This morning we made two stops. The first was to a meeting of a woman’s association. This is a group that meets every week for prayer and to discuss their common issues. It was a wonderful meeting for us because we got to hear first-hand from the women in the community about their hopes and challenges. Many of the older women had large families, several with 8 to 10 children. The younger women more commonly have 5 children. The ADP program is helping these women to have more control over the size of their families. One of the most important ways to address poverty is to avoid having more children than you have the resources to support, These women are gaining the knowledge and understanding to be able to do this.
I was surprised how many of the women were single parents. I was also surprised how many of these women had taken orphans into their already large families. These women have great hearts.
The women were asked if their situation had improved since the start of the World Vision ADP program. The response was a resounding YES. They were able to explain what a huge difference the ADP program has made in their lives in so many ways. It was very rewarding to see that the work we support has such a huge impact and is so greatly appreciated.
We asked the women what their greatest challenges were. The answer was unanimous – education. Although most children now go to school, World Vision does not cover all the costs for education. Instead, families must pay part of the costs of their children’s education so that they retain a sense of ownership. For large families, these costs for education can be quite a burden. The second issue raised was water. It is very difficult for women to get the water they need for daily use in their homes.
I was so thankful for their openness. I was able to tell them with all honesty at the end of the meeting that I would have been happy to come all the way from Canada just to hear what they had to say in this meeting.
For there, we went on to see the goat project. The goat is a very economically important animal in Haiti. The milk produced is critical for health and the breeding and selling of goats generates a lot of income. However, the common breed of goats in Haiti is very small and produces little milk.
The goat program addresses this problem in two ways through introduction of a superior breed of goats. First, the goat program allows people to bring their female goats to the center to breed them for a small fee. The offspring of such breeding results in a much improved animal. Second, goats are raised and are distributed to families in the ADP. There is no cost to receive the goat, but the one of the first goats born must be returned to the center so that it can be distributed to another family. Since the goats normally have 2 to 3 offspring, this approach allows many families to benefit from goat distribution, and in time the superior breed of goats can replace the existing breed.
The people who run this center are providing training so that when the ADP program comes to an end, this center will be self sufficient and can continue to benefit the community.
We had an opportunity to meet some of the families that benefited from this goat program. This new breed produces animals of about twice the size that produce many times more milk and so the benefit to families is dramatic. It is great to see how this simple program can make such a huge difference in the lives of people in this community.