Because hope takes teamwork, we are honored to partner with the San Francisco 49ers. Some of the players and their wives recently visited Haiti with Convoy of Hope to serve meals, play with kids and work on betterment projects to assist our work there.
Those players have also generously committed to supporting one of our schools in Haiti, where more than 400 kids are receiving nutritious food, clean water and an education.
Think back to when you were a student. If you’re anything like me, your days probably revolved around one thing — lunch. School cafeterias all over America provide hot lunches to their students and it serves as a time to fill bellies, hang with friends and take a break from the busy schedule of a school day.
But what about those kids whose days revolve around meals because it may be the only meal they get all day? That’s where we come in.
Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding Initiative gives kids in 10 countries around the world the opportunity to receive proper nourishment through nutrient rich foods. The most obvious outcome is one less hungry child, yet additional benefits come with providing sustainable foods. Weight gain and height growth are tracked by our Monitoring and Evaluating (M&E) team to ensure the food is helping kids properly grow.
Measurements for height and weight were taken in 2014 and are being taken again this year to track the development among children in the feeding initiative. Grace Heymsfield recently visited Haiti to help with the measurement process. While there, Heymsfield and the M&E team ran into a few challenges.
“Some issues were quickly recognizable,” says Heymsfield. “Where there is one child named ‘Mackenlove’ or ‘Jean Pierre’, there’s about twenty others.”
This challenge, among others, does not deter Heymsfield from striving to reach her goal of gathering the ‘end result’ measurements that were started in 2014. She says she can always find a greater purpose for her work. Giving children nutrient rich foods does not only help them grow, but also gives them a better chance of doing well in school. When a child is given the opportunity to grow, become stronger, and focus in school because of the food provided to them, every trial that accompanies the process becomes worth it.
“We learned to find beauty in the challenges and adapt to different situations,” Heymsfield claims. “At the end of the day, I think the whole team felt a sense of a job well-done.”
A job well-done will ensure children in Nicaragua, Haiti and all over the world have a good meal, which will help them stay focused in school and grow into healthy young adults.
Today, as the world marks the 5th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake in 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands and caused mass devastation, we take note of the incredible journey we’ve taken with the Haitian people.
On that fateful day in 2010, Kevin Rose, senior director for international programs, was on a trip to Haiti that started like any other. Convoy of Hope had already begun a feeding program in the country where we were feeding around 25,000 children; Rose was in Haiti to monitor the program.
“Our feeding program was in its infancy, but of course the events of January 12th changed that,” says Rose, recalling the day of the earthquake.
In fact, the events of that day not only changed the lives of the Haitian people, it also shaped the trajectory of Convoy of Hope. Immediately after the strong tremors shook the island nation, Rose and a few others were in the streets assessing the insurmountable damage and beginning what would become one of the biggest disaster response efforts in Convoy of Hope’s history.
Because of our strong alliances with partners and organizations, we were one of the first humanitarian aid groups to distribute food to earthquake survivors. Within weeks, we were able to distribute millions of meals and install water purification units in some of the hardest hit areas of Port-au-Prince.
We’ve been on the ground and have continued work in Haiti ever since. Through our budding Children’s Feeding Initiative in Haiti, we’re now feeding more than 62,000 children every school day. That’s more than 37,000 more than we were feeding before the earthquake!
We’ve also piloted an Agricultural Initiative in Haiti, where we are teaching farmers the skills they need to produce crops that yield significant returns. The farmers are now able to feed their families and provide food to our Children’s Feeding Initiative.
The good news doesn’t stop there. Along with our generous partner, Mission of Hope Haiti, we’ve built a new 30,000 square-foot warehouse just outside Port-au-Prince. The new facility helps us work more efficiently in preparation for natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
“To be a part of the transformation and healing of the Haitian people has truly been a humbling experience for us as an organization,” says Hal Donaldson, president and co-founder. “Thanks to the many individuals and partners who have supported our efforts over the last five years, we’ve saved lives and brought hope to tens of thousands of hurting people.”