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
In December 2016, Nick Kempson, Vibrant Village Foundation’s Program Director in Kenya and Charlie Wright, Kenya Education and Training Coordinator spent six days in Portland, Oregon visiting with Ken deLaski and our staff at headquarters. We had several days of meetings where Nick and Charlie shared presentations about the program in Kenya, highlighting their key successes and learning over the past year. This year they tripled the number of farmers involved in their farm input program, moving from 500 farmers to nearly 1500 farmers. Despite a few growing pains, they had a very successful year in terms of repayment among their farmers.
Nick and Charlie also presented their ambitious 3-year plan which includes additional expansion of their farm input program and education programming with the goal of reaching self-sufficiency by 2019. Ken and the HQ team also had a chance to share ideas for future growth for the Foundation, which was very fruitful.
Exchange with The BOMA Project
In January 2017, Nick Kempson, Vibrant Village Kenya's Program Director and Hilary Owinyo, VVF Kenya’s M&E Specialist, traveled to Northern Kenya to meet with one of our newest grantees, The BOMA Project.
Nick Kempson meeting with BOMA staff and community members
The exchange was an opportunity for Nick and Hilary to learn more about the Graduation Approach and the specific targeting and coaching involved in that model. Nick and Hilary were also introduced to the remote data collection system BOMA uses to monitor their programs effectively in very distant and spread out communities.
Nick meeting with BOMA participants during their savings meeting
In October and November 2016, Marieme Daff, our Program Officer travelled to East and Southern Africa for three weeks to meet with several grantees.
Business entreprenuers selling their wares at Eco-Agric
Marieme visiting gardens with Bega kwa Bega Mobile clinics in Uganda with Bega kwa Bega
Marieme also had the opportunity to meet with The Water Trust, a US-based NGO that implements water and sanitation projects in northwestern Uganda and has since been awarded a grant to support their sanitation and hygiene work in 18 schools.
Students in northwestern Uganda
School children fetching water
Latrines slated for repair in 2017
Marieme spent several days in Malawi visiting Global Hope Mobilization and Pump Aid in the central region.
Community members using the water infrastructure Latrine blocks completed by Pump Aid
Marieme them traveled south to Blantyre to meet with our partner Action for Environmental Sustainability (AFES).
The irrigation channel supported by AFES Community members contributing labor for the project
Crops growing in fields supported by AFES
In her final week, Marieme traveled to Tanzania where she joined a group of Africa Bridge’s board members and supporters to visit their projects in the southwestern highlands.
Alfred and Marieme in Kisondela Ward
Hilda, Meyvin and Isuba in Kisondela Ward
MVCC and Co-op Members in Lufingo Ward
Caterina's Grandchildren, Kalalo, Lufingo
Overall, Marieme was very impressed with the dedication of our partners to serve rural, marginalized communities through innovative livelihood programs, top-notch water and sanitation services, adapted health support (such as mobile clinics) and other much-needed community development initiatives.