In Haiti, There’s Still Hope Amidst the Rubble
This month marks the second anniversary of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Unfortunately, little has changed for the majority of people living in and around the city since the earthquake. More than 550,000 people continue to live in tent communities, where parents are without work, children are without schools, and much of the rubble still remains.
However, all is not bleak. In the last six months of 2011, some of your donations to Buddhist Global Relief have been used to provide a grant to the What If? Foundation in Haiti. A grant of $10,000 was used to support a community-based feeding program (known as Lamanjay in Haitian Creole), which has made an incredible impact on the lives of thousands of children and families in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. This remarkable program provides an average of 1,000 hot, nutritious meals of rice, vegetables, and protein each and every weekday. About 800 of these meals feed hungry children; but the elderly, the sick, and adults in need of assistance in the community are also served. The amazing cooking team continues to buy their produce at the local farmers’ market, and to buy other food and supplies from local distributors.
While primarily a feeding program, Lamanjay is also striving to create an atmosphere of hope, love, and respect for the people living in this very challenged neighborhood. It has become a sort of “safe zone” for the children of the area; a place where they can connect with others and reclaim a little bit of their childhood. As Rolande, a 7-year-old girl says, “I live in a tent city--I do not go to school. I like coming to Lamanjay, because they give me a big plate of food, so I am not hungry. And I get to play. And they teach me songs and other things. I am safe at the food program. Really safe.” And Minora, a 12-year-old girl adds, “On weekends when there is no food program, I cannot wait for it to open again. I get so excited to come back.” Jean Marc, an 11-year-old boy, beautifully reminds us of why we support Lamanjay in Port-au-Prince, when he says, “I live in a tent city. So I come to the food program for food. I like that when I am there I get to play. I pray the food program will continue. I don’t know what I would do without it.” Let’s continue to make sure that Rolande, Minora, Jean Marc, and others like them, never have to live without it!