Holy Cross Church/School partnered with First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA
La Gonâve Haiti
June 6, 2011
While our Mission team was visiting our Partner church/school in Nouvelle Cité on the island of La Gonâve in January of 2008, we noticed that school enrollment was down and many of the children showed signs of malnutrition. The possibility of a school lunch program was discussed as a potential nutritional remedy with the additional benefits of both increasing regular attendance as well as raising academic performance. The Haitian food shortages along with skyrocketing prices in April of that year brought a sense of urgency.
Once a Proforma was received from the Priest in charge, funds were sent for the purchase of the utensils and supplies needed to begin. Cooks were hired to prepare and serve a hot lunch to the students and staff two days a week. All of the supplies and the water needed were carried to the school either by truck (if available) or by the cooks and other adults. The food was prepared and cooked outside the classrooms in large iron pots over charcoal fires.
When lunch was ready, the older students picked up the plates two at a time and carried them to each classroom where children sat waiting for what was often their only meal of the day. Only when everyone was served, and the blessing was said, did they begin to eat. After lunch, the plates and spoons were picked up and returned to the cooks who washed the items outside in large pans and buckets.
In January 2010, during our yearly health fair, we found that the students looked healthier with fewer signs of malnutrition. The teachers reported better school attendance as well as improved academic achievement. While we were visiting, Haiti was hit by a devastating Earthquake that changed the lives of many Haitians as well as those of our mission team and people watching around the world. Schools were no longer in session and survival became the number one priority. Many trips were made to the island of La Gonâve with supplies donated from throughout the Atlanta area. During this time, the lunch program also continued serving a meal two days a week to anyone in the community in need.
After reviewing the positive results of this program with the Priest in charge of the school, we requested a Proforma for construction of a three room building used for food preparation, cooking, storage and dining. Following committee approval, construction began in July of 2010.
This new facility was dedicated with great joy in January 2011 during our mission visit with our Partners. With the continued support of the church, and many others in our community we are currently sending funds for 178 children and staff to enjoy a hot lunch three days a week during the school year. The results are amazing and gratifying. This program is changing the lives of these children, offering them hope for a better life through improved health and education We pray that one day this program will be able to expand to offer each child a meal on every school day.