We are often asked exactly HOW ending world hunger by 2030 — just 12 years away — is possible. Hunger is one of the biggest problems in the world, and if it was easy to solve, it probably wouldn’t exist. It’s an exhausting task to think about confronting, but I’m here to tell you: we are closer than you might think.
In March, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit our Siloe Agricultural Initiative (SADI) project in Haiti with our Chief Impact Officer, Edna Ogwangi. Having little background in agronomy, but eager to see for myself the impact Rise Against Hunger is creating, I packed up my camera (along with a ton of sunscreen) and jet setted off to Gonaives, a community in Northern Haiti. Reflecting on this incredible trip, I’d like to share five reasons why “This is possible.” in Haiti:
- This is possible.: Rise Against Hunger’s SADI initiative, in collaboration with partner Hearts and Hands for Haiti, sponsors two water wells, a five-acre farm, an aquaculture system, a drip irrigation system and a hired agronomist. In just three years, we have seen tremendous results. A once desert-like land is now producing a wealth of crops. I’ll reiterate, I’m not a trained agronomist, but looking at the before and after pictures below its clear to see the true impact of this project. Now, imagine if we could scale this initiative out to every community in Haiti.
- This is possible.: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I’ve heard this saying over and over, but during the week in Haiti, I finally understood what it meant. Watching Edna visit the SADI project taught me that one of the keys to ending hunger is empowering people in the communities we serve. At Siloe Mission, this is THEIR project, and yes it’s our job to monitor the progress, BUT they are the ones actually doing the work and learning from it. Through goal setting and a brainstorming session, I was able to witness Edna empower people to come up with solutions to problems they’ve crossed — the biggest being access to water.
- This is possible.: The wealth of knowledge in this country is abundant, and people are eager to learn. In the past year, our support has hired a full time agronomist, Telson. Telson teaches a youth agriculture class to students where they not only learn about plants and farming, but they have their own garden that they are responsible for. It doesn’t stop there, though — Telson also runs farming groups in communities where adult farmers can attend and learn skills to improve technique and increase production. The class I attended in Bas Andre had 44 adult farmers in attendance. This means that 44 people of all ages stopped their lives for one hour to learn. 44 people took notes and asked questions with the drive to provide a better life for themselves and/or families. 44 people now have a cohort of farmers they can rely on for tips and support and will bring this knowledge back to their surrounding communities — and that is just ONE of the groups Telson teaches.
- This is possible.: Rise Against Hunger meals have made a huge impact in Haiti. Since 2010, Rise Against Hunger has provided more than 50 million meals to beneficiaries in Haiti, equal to about 12 meals every minute of every hour of every day for the past eight years. I can’t put into words how it feels to see students sitting together and eating Rise Against Hunger meals for lunch — especially because the kids clearly love them. At the Philippe Guerrier school in Bas Andre, students receive our meals for lunch five days a week. The hard reality is that the students might not get another meal until they come to school the next day. Not only do the meals provide nutritional value, but when a student doesn’t have to think about feeling hungry, they can focus on their schoolwork.
- This is possible.: Haiti has an ever-growing list of natural disasters that have devastated the country, most notably, a major earthquake in 2010. Have you considered exactly how resilient Haiti’s people are? I met people who had suffered unimaginable loss, but they were still SO driven and passionate to learn, progress and not look back, and move forward. People aren’t so different, we just differ in circumstances and opportunities. The dedication I witnessed shows me that the people of Haiti will not stop, even with a task at hand as large as ending hunger.
Five days in Haiti was all it took to convince me that we ARE on track to end world hunger by 2030. Our SADI project has provided enormous impact in just three years, and now I often think what 12 more will bring. So if you ask me, I can confidently say that YES: It is possible to end hunger in this lifetime.
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