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Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti

by Colorado Haiti Project
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti
Healthy Farms, Healthy Children - Growing in Haiti

Plans are being crafted to reorganize the use of existing land at St. Paul's School in Petit Trou de Nippes in order to expand the agricultureal learning and animal husbandry program, create a space for a soccer field, and plant up to 860 moringa and lime trees. 

The project will include a solar-powered well and irrigation system to water the school garden during the dry season, which can last up to half of the year. The project also includes building a strong, block wall to help protect the garden from neighboring cattle and goats who climb, go under or bust through weak fencing. These changes will allow the school agriculture program to continue year round, and exponentially increase yeilds. 

With the new well as the water source for the garden, the existing small rain catchment can serve other purposes, namely the animals and new orchards. The animal husbandry program plans to double their stock, giving students the opportunity to learn skills like how to vaccinate and breed. The catchment will also water around 860 sapplings on campus. In time, the trees will not only offset carbon for the organization and beautify the campus, but will also provide a revanue source for the school and an economic boost for the community. 

Pending budget, these plans could be underway as soon as the Spring of 2020. 

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St. Paul's produce table
St. Paul's produce table

There was much bustling about on Friday morning in preparation for the annual St. Paul’s School Harvest Festival. Vendor stalls needed to be built, vegetables harvested, eggs gathered and children corralled.

Each year, the school holds this festival to showcase the agriculture program, led by Agronomist Raphael Salvador, which teaches students about farming and animal husbandry, and supports small family farms in the community. There is a small fee to enter and the proceeds help support the program. After a welcome from Agro Raphael, Father Luc Desire and Principal Maxo Valcin, the children sang songs, performed dances and enacted plays advocating for the preservation of trees, care for the environment and the importance of nutrition.

Artisans and vendors displayed their wares in stalls made from long sticks. Local women kept the stoves going nonstop cooking delicious “fritay”, or fried Haitian street food such as plantains and manioc. Eggs gathered from nearby chicken coops and a large spread of okra, peppers, eggplants, melons, sugar cane and carrots harvested from the school garden made up the offering from St. Paul’s program. Goats were tethered to a tree in the shade and the rabbit hutch was on display nearby.

Later in the day, a bicycle was raffled off and St. Paul’s students played students from a nearby school in a soccer match. This year’s festival was a big success, with fantastic attendance from St. Paul students and parents, as well as students, parents and community members from the surrounding area. 

Agro Raphael & program leaders harvest the garden
Agro Raphael & program leaders harvest the garden
Students display their artwork
Students display their artwork
Madame Darlene preparing fresh fruit
Madame Darlene preparing fresh fruit

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Recent Saturday mornings at St. Paul’s School have brought some new celebrities to campus. At one of the latest garden club meetings, dozens of students—most of them members of garden club—gathered around Agronomist Raphael Fernandez Salvador as he introduced a hands-on component to a lecture he had given the week before on animal husbandry.

Underneath the shade of the school garden’s lean-to structure, Raphael hung a giant wire-frame cage that students had previously helped to construct. Crouched inside were five rabbits in shades of white, tan, grey, and brown. Raphael reviewed proper care for the rabbits as the students gazed curiously into the cage.

There were two goals for the session ahead: that students feel comfortable properly holding a rabbit by the scruff of its neck, and to identify a rabbit’s sex. Some students were initially unsteady with their rabbit-holding technique, but Raphael gently coached them so that by the end of the club’s meeting, students appeared to be experts at rabbit handling.

Raphael is known for encouraging his students to dive in and attempt new skills; he knows that mistakes and hesitancies are simply part of the learning process. His remarkable teaching style was evident at a similar garden club meeting in February—this time, goats took the place of rabbits as the furry class guests.

Raphael demonstrated once how to give the vaccine before allowing the students to take over. There were a lot of details to learn, including the method of suctioning the vaccine into the syringe. One girl named Guierline particularly loved giving the shots to the goats, making CHP staff wonder whether she will be a future veterinarian.

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Turning plastic bags into wallets and purses!
Turning plastic bags into wallets and purses!

In Petit Trou de Nippes, on the southern peninsula of Haiti, there is no opportunity for vocational agricultural education, even though farming is the most common source of income for rural families there.  The Colorado Haiti Project supports two young adults to attend a three-year agriculture program on the central plateau of Haiti.  The two students, Schneider and Jameson, ended their first year with high marks and much enthusiasm, finishing second and fourth in their class.

They are not waiting until the three-year program is over to begin their work in their home community of Petit Trou. They returned for their summer break to participate as leaders in the summer camp for 75 children at St. Paul’s School.

Schneider and Jameson have become passionate about environmental concerns such as soil erosion, recycling, and reforestation in their first year.  They spent three weeks as interns during the year at a conservation farm in the mountains of Haiti called Wynne Farm.  This program fed their interest and knowledge of the concerns of Haiti’s deforestation.

For the three-day intensive summer camp, the young men led three different sessions devoted to environmental concerns.

On day one, they introduced the concept and method of making briquettes out of recycled paper to replace tree-sourced charcoal briquettes.  They learned about the briquettes at Wynne Farm. The process involves taking recycled paper, soaking it and forming tight balls, then allowing them to thoroughly dry.  After that, these paper briquettes burn hot and slow, like charcoal briquets!  They also are less toxic to the environment and help reduce deforestation. 

The second day was devoted to a recycled plastic project.  The kids collected the sadly ever-present small water bags that provide a small 6 oz. portion of water.  These little bags ensure the students get frequent drinks of clean and safe water but, they also produce thousands of little bags that litter the streets and school yard.  Schneider and Jameson showed the campers how to take three clean bags and with a special ironing technique and a little bit of sewing turn them into wallets, purses, and shopping bags.  This session was a big hit and the kids really enjoyed it, especially when they got to take home their own little wallets.

On the final day, Schneider and Jameson, shared their true passion, the importance of trees.  When asked about this, their eyes light up and they expound at length when there is an audience.  The students in camp all received a tree to plant at home on Earth Day and so the importance and care for their trees was discussed.

The camp ended with all the camp counselors, led by the organizer, Darline Nicolas, holding a session on the importance of children in the community.  They discussed the rights and responsibilities of kids and finished with an uplifting and empowered feeling among all the campers.

It is one day in the life of kids in rural Haiti.  With the intent of supporting these children and their families to create healthy farms and homes:  recycling, reusing, and protecting their environment are essential.  The Colorado Haiti Project plans to continue with interactive learning programs similar to this summer camp and to continue to support young adults like Schneider and Jameson in bringing techniques and education back to the community.  Please stand with us and contribute this year in support of healthy families in rural Haiti.

Agriculture camp leaders with their Tree Display
Agriculture camp leaders with their Tree Display
Schneider and Jameson helping during summer break
Schneider and Jameson helping during summer break
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Clydens and friends at their booth during the fair
Clydens and friends at their booth during the fair

Petit Trou de Nippes is on the southern peninsula of Haiti and agriculture is the main income driver for the region.  Most families have at least a small family garden and many make their livilihood from the gardens and animals.

 After Hurricane Matthew, farms and gardens in the region were devastated and much rebuilding and deliberation occurred with thoughts  and actions towards stable and sustainable family farms. St. Paul's School had already begun an agriculture program for middle school students. Since the hurricane, an even more concerted effort has been made to engage students.

Growth and new ideas often come through students and young adults. Exciting students about this essential industry can be key in updating the community on agricultural opportunities for their country and climate.

An agriculture festival has become the culmination for the St. Paul's agriculture curriculum each year.  The festival started last year and was instantly a success.  Immediately following the day, it was called the First Annual Agriculture Fair and planning for the second began.

In June, the second annual fair took place. Since this was year two, there was a greater level of excitement and participation from the students. From last year to this, the students understood the fair better and were actively participating in the sales. The fair itself was an exciting, chaotic blend of county fair and 4H exhibition.  The students had booths by class where they sold produce; onions, okra, tomatoes, peppers, maniyok root which is the source of a yummy Haitian dish called Akra and cracker-like product called Cassava.  They also sold chickens and goats.  A new feature of the fair was a booth where students could sell their own produce they had grown at home.

One young student, 13 year old Clydens, dove in to the festival activities with all his classmates.  Clydens, the oldest of three, is an indispensable help to his mother because his father is a truck driver and often away working.  Clydens has started a family garden and this year grew tomatoes, a variety of peppers and eggplants. His attitude towards growing family food and perhaps even a little to sell has gone from unfamiliarity with agriculture to a desire to become a farmer or even an agronomist.  It has become a cool and rewarding activity!

 Agronomist Raphael has just finished his first year at St. Paul’s as the agriculture educator.  He is a big reason the students are so enthralled with growing vegetables.  Along with Agronom Kenel, the first ag educator at the school, they have pulled the students out into the gardens and helped them learn the basics.  Saturday Garden Club has become a social activity for the middle schoolers. Getting together to plant and weed with friends is a great introduction to this fundamental life skill.  For a teacher, there is no bigger compliment than having younger students beg for your class.  And that is exactly what has happened with the 4th and 5th graders.  So next fall, there will be an introductory class for them, with a bit of classwork and lots of time getting their hands dirty in the garden.

Help the Colorado Haiti Project continue engaging the youth of rural Haiti with support of the agriculture programs at St. Paul’s School. As we prepare for the new school year, we are looking for funding for salaries for the agriculture staff, tools and snacks for the garden club and workshops for local farmers that will keep them abreast with what the students are learning in school  And an important component for the future of the program is the training of two agriculture technicians, Schneider and Jameson, local young men who are in a three year post-secondary agriculture program.  They have finished year one and we pursuing support for year two!  This summer, they are home and will lead a summer camp program on sustainable agriculture for the students.

Nourishing whole family involvement including students in the daily life of an agrarian community is essential towards stable food supplies. Please assist us in nurturing this critical life skill.

Adm. Guilot with Agronom Raphael on Fair Day
Adm. Guilot with Agronom Raphael on Fair Day
The Girls Empowerment Club enjoying the fair
The Girls Empowerment Club enjoying the fair
Saturday Morning Garden Club
Saturday Morning Garden Club

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Organization Information

Colorado Haiti Project

Location: Louisville, CO - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Wynn Walent
Louisville, CO United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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