Browsing Category: Program Updates

Surviving a Tsunami

Now a little more than two years after Japan’s 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami, I’m traveling the island nation’s northern coastline. Each place I travel unveils two similar roads. The massive scope of the disaster and the incredible heart of the survivors. Of all the disaster areas I have been to personally, this is the most vast and severe. According to estimates by the World Bank, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami is the most costly disaster in world history.

The last few days I’ve kneeled and stood reliving two stories with survivors … unimaginable destruction and resilient hope. Here are a few run-ins with survivors who have been helped by the Amazing Grace Relief Center that Convoy of hope has helped to build and supply.

 

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Disaster Services / Program Updates

A Team of Heroes

As Pastor Hiroshi Ito opens the doors to a small storefront he explains that the building used to be a convenience store before the 2011 Japan tsunami and earthquake. The Japanese characters above the door now read “Higashi-Matsushima Amazing Grace Center.”

In the relief center that Convoy of Hope has helped to fund, there are piles of clothing, supplies, a small library, children’s activities, coffee and tea ready for distribution. Among the items are also bicycles, heaters, kitchen appliances and other needed items that were donated by Convoy of Hope through our partnership with the center.

As Pastor Ito showed us around the center, Japanese volunteers began to file in to prepare for disaster survivors who would be arriving shortly. Just as volunteers do at our community outreaches in the U.S., it was inspiring to see people coming together to help one another – no matter what nationality.

To get their attention for a group picture I call them “a team of heroes” followed by laughs, smiles and even a flex from Pastor Ito. Thank you for letting me introduce you to some of Ishinomaki’s heroes.

 

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Disaster Services / Photo Series / Program Updates

Travel Tag | NRT: JAPAN 2013-04-16

Today our Global Outreach Team landed in Tokyo to assess progress made since the earthquake and tsunami struck  Japan in March 2011. While there, the team will also be partnering locally to host a community outreach in the city of Koriyama, Japan.

Anyone ever been to Japan?

Let us know in the comments.

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Program Updates

Story of One: Jacque, Haiti

Jacque, 14, has just shown up at his school outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but he isn’t here to learn today. “I’m here to eat,” he says.

Jacque frequently comes to the school on days he doesn’t have class just so he can get a nutritious meal provided by Convoy of Hope and its partners.

“Jacque has no guarantee there is food at home, so he comes here,” says Baltazar, who runs the school. “It’s a blessing he can come here.”

Jacque lives in poverty with his mother and three siblings. His mother doesn’t work, so food is scarce at home. “I feel bad to not have food at home,” he says. “I sometimes ask the neighbor for food, or I come here where I can eat.”

Convoy of Hope and its partners have been providing food for 256 Haitian children in this school for two years.

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Children's Feeding / Program Updates
Haitian bean farmers partnering in the bean experiment. Haitian bean farmers partnering in the bean experiment.

A 5-year bean experiment

As I walked through bean fields in Turpin and Zoranje during Haiti’s last rainy season I realized the crops had contracted a virus. Unfortunately, there is no cure for these plants once infected and this particular infection came in the seed. Think of when you go to the Dr. you get, “sorry, this one’s a nasty virus, you’re just going to have to ride it out.” So, who do I call, what do I do? Standing there I realized that as Convoy of Hope’s director of agriculture initiatives, I could either take on this task or hope that another scientist with the same training at another organization happened to walk in this field and discover the same virus.

Fastforward, we went with option A. Through traditional breeding programs scientists have found virus resistant varieties of black beans. We are now experimenting to see if these varieties can grow in Haiti where food-security is a leading cause and symptom of poverty.

I just got back from Haiti where Convoy of Hope initiated a 5-year experiment and partnership with a team of USDA-ARS scientists and bean breeders. We’re testing 28 varieties of beans so experimental that most of them only have numbers for names. Their promising traits span from higher nutrient value to drought resistance. Over the next 75-80 days we will observe factors like survival, growth and disease-resistance all to determine which variety to breed next. In the end we’ll also evaluate taste, color, market and farmer acceptance, and nutritional value. The ideal is to arrive at a bean that will grow with optimal yield, nutritional make-up and market value.

This little piece of science has the potential to make long-lasting generational change in Haiti, score one for the nerds!

Note: For scientists that just have to know, this is a 5-year experiment set up in a corn/bean rotation as a complete randomized block design with 4 treatments and 3 full replicates.  

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Agriculture / Program Updates