In Thibeau, Haiti, an area debilitated by malnourishment and an unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent, this is the reality of many; however, one nonprofit is aiming to diminish these hardships by helping feed these families with hope and form a path out of poverty.

Part of the iF Foundation, the Haitian Pride Poultry program was launched last August, and provides a nutritious breakfast to 400 students at two schools — eggs distributed from two poultry farms also set up by the foundation.

The program is part of an overarching goal to equip the region with the tools necessary to stand independently on its own feet.

“That’s our main focus,” says Eileen Spencer, director of development of the iF Foundation. “[It’s] to empower Haitians so they can provide for their own livelihood.”

“That’s our main focus, to empower Haitians so they can provide for their own livelihood.”

Working together

HPP’s platform is one founded on the ideal of community. Since the program’s inception, two people have been employed at each of the poultry farms, as well as three cooks and one supervisor for the breakfast program.  Eight roadside businesses have been established, including egg sandwich stands and a hard-boiled egg cart.  The initiative has also helped to revitalize local business: Two local vendors supply bread for the students’ sandwiches. Two-thirds of the eggs from the poultry farms are distributed to 19 egg resellers, while the other one-third is donated for students’ breakfasts.

“Prior to the breakfast program, some parents said their children would not attend class because they were hungry,” says Edlyne Cange, one of the country program directors.

Cange, along with Jean Magnus Regis, another country program director, are both native Haitians who help oversee HPP, making sure salaries are paid and operations run smoothly. They helped supervise training of the farmers, who were educated by poultry experts in biosecurity to ensure only top-quality eggs are sent to vendors and the schools.

Making a difference

“We are here in this community as an example that no matter where you are from, you can do good for your community,” Regis says. Cange echoed Regis, saying, “We had the opportunity to make something out of our lives, so we take great pride in being able to help other people do the same.”

The biggest challenge, Cange says, is purchasing feed for the chickens at an affordable cost because only one local supplier exists. Finding the equipment and materials to operate is the primary struggle most businesses in Haiti face because most things have to be imported.

This year ,the iF Foundation is spearheading a new program to help northern Haiti become more economically independent. Although still in the works, the initiative will help train farmers on how to increase crop yields and income. For now, the poultry program will act as a model for addressing social problems in Haiti — problems that make it tough for many to rise from destitution, says Tom Iovino, founder and president of the iF Foundation.

Overcoming obstacles

“The challenge is to build upon this small success,” Iovino says. “Our work will not be finished until basic needs have been satisfied and the Haitian people have the skills and resources to control their own destiny.”

Cange agrees: “We want people to empower themselves. We don’t want them to rely on us  — [that] even if the foundation isn’t there, they can survive on their own.”