HAITI: Recent Rice-Meal Donation Provides Better Nutrition to 1,500 Poor Youth and Their Families
(MissionNewswire) Poor youth and their families participating in Salesian programs that provide shelter, education and other services in Cap-Haïtien and Port-au-Prince have received access to better nutrition thanks to a recent shipment of fortified rice-meals. The donation was made possible through an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now), an international relief organization that provides food and life‐saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable. Close to 1,500 people from Don Bosco Lakay, Don Bosco Lakou and Don Bosco Cap-Haïtien, along with a Salesian daycare, were recipients of this donation.
Salesian programs in Haiti provide education, workforce development and social development services to assist youth in gaining an education and breaking the cycle of poverty. However, no matter how many hours a child may spend sitting in a classroom, it is hard to focus and retain any information if the child is hungry. Additionally, some parents in Haiti will only allow their children to attend school if a meal is provided because otherwise the child is needed at home to work and provide for the family.
Salesian food programs provide meals to students during the school day and serve as an incentive for families to send their children to school. As a result of these feeding programs, students are thriving. Many have gained weight, suffered fewer illnesses and become more focused on their studies. Teachers are seeing better student performance in class, a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in program enrollment rates.
“Feeding programs are a necessity to meet the needs of the massive number of children in Haiti who are hungry today,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Meals children receive at Salesian schools may be their only meals. This food not only encourages them to attend school, it allows them to focus on getting the education they need without worrying about where their next meal will come from. Children cannot learn on an empty stomach.”
Salesian Missions has been collaborating with Salesian missionaries in Haiti for more than 20 years, during which time hundreds of containers of donated goods have been sent to meet the needs of youth advancement programs. These shipments have included food items to feed the school children and youth center attendees, educational books and computers for the schools and youth centers, clothing for the children and hygiene supplies for cholera prevention.
“Salesian missionaries are an integral part of the existing infrastructure in many countries, and Salesian Missions plays an important role in making sure aid from the United States reaches its destination country and gets into the hands of those who need it most,” says Fr. Hyde.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas ranking 163 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The country also faces the highest levels of severe food insecurity in the world, according to the World Food Programme. More than half of the country’s population was chronically undernourished during 2012-2014, representing a total of 5.3 million Haitians. Nearly 100,000 Haitian children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, causing irreversible stunted growth for close to 30 percent of all children in the country. Haiti’s economy has also been repeatedly affected by political crises and natural disasters in the last two decades exacerbating an already challenging situation. Seven years after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s population of 11 million continues to face humanitarian and development challenges.
Salesian Missions – Haiti
World Bank – Haiti