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Construction Projects in Haiti

Following is a post from 2014 PovRes intern Sarah Kelly:

In line with our mission, we desire for our construction projects to be part of making a sustainable and lasting impact on the community in which we serve. As we build, we purposefully stimulate the local economy with the vast majority of the funds we use on a project being spent in Haiti.

transition centerOur most recent project, the Men’s Transition Center, will be used as a training location as we help mentor young Haitian men and teach them applicable skills such as agriculture and carpentry. We hired Haitians to help us create building plans and to help construct the foundation and the walls, and we were able to provide hundreds of hours worth of labor—a rare commodity in Haiti. Whenever we hire Haitians, we intentionally treat them with respect, providing food as well as fair pay. The typical Haitian citizen lives off only a dollar a day and usually works 12 hours each day, but our workers earn between 8 and 20 dollars a day for eight hours of labor.

Jon DowneyWe supplement the work of the Haitians with volunteers from the U.S., including several professional contractors. Our volunteers experience many of the challenges that face Haitians every single day. In the U.S., we are privileged to have immediate access to abundant construction materials. The construction process in Haiti requires extensive preparation. The Haitian equivalent to Home Depot or Lowes is called MSC and the owners import construction materials from the U.S. and elsewhere, but selection is limited and it can take an entire day to sort through and choose supplies. We often have to go through “a friend of a friend” to find materials in Haiti or import our materials months ahead of time.

construction workOur hope is that our buildings serve not only their purpose as a site location, but also, through the construction process, stimulate the Haitian economy, enable Haitians to learn new skills by working alongside skilled and trained Americans, and help individual families survive.

 

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College student Sarah Kelly first visited Haiti with Poverty Resolutions as part of her church group in 2013. She was a 2014 PovRes intern and spent 6 weeks serving in Haiti.

Happiness and Joy in an Unlikely Place

Following is a guest blog post written by PovRes friend and volunteer Lynn Kirkner.

The earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 first sparked my first interest in going on a trip there. I had heard of so much death and destruction and wanted to help in some small way. I joined my friends at Poverty Resolution who were headed there to do just that—help. Once there, we headed right for an orphanage filled with children ages newborn to fifteen. Many of these children had lost their parents in the earthquake and some were dropped off by one remaining parent because their mom or dad could no longer take care of them. We spent a week building a school and painting their cinderblock dorms. What a difference a coat of paint can make in the lives of children who have so little.

10710651_659443081947_3016883097938927978_nWe built relationships that week, too, by playing games with them, holding a Vacation Bible School, playing soccer, and just sitting down and talking with them. A hug, a smile, and time braiding their hair all meant so much, not only to the children, but to all of us, as well.

10482277_659442143827_9059042770793099654_nThis trip opened my eyes to unfathomable poverty so close to home. The thing that made the biggest impression on me was how happy the children were in spite of the fact that they literally owned nothing. No games, no toys no television, no video games. Okay, well, I’ll correct myself…they did own a soccer ball. J These children were not only happy, but they legitimately had JOY! They had more joy than most American children I know. They had Jesus in the truest sense of the word. They loved Him, relied on Him, had peace in Him, praised Him, and were filled with joy because of Him.

The trip to Haiti changed my perspective of my own life. It opened my eyes. I was compelled to go back, over and over again. The people there have become my friends. Thankfully, we will spend eternity together.

10314684_10152238247548517_5845503090486105028_nLynn has taught PreK at Open Door Christian Academy for the past 20 years. She is the Captain at Hartsville Vol. Fire Co., where she has been a volunteer firefighter for 32 years. At the Bucks County Prison, she teaches a weekly class aimed at helping the inmates make better decisions. Her favorite roles, however, are being mother to 3 beautiful girls and grandmother to a precious little boy.

Tilapia Farms

Following is a post from 2014 PovRes intern Sarah Kelly:

At local orphanages in Haiti, the children are regularly taken in because they are severely malnourished, and the owners often struggle to bring the children back to health. Food scarcity is a fundamental setback in Haiti. People lack basic nutrients in their diet—especially protein. At Poverty Resolutions, we are always seeking sustainable solutions to food scarcity, and, in 2013, we discovered tilapia farms as a low maintenance, lasting means to provide protein for local Haitians.

tilapia farm 1We met with tilapia expert Dr. Jay Stauffer from Penn State University in order to design the farm as sustainably as possible. Essentially, our tilapia farm design consists of one large pool of water, with nets dividing the water into three separate pools. The three pools allow the smaller fish to swim through the nets away from the larger, more fully grown fish, so the older fish won’t eat the younger ones. We found we could be more efficient by feeding chicken overtop the tilapia pool. Using this method, overseers feed only the chicken rather than both the chicken and the fish. Chickens have trouble digesting their food, so many of the nutrients are not absorbed, and the fish actually consume the chicken excrement as an extremely nutritious food source.

The farms are a practical solution to Haitian malnutrition because tilapia can survive in the hot weather, grow quickly, taste good, and the pools require only simple upkeep. Tilapia are able to survive in either fresh or salt water, which allows us to use salt water to help fight bacteria. The filtration system on the pools is low maintenance, and the tilapia farm has three specialized, simple filters, each with a specific purpose for fighting bacteria. Additionally, our design has a solar powered aeration system, allowing oxygen to spread throughout the pool so the fish are able to breathe.

tilapia farm 2After about six months, the fish are ready to harvest. At this point, the fully developed fish are placed into a separate pool with no chickens above, allowing the chicken excrements to clear out of their system. The cost upkeep of a tilapia farm is surprisingly low since only one animal is typically fed. The farm provides fish, chicken, and eggs to consume and to sell to the community.

In 2013, Poverty Resolutions partnered with a local orphanage to build a tilapia farm, with the intention that the orphanage would become self-sustaining and the farm upkeep would provide jobs for the orphans. We are considering building another tilapia farm as part of our current Transition Center project.

Sarah 2College student Sarah Kelly first visited Haiti with Poverty Resolutions as part of her church group in 2013. She was a 2014 PovRes intern and spent 6 weeks serving in Haiti.