It’s simple things that will help the people of Haiti lift themselves up from the ravages of earthquakes, hurricanes and grinding poverty.
That’s the focus of a five-member team from the Rotary Club of London (UK, District 1130) travelling on Thursday to the Haitian city of Aquin as part of a long-running humanitarian mission.
It will be two weeks of practical hands-on work, teaching local residents to build beehives to replace those blown away by Hurricane Matthew last year, creating simple dehydrators to keep the mango crop from spoiling and fixing many buildings that are still in ruins.
“We are not just delivering stuff. We will be coaching people so they will be able to make things to help themselves after we leave,” said John Eberhard, the Rotarian heading up the team.
The Rotary team is bringing $40,000 in donated goods and supplies, including medicine, wood and tools.
The hockey bags used to pack all the gear were donated by the Huron Perth Lakers hockey club.
The lessons on making simple beehives will be delivered by a man who knows something about wood, retired London urban forester Bruce McGauley.
Beehives can be the basis of a simple business, producing honey and wax for a family but also for sale in markets, he said.
Rotarian Heather Jerrard will coach Haitians on making a simple wood frame and mesh structure to dry mangoes in the sun.
Mangoes are a prolific in Haiti, where many people are malnourished, but much of the crop goes to waste because there’s no way to preserve and store the fruit.
The other Rotary team members will advise on managing a farm and starting a business.
“Most of these people in Haiti have nothing, but they are very entrepreneurial. They’re always looking for a way to make some money to support themselves,” Eberhard said.
On top of the teaching and advising, the team also will pick up tools to rebuild a school and community centre run by the Haitian Resource Development Foundation, a Rotary partner.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
It was hit by a massive earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 that left more than a million people homeless and led to outbreaks of cholera.
The Rotary Club of London has a long history with Haiti and a partnership with Rotarians in a suburb of the capital Port au Prince.
After the 2010 earthquake, the club helped rebuild two damaged schools and resupplied them with six shipping containers of furnishings and equipment from schools that had closed in the London area.
Last August, the London, Grand Bend and Stratford Rotary clubs filled a 12-metre container with school supplies, furnishing, water purifiers and concentrated food supplied by a charity in Cambridge.
Eberhard said officials in Aquin, which has a population of 150,000, are interested in becoming a sister city to London.
He’s had some preliminary talks with city of London officials and will be passing out London paraphernalia in Aquin, including flags and pins and photo books by Richard Bain.
Source: The London Free Press