the growing number of children in Boileau, many of whom were displaced by the earthquake:

– school has grown from 200 to 625 students over the past 7 years;
– approximately 150 earthquake refugee students
– about 275-300 students from Boileau who could not afford to attend before
– added 3 class levels; have gone from K-7th to K-10th grades
– doubled the number of students continuing past 5th grade (previously, about 75% of students dropped out of school at 4th or 5th grades due to high cost of books and need for children to help at home)
-100% of the students passed the national tests – good quality teaching (within Haitian context)
– added a computer introduction class to start teaching the basics using the laptops donated by St. Philip parishioners. (Teaching what’s a mouse, monitor, document, program, etc. Do not have Internet access.)
– provide school lunch “as often as the funds allow”

Medical Care / Clinic: approximately 30% of assistance

– medicine and other medical supplies
– salaries for doctor and clinic staff (lab technicians, nurses)
– fuel for generator to run medical and diagnostic equipment (e.g. electronic microscope)

Agriculture / Livestock: approximately 20% of assistance
We will provide agricultural support so the farmers can continue to recover from the losses they experienced in previous hurricanes. They will receive seed, seedling plants, and animals such as chickens, goats, piglets, and if at all possible, a cow or bull.

– help to improve amount of food their gardens can produce
– training in planting, fertilizers, and irrigation
– seeds & seedlings, tools
– livestock – such as goats, lambs, and pigs; also have now advanced to cows for milk and meat

Micro-credit and Community Development: approximately 20% of assistance
Growth-Our micro-credit program continues to teach people of Boileau how to create a new business, manage its success, and become financially independent. At any given time, 150 people are receiving funding to start a new business, and coaching to enable their success.

-community development is encouraging the village to plan and act in a coordinate fashion; they are now able to think about a future

Although the Haitian Pilgrims continue to ask the good folks of St. Phillip, and others, to assist the financing of the Boileau project, our most significant request is for your continued prayers that our Lord blesses the people of Haiti as their daily struggle to survive continues. Thank you.

Updated report from Haiti

We are receiving good reports from the team in Boileau.

Very little detail has been supplied this early in their visit. Similar to road conditions they found between Port au Prince and Les Cayes, they found significant road damage as they entered Boileau. (You should understand that what Boileau calls a road is a dirt trail which crosses a creek where it is normally 6 inches deep.) The small stream is now a small, albeit fast current river! The gradual decline that gently led us across the river is now a five foot cliff. Wind, rain and hurricanes have combined to bring erosion to Boileau which has completely isolated the village – all vehicle access is cutoff. Everything must be brought in by human ingenuity and foot power.

Two members of the team spent Monday at the Clinic where they first delivered donations of medical and lab testing supplies. They worked to understand every aspect of the patients and how they are welcomed and treated, the Clinic’s staff, the building, the lab instruments, other necessary “tools” and the supply of medications. As time allowed they talked with the staff about their current challenges and future needs. Although positive, this early report does not include any details relative to future needs and possible adjustments.

Two other travelers met with Charlemagne, the long time Director of the elementary school. They were pleased to hear that the school is doing very well and many of the students are graduating with certification. The state has just declared that in order for a student to earn certification they will have to complete the 7th grade and pass an assessment exam. That is tighter than today’s standards where a child can complete the 5th grade and pass an assessment exam in order to receive their education certificate. All schools must comply with this new rule or they will not be allowed to provide completion certificates.

Charlemagne is in the process of adding the two classes, which means that there is a need for an additional teacher. They were very encouraged by Charlemagne’s utilization of the lap top computer that was provided two years ago. After attending the classes we arranged for, he has taken great advantage of the lap top and has taken it upon his own to begin teaching his staff of teachers how to
use the computer to make their tasks easier.

One of the active school projects is to build a functioning kitchen, a multi-purpose community room and four additional classrooms. The project appears to be about 50% complete, but is at a standstill due to the inability of bringing in supplies and building equipment because of the road conditions. Our travelers are attempting to find a fix for this problem.

Two pilgrims also met with Pere Kensy to discuss the Agriculture project and also meet with John Robert to discuss the livestock project. The livestock project is going extremely well. The farmers receive, at no charge, an animal (goat, pig, cow, etc.). When the animal is mature, it may be bred or slaughtered. Regardless of the choice, the farmer must repay, in kind or money the value of the original animal. Many of the animals have had offspring, one is sold and the monies are returned to the project so that more can be bought, one is given away to another farmer who may be in need, and if there is a third, the farmer can keep it to improve his/her own position. It was no surprise that some livestock was lost to the hurricanes, literally washed away, some became sick and died; a couple of animals were stolen. This amounts to about 25% loss, but the program is actually working better than expected.

Other team members met with the Micro-Credit management team. These five people are strong and the program is well managed. There are 120 people participating in the program. The loans are as low as 5000 Gourdes to as high as 30,000 Gourdes. (5 Gourdes equal one Haitian Dollar and 7 Haitian dollars equal 1 US Dollar.)  Our loss rate is approximately 6%, which is a 2% increase over
our normal loss rate. This is due to the rising costs and difficult economic conditions. At this meeting they met a woman who has a husband and eight children. She borrowed 1000 Haitian dollars which enabled her to create a wholesale food business. She has successfully paid back this loan and attends every monthly meeting to share her success and learn from others. She told us that this has enabled her to provide food, clothing and education for her eight children. On Thursday afternoon, these Pilgrims will return to St. Theresa’s and meet with 20 to 30 participants of the program to hear their stories of how the
Micro-credit program has changed their lives.

A few of the pilgrims went with Pere Kensy to look at the land that has been purchased for the tilapia farm. Closing a land transaction in Haiti takes about eight months, so we’re a far cry from being ready to start any construction.
Further updates will be shared as we receive them.