Northern Haiti - Sonje Ayiti
In January, John Stephens, our Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships travelled to Haiti to visit Sonje Ayiti, our grant partner that runs several projects in the small villages of Paulette and Phaeton in the northern region.
New community restaurant in Phaeton
Lunch being served at the restaurant
Happy patrons at the communtiy restaurant
Sonje Ayiti recently opened two new community restaurants to replace what was previously a feeding program. The restaurants now provide a free nutritious lunch for the communities' most vulnerable citizens (children and the elderly), which is about 10% of their clientele, while also providing low-cost meals for other patrons from the surrounding area. The new, brightly painted restaurants have quickly become a source of pride in Paulette and Phaeton. Sonje Ayiti expects the restaurants to become self-sufficient over time, as paying customers help to offset the cost of meals for those most in need.
Northern Ecuador - VVF
After his trip to Haiti, John spent a few days in Northern Ecuador where he visited with one of VVF’s oldest direct implementation programs, which has been running since 2010. The primary programs are improving food security via home gardening, improving irrigation water systems and community enrichment in the small town of Paragachi. The team is implementing a system of vegetable and fruit gardening which is taken from the practice of biodynamic farming, and keeps much of its ethos around organic methods and natural resource management. The gardens are nurtured by various forms of organic fertilizer and also benefit from Ecuador’s excellent climate. The gardens have shown to be extremely productive and families are reaping incredible harvests. As gardens become more abundant and provide surplus produce, communities are searching for new ways to engage with local markets, and are interested in various schemes to transport and sell fruits and vegetables to nearby communities.
Farmers in Ecuador display their recent harvest and share their knowledge about different crops
“I was impressed with how productive these home gardens were, which is directly related to the results of the organic fertilizer,” John explained. “Using simple technology, participants can very easily produce sufficient nutritious food at their homes to address household food security concerns first, and income generation second. The benefits of home gardening not only promote better nutrition, but also displaces processed foods purchased in the markets, saving families further money.”
A pair of gardeners proudly show their plot The VVF Ecuador Team
Peru - DESEA PERU
After Ecuador, John made his first visit to Peru to visit with our grantee DESEA Peru, working in the high Andean mountains near Cusco. DESEA’s work involves empowering local women as community health workers and installing water filters. The health workers, or Qhalis, are having enormous impact on the health of their community members by promoting improved nutrition and hygiene practices, and have even saved lives by applying their first aid training. The water filters are produced locally and use a bio-sand filter mechanism. These filters are low-tech, inexpensive and when properly maintained, last indefinitely. DESEA is happy to share their water filter design with any interested NGOs!
A biosand filter installed in a home in Peru
A Qhali and her young family
The DESEA Peru Team