When we arrived in Haiti nearly a year ago, we anticipated that we would face many challenges as we learned exactly what our students needed. Our main focus initially was to build structure within the program to ensure that the Thrive Ansanm students could go to school. This meant paying their tuition, books and uniform fees, while also creating a well functioning resource center that is a safe space for students to come after school. Then, sadly, the country’s political climate turned sour and ongoing violent protests closed schools down from September till December.
Not only were schools closed during this time, business and commerce practically halted to a stop as well.
The instability in the country has contributed to the depreciation of the local currency and a sharp spike in food prices. This has caused food instability for many families across the country.
When schools finally opened again in January, we quickly realized that for some of our students, there is a missing piece to their educational puzzle. This missing piece is food.
In two previous blogs we introduced you to Biad and Mona’s families. Biad is a father of four and Mona is a mother of six. Biad works tirelessly in the hot sun hauling garbage for people in the neighborhood and Mona is currently without work. The current economic situation has made feeding their families even more difficult. Many students in Haiti will either bring food from home to school for lunch or purchase a lunch at school. The problem is that when a family like Biad or Mona’s is struggling to put food on the table neither of these options are realistic for them. This means that their children will likely arrive at school hungry and will remain so throughout the day. If our students are to learn and succeed in school, they must get the fuel their bodies need to sustain and nourish them. It is not enough to send them to school and expect them to perform well if their fundamental needs are not first met.
Seeing this need, Romelynn, one of the Thrive Ansanm mentors, offered to make food for the children, and we were able to set aside some money to buy food for her to make each day.
Now every school morning both Biad and Mona’s children (seven in total) file into Romelynn’s home for breakfast before they walk to school. In addition, each child arrives with a container for some extra food to bring to school for lunch.
Thanks to Romelynn’s initiative and the support of Thrive Ansanm donors, these students are now getting the food they need to help them succeed in school. It is our hope that we can continue to support them on their journey, breaking down any barriers that keep them from the education they deserve.
Note: Since this original blog was written, we have temporarily suspended our feeding program because schools are closed for COVID-19. We’ll be up and running again as soon as it’s safe.