THE HAITI PROJECT AT RIVIERE' MANCELLE
Father Jadotte Joseph
The Haiti Project at Riviere' Mancelle has been an on-going ministry since 1999 when Denise Snyder and a group of young adults were in a Mission Studies Class in Smithville, TN. It serves the 15,000 people of the remote parish of Riviere' Mancelle, in the northern part of Haiti. Working closely with Fr. Jadotte, the parish priest of 5 chapels and 10 outposts, we:
Sponsor children in parish schools for $70 a year
Tuition - $40
Books - $15
Uniform - $15
Ship containers annually with needs and supplies
To date 3 containers have been shipped
Solar panels, batteries, inverters
Treadle sewing machines
Water pipe, they now have fresh spring water at the main church and school
Gardening supplies, seeds, implements
Clothing and house hold goods
Supplies from the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse
A 4-Wheel drive van has been donated to the Mission and we are in the process of delivering it to Haiti
The next container was scheduled to leave this month however, we will wait until things are more stable and we can trust in its ability to reach the people
Plan Mission trips annually in collaboration with Fr. Jadotte
Installed solar panels and generator in the main mission
1,183 patients were seen
Set up a malnutrition clinic
On-going supplies for the dispensary
Personal and dental hygiene
Agricultural – raised bed planting and storage of food
In general, assist them in achieving a better quality of life
Host Fr. Jadotte in the states for 6 weeks in the summer
The Snyder’s host, provide food and lodging for Haitians needing temporary residence while in the states for medical treatments
It was during the 2003 medical mission that we became so acutely aware of the need for food. The children are grossly malnutritioned; they have large ulcers on their bodies caused from the lack of protein. 25% of the children die before the age of 5. According to Fr. Jadotte, the priest in Riviere' Mancelle, “the children in Haiti will never eat everyday”. Currently, the children are walking up to 3 hours each way to attend school on empty stomachs with nothing for lunch. He has assured us that if we can provide the food they can provide the staff and organization to prepare the meals.
Therefore, our next endeavor will be to establish a School Lunch Program where we hope to feed the students, staff and people sent with vouchers for food from the Malnutrition Clinic.
There are 5 schools with 1500 people in them (1200 students, 300 staff) and 181 school days which equates to 271, 500 meals a year. We plan to prepare a protein meal of rich rice, beans and Haitian Red Sauce at two of the schools and supply the other three with the same meals. One of the issues we are encountering is how we cook the food.
Currently a family spends a min of $16 a week on charcoal, which is at least 50% of their income. They average an annual wood consumption of 1,000 lbs. per person. Using this method not only depletes the forest but worse cooking over a charcoal fire is equivalent to smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day. Family members (children, etc.) around the fire are also consuming the dangers.
97% of the country is already deforested and at this rate there will be no trees by the end of this year. In 1923 Haiti was 60% forest and less than 3% remains today. Affecting the climate changing it form a natural rain forest to one in which dust flies through the air when there is a breeze.
85% is mountainous and much of the deforestation has occurred on steep, nutrient poor, high eroding slopes. Over 6% of Haitian land is completely stripped of arable soil and will never be able to support crops. 33% of Haiti's acreage is seriously eroded and facing imminent conversion into desert. Deforestation and erosion in the mountains have blocked up irrigation systems on the plains, leaving land that once produced half the worlds sugar unable to produce enough food for half its own people.
Why am I giving you all these facts because, we are not only looking at how to supply the food to the people we are tasked with how we will prepare the food. We are investigating alternative methods of cooking such as solar ovens. During our next trip we will take a small oven and light meter and travel to Riviere' Mancelle and Boucan Richard to insure this method will work. An oven has just been received in La Digue (La Digga) and we will be checking with them to get feedback on the feasibility of use for our area. Propane can be used as back-up and 1.5 gallons will run the oven for 8 hours.
With all of this said, now let me give you the facts of how you can help. We estimate the purchase of the ovens, transporting them to Haiti and then getting up the mountains will cost approximately $30,000. The annual cost for food will be approximately $20,000 making the program a $50,000 first year spend. However, remember the words of Fr. Jadotte “the children in Haiti will never eat everyday”. He has assured us that if we can provide the food they can provide the staff and organization to prepare the meals. So at a minimum we want to provide the food while we continue to work on the alternate methods of cooking.
We are placing a banner in the church and have supplied you with some cutouts of people. During this Lenten season we are asking that you consider participating with us in ministry to help feed the children and staff at the 5 schools in Riviere' Mancelle. Perhaps as a family you can have a Lenten meal once a week, abstain from a movie or eating out and put your savings into an offering each week. For each $54 that is collected (our estimation of feeding one person for 181 meals) by your Parish Community we ask that you place one of the people in the Haiti banner, this will help you to see how many individuals you will be helping.
There are 6 other Salvatorian Parishes that are assisting us in the effort this Lent. We currently have several parishes involved with the sponsorship of the children, the mission trips to Haiti and the collection of items for the shipping containers.
For further information, please write Denise Snyder at: Haiti Project, 3668 Lower Helton Road, Alexandria, TN 37012, or call at 615-529-2546.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
are called, collaborating with the larger Salvatorian community,
local Catholic parishes, other faith filled communities, and the
Haiti Twinning Program, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to
use the resources that we are stewards of, to serve our brothers
and sisters in Riviere' Mancelle, Haiti.
E-Mail Message from Sr. Jacqueline and Sr. Patricia dated April 6, 2004 (Both Sr. Jackie and Sr. Pat live in Gros Morne which is near Riviere' Mancelle but help Fr. Jadotte and the people of Riviere' Mancelle).
“As the offertory procession moved down the isle what was striking was the empty basket on the woman's head, a basket that normally would have held locally grown fruit. The woman by her side held a basket with three bananas! And the congregation sang, “This year life is like climbing mountain, this year the children and the poor can’t survive. On the mountains of Danti, you can’t find anything; in Kalabat you can’t find anything. This gift, O god, this year is full of cries and tears ... This offertory procession spoke volumes about the situation in Riviere' Mancelle, which comprises the first two communal sections of Gros Morne.
This year, the events of January and February, from the bus burnings on Independence Day through the departure of President Aristide on February 29th, weakened an already fragile economy. [See the United Nations Human Development Index.]
Prices of food staples, such as rice, beans and cooking oil, rose 50% to 100%. Gasoline and kerosene doubled as well as public transportation. Insecurity and cost kept people from traveling to neighboring towns to buy and sell at market. Commerce was cut off from Port de Paix in the north and Gonaives and Port-au-Prince to the South. Weather conditions did not help the situation. The offertory hymn mentioned the strong winds (like a blizzard without snow) that damaged the mango buds, which produce the main cash crop of the region. There was no rain from the end of December until the beginning of March. While this is normally the dry season, if there had been a little rain, there would have been a second flowering on beans and some other plants. Add to this that peasants are contending with harmful insects that are attacking the citrus fruits as well as bananas and other crops. This year many peasants do not even have seeds to plant because they sold them at harvest when prices were lower and now do not have the money to buy seeds at the higher, planting time prices.
For school children this situation means that they come to school hungry because their families have little food and they might not eat much when they go home. When children are hungry, they are weaker and tend to sleep in class. They are also more susceptible to infections and disease. A good meal at school, which would be the best meal for many, is a strong incentive for parents to send their children to school and for children to brave the river that snakes through the whole area. The parish depends on contributions from its twinned parish to pay the teachers and there is no extra money for school meals. Many parents cannot afford the very modest tuition. No agency, government or not-for-profit, is providing supplemental food or school lunches.
Part of the cost of a food program is cooking fuel, which in Riviere' Mancelle is either charcoal or wood. If the several parish schools receive food aid, an alternate fuel source would : 1.) Allow food, like rice and beans, to be cooked, hopefully at a cheaper cost; 2.) Save Trees; 3.) Provide a model that others might follow.
Propane is too expensive, scarce, and difficult to transport because Riviere' Mancelle does not have roads open to cars or trucks. Solar is possible and is being explored. The Methodist Free Church in Gonaives did have a donated $6,000.00 solar oven which turned out to be impractical for school lunches. Amy Smith, an instructor at MIT, has developed a charcoal that can be produced from the remains of the sugar cane after the syrup has been extracted. This merits exploring because Smith's inventions are said to be capable of being produced locally. This could develop into an enterprise that would provide income for church projects.
The Mountains of Riviere' Mancelle are bare in many areas. Two recent studies, which document the deforestation and loss of the soil, are the basis for intervention by a local organization of which the parish is a member. Efforts are underway in reforestation, soil conservation and sustainable agriculture with financial and technical assistance from HELVETAS, a Swiss non-government organization. A School feeding program, which uses an alternate (to charcoal and wood) fuel source, would compliment this Riviere' Mancelle watershed restoration project by saving trees and providing a local market for what is hoped will be increased agricultural production.
There is a very real need for the parish schools to serve the students food prepared with alternative fuel. No one is doing this and the parish does not have the resources. They look to God and their sisters and brothers who are twinned with them.
Haiti has very little fertile farmland and a large population and it must import much of its food from other countries. Haiti is a very poor country. In the city some of the people are rich. The poor people eat rice, beans but mostly sorghum. They eat lots of citrus fruit and very little meat because it costs too much money. The rich people eat fruit, vegetables, beans, rice and meat. Rural people rarely eat meat, fish or eggs. The main elements of the Haitian diet are corn, cassava, millet, rice and fruit. Tropical fruits such as pineapples, mangos, oranges and grapefruit are plentiful. In Haiti there are lots of banana trees, coconut trees, watermelons, almonds and peanuts.
The Haitian people grow spices for food and medicine. Thyme, anise, marjoram black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and garlic are some of the spices. Farmers grow maize, sorghum, sweet potato, and red and black beans to sell. They also grow crops such as coffee, sugar, cocoa and cotton for money. The Haitian diet is made up mostly of fruits and vegetables.
Click here for the Riviere' Mancelle slideshow.