Seeing Haiti with My Own Eyes
by David Braughton
The children started filling the large cafeteria 90 minutes before lunch. They came, two, four, nine at a time and squeezed quietly 10 to 12 onto row after row of wooden benches. By the time the food was ready, over 600 kids, and the occasional mother cradling an infant, packed the room. Late arrivals were directed outside to large concrete steps where they sat unshaded beneath the afternoon sun or stood in line hoping that there would be enough food to go around.
Before the meal, adults led the kids in songs and repeated in unison, “piti piti na rive!” The old Creole saying is a testament of hope and means “Little by little, we will arrive!” Then the other volunteers and I were instructed to form four long lines stretching from where the plates were prepared down the aisles and, like a fire brigade, started passing steaming plates of red beans and rice and a small chicken drumstick to each other and then along to the waiting youngsters.
For many of the children this would be their first and only meal of the day – even though it was 2:30 p.m. I was struck by how kind they were. No one grabbed for a plate and all willingly passed the food on to the child sitting next to them before taking a plate for themselves. Most, even those four or five years old, had an even younger child with them, who they made sure was taken care of before helping themselves. READ MORE>>
Every Human Life Has Value
by Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi
In recent weeks the world has been rocked by deeds of horrific violence, which have had tragic consequences and brought fear and sorrow into the lives of people everywhere. Yet sudden acts of terrorist violence are not the only type of random destruction occurring today. Structures of domination and exploitation impose a kind of subtle violence that also take many innocent lives as their toll. What unifies both terrorism and systemic violence is a refusal to recognize that every person is an irreplaceable center of subjective experience and thus a bearer of intrinsic value.
Over the past two weeks, deeds of horrific violence have erupted across the globe, tearing at the strings of the heart. A suicide bombing in Ankara on March 13 killed forty people, the latest in a series of bombings in Turkish cities. Two suicide bombings took place in Brussels a week ago, at the airport and on a train, killing more than thirty, turning an ordinary business day into a nightmare. On Easter Sunday in Lahore, a major city in Pakistan, a suicide bombing in a park claimed the lives of more than seventy people, most of them women and children enjoying a family outing. Another suicide bombing in a soccer stadium in Iraq, south of Baghdad, killed thirty, mostly youngsters. READ MORE ON OUR BLOG>>
Bolstering a Food Budget for Hungry Kids in Haiti
by BGR Staff
This past May BGR approved a six-month renewable grant to the Art Creation Foundation for Children in Haiti, to bolster its food program, which a budget shortfall had forced to be cut in half. The Art Creation Foundation is an arts-based non-profit organization created for the personal growth, empowerment, and education of children in need in Jacmel, Haiti. The Foundation provides art instruction, tutoring, medical care, daily food and water, and educational expenses for students in the program. Its mission is "to build a passionate community of future leaders, visionaries, and dynamic thinkers who are empowered to better their lives and their world through the arts and education." READ MORE>>
Educating Children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
Moanoghar was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks and lay persons to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. Moanoghar provides formal education, vocational training, health services and support for the overall socio-economic development of its students in the area and of the wider community. Currently more than 1,250 children study at Moanoghar, half of them residential. Some 40% of the students are girls. Many of the children were left homeless or orphaned as the result of a decades-long ethnic conflict. All children at Moanoghar receive free or highly subsidized education.
BGR is currently sponsoring a three-year project to establish a sustainable educational system that can generate income to maintain the institution and support the children being schooled there. The project is now in its second year, during which the aims are: (1) to establish sustainable income to support the institution and the students; and (2) to add nutrition for students with crops like papaya and bananas. To meet these goals, BGR sponsorship allows the creation of a bamboo plantation on five additional acres of land (beyond the three acres that BGR supported last year); the planting of various fruit crops; and the hiring of an additional gardener to maintain the gardens.
Enhanced Homestead Food Production
Last year, BGR entered into a partnership with Helen Keller International on a three-year expansion of its innovative Enhanced Homestead Food Production program in Côte d’Ivoire’s Bouaké District (Gbèkè Region), an especially poor district where families struggle with food security and lack access to food markets. Teams teach the Enhanced Homestead Food Production model to community gardening groups comprised mostly of women. The project is designed to increase the availability and quantity of micronutrient-rich vegetables.A key component of the program is growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, a food rich in micronutrients, especially vitamin A, essential to preventing blindness. The project improves gardening practices, irrigation systems, and income generation. It also provides instruction in nutrition and hygiene to young mothers. Women farmers learn marketing strategies for selling their crops. Successful small-scale irrigation systems will be applied not only to programs in Côte d’Ivoire but throughout the region, especially to areas vulnerable to climate change.
Enhanced Food Security for Women Farmers
This is the third year of a three-year partnership with Oxfam India on a project being implemented in 13 villages in the Tehri Gharwal district of the Uttarakhand region. The project is designed to benefit over 6500 people in 1200 households of small and marginal farmers. Its focus is on enhancing food security for women farmers by building a sustainable production system that can prove resilient in the face of a changing climate. The project strengthens integrated farming systems; increases the use of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI); and teaches non-pesticidal sustainable agriculture. During this third year of the program, village-level resource persons are being trained to enhance their capacities; further training is being given in low-input sustainable agriculture and forest, water, and soil conservation; and links are being created with the government to spread new information.