Years of unchecked deforestation and development have left much of Haiti's soil barren and stripped of essential nutrients for growing food. Most Haitians rely on outside charities and other non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, for food handouts. Twenty percent of Haiti's children are malnourished, and despite the billions donated by foreign governments and NGOs, Haiti has more hungry children than any nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Two organizations are testing a new model that allows Haitians to take the lead in securing and distributing food. The organization What If?, founded by a Haitian Catholic priest and a woman from Berkeley, California, feeds thousands of children each day from a church kitchen in Port-au-Prince. What makes this program stand out from many international relief programs is that all operations are totally run by a staff of native Haitians.
The organization Partners in Agriculture also works with Haitians directly, teaching them high-yield sustainable farming methods. It is also creating jobs by hiring local workers, treating malnutrition by turning crops into food supplements and reforesting land by planting trees and developing fuel products other than wood.
"I don't know how to run a program in Haiti. I'm still learning Creole. I'm not Haitian. I don't live here. I think it's critical to be working alongside a Haitian community. They have designed the food program in a way that works." - Margaret Trost, founder, What If? Foundation
"You see how much that we are doing in 10 years. My hope for the organization is to make the difference, because the children are the future of the country." - Lavarice Gaudin, What If? Foundation
"I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people." - President Bill Clinton
"We firmly believe that this project is something that is serving the people of Haiti, and that it needs to be Haitian hands to really operate the way that we believe it can and it should." - Joan Vanwassenhove, associate nutrition coordinator, Partners in Health
1. Where is Haiti? What happened there that crippled the country in early 2010?
2. When a country's people are unable to provide for themselves, what kinds of organizations usually step in?
3. What kinds of conditions are required to farm land successfully and grow food?
1. According to the video, what are the two featured organizations doing differently from others that might help Haitians in the long run? Do you agree with their approach? Why/why not?
2. Do some research about the company Riceland of Arkansas mentioned in the video and former President Bill Clinton's policies related to the Haitian food supply. Why do you think he regrets implementing those policies?
3. Do you think the many aid organizations currently flooding Haiti will end up helping or hurting the country in the long run? Why? If you could set up an aid organization to help Haitians, what would it involve and why?