Community Garden, Tree Nursery and Seed Bank
Michuad, Haiti is an agrarian community and its economy depends largely on its agricultural output. In an effort to provide economic development, HAC is building the capacity of local farmers in a variety of ways. Farmers now have access to improved farming techniques that yield higher outputs on their crops. These hands on seminars are given through a partnership with PROViDE and local agronomists.
We are also building a tree nursery and garden to provide subsidized plants to give them an edge on getting into the global market. We will later buy back their seeds to grow new plants and trees. This also ensures that trees are kept long term, reforesting Haiti and providing sustainable sources of nutrition and income for families.
Haiti’s streets are filled with the evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives here. HAC is capitalizing on this already present interest in entrepreneurship and providing resources to take business owners into viable, sustainable businesses. Each loan is given to a group of people to ensure it is paid back. Once a group has paid their loan, they are eligible to borrow higher amounts. Individuals participating in the program are required to attend one of our education programs so they can gain better business practices.
In areas where resources such as animal feed and grazing fields are limited, smaller animals like goats are better suited to thrive. This is the case in Michaud, Haiti. In fact, a short walk through any dusty neighborhood would give you the opportunity to see these goats. Because they are already a familiar animal and provide such good nutrition, the Haitian American Caucus has begun a project to provide interested families that display need with a female goat.
In an effort to sustain the project, exponentially expand its effects and give families the opportunity to become a donor themselves, HAC facilitates the “gifting” of a female goat. After the first offspring, the owner of the goat will pass on a kid back to HAC to sustain the project and one to another community family who will start the same process.
A veterinarian will lead an educational seminar for all prospective goat owners to teach best practices to maintain animal health. This vet will also be available once a month to answer any questions and to provide a check-up on the goats.
Parents will gain dignity as they are better able to provide for their families, children will be better nourished and the entire community will benefit as their neighbors increase their economic possibilities. There are already more than 50 interested families with the potential of more in the surrounding areas; however, HAC is currently only positioned to provide 10 goats. With your help, we can expand this program to quickly reach more people with nutrition and sustainable hope for a better future.
Metal Artisans Project
The Metal Artisans Project aims to increase the capacity of local artists to reach international markets while sharing the beauty and pride of Haitian artwork. Economic development is a priority at HAC. 50% of the proceeds go to the artists while the remainder of the proceeds directly support HAC programs in Haiti.
These artists live in a village among other artists who have been making metal sculpture for generations. We selected these particular artists because they are passionate, aspiring artists. There are about seven guys all under 25 working together in the shop. Each artist brings his own special skills to create each piece.
Sculptures start with a recycled drum of tomato paste. Every step is done by hand, starting with disassembling the drum and drawing the design on the raw metal. It is then carefully cut, shaped, polished, painted, and sealed to create a beautiful sculpture. Custom orders are available; they did an incredible job with our logo.
You can find our store on eBay, just search for HacusArt. Thank you for support economic development in Haiti and spreading love for Haitian artwork.
Community English Courses
Haiti’s proximity to the United States and English’s growing prominence in global markets is making the English language an attractive quality to prospective employers in Haiti. After many in the Croix-des-Bouquets area displayed interest in learning English, HAC started three English courses in 2010: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
The classes are taught by two locals who went through the courses themselves and are supplemented with the help of English speaking volunteers that visit.
Illiteracy rates in Haiti are currently hovering 70%. This not only limits employment opportunities, but also makes the population vulnerable. For example, consumers in the marketplace can easily be taken advantage of when they are unable to do to simple arithmetic. HAC is combating this statistic by offering literacy courses to adults in Croix-des-Bouquets.
Education is the foundation for the development of communities and nations. In Haiti, over 90% of primary schools are private and require their students to pay tuition, books, and uniform costs. The result is that families are often forced to choose between which children to send to school and many students miss out on months to years of education when their family is unable to pay. HAC is supporting Ecole Shalom in Michaud, a small community in Croix-des-Bouquets to provide a quality education for all children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. This school was established in 2003 and as of school year 2010-2011, 57 students were enrolled.
HAC is only able to accept additional students through child education sponsorships and partnerships with other organizations. Students can be sponsored for $125 a year. M.A.D.E has joined HAC in providing 3 vegetarian meals a week for students.
Teachers’ Summer Institute
There is a huge shortage of teachers in Haiti that have received adequate training to prepare them for the difficult task of teaching several subjects to various ages, not too mention other issues that arise in the classroom setting. For example, working with students with developmental disabilities. Another part of the issue is that the few teachers with extended training are generally at the best paying schools. This leaves hundreds of thousands of students who are unable to pay for this type of education, or in communities where it is not even an option, missing out on the opportunity to receive a basic education.
The Haitian American Caucus recognizes this injustice and has proposed to start an annual Teachers Summer Institute. During this week-long program, teachers from around the area, and eventually the country, would participate in advanced training led by volunteers from Haiti and around the world. These teachers would then take the practices back to their schools and for each teacher trained an average of 25 students a year would benefit. In total, we’re looking at impacting over 2500 new children each year.
Right now, we are seeking qualified teachers, school administrators, and other professionals in the field to design and implement the training. This is shaping some of the specifics for the program. For example, we will be able to offer the teachers training in working with students with developmental disabilities this summer because we have secured a professional in the area. Other aspects of the program, such as Classroom Management will be a staple class.
Right now, we need help in a few areas. One is connecting with the Haitian diaspora working in the educational sector who would be interested in participating in TSI. We also need resources to host TSI and to provide teachers who complete TSI with materials to take back to their classrooms. To accomplish either of those goals, we need people spreading the word about TSI and ways to get involved.
The Women’s Empowerment project came about on March 8th 2011 which was International Women’s Day. HAC decided to celebrate the women of the community through song, encouragement and sharing a meal. During this event, community women decided to begin meeting once a week to discuss various issues and socialize. “Cercle de l’Amitie de la Ferme Blanchard” or “Circle of Friends from La Ferme Blanchard” was established.
Since this initial meeting, they are already mobilizing to realize goals discussed in their meetings. Personal development classes such as computer, sewing, cooking, art classes, English classes are in the process of forming. The ladies also decided to have a committee to help them better achieve their goals.
They have named the long-term goal of expanding and unifying to become powerful, financially stable women. HAC believe in working together to help strengthen our sisters in every ways that we can. HAC is providing access to its facilities, securing guest speakers, and facilitating the development of Circle of Friends.
HAC proudly hosts quarterly community meetings where members can present their concerns to their elected officials. This is through a partnership with the Croix-des-Bouquets Mayor’s Office.