Women’s Empowerment Initiative: Prescribing Vegetables in Haiti
We’re excited to tell you about a new Seed Programs International partner in Haiti who is taking a different approach to improving the quality of life for Haitians in rural areas. Vision for Haiti is a US-based nonprofit organization that has been responding to emergencies and ongoing need in Haiti since 2010. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Beatrice Marseille, a nurse practitioner who founded Vision for Haiti and developed an innovative approach to community health.
Vision for Haiti operates a healthcare clinic in Meyer, a town two hours southwest from Port-au-Prince. In addition to general care, the clinic specializes in women’s health and diet-related health problems. A majority of their patients are women who are seeking healthcare services for themselves or their children, although men are also welcome and receive services. High blood pressure, diabetes, and other nutrition and diet-related health problems are some of the most common issues within the community — the causes of which can be addressed by accessing nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables.
The nurses and doctors serving the community don’t rely on prescriptions alone to treat these issues. In addition to a prescription, folks who attend the clinic also receive SPI seeds to grow some of their own food to feed themselves and their families. In addition to SPI seed, Vision for Haiti provides locally sourced seeds. This makes us happy; we encourage the use of high-quality local seed where it is available.
Beatrice also highlighted some additional benefits of the gardening program: improved nutrition, economic power, and psychosocial well-being. Gardens provide fresh vegetables, which are high in nutrition, and the work from gardening provides both exercise and a sense of well-being. These are important components for the physical and mental health of their patients, and it also reduces reliance on medication to manage health issues. Because they are gardening and training together, patients are contributing to improved social interactions and community cohesion. Gardening gives patients the opportunity to give back to their families and community in an important way. Finally, growing their own vegetables also means that they are able to spend money they would normally use on food for other necessities.
Beatrice and Vision for Haiti have a long history and deep experience providing health services to the Mayer community. By focusing on one community and managing the scope of their program, each gardener is more fully supported. They have worked hard to establish relationships with community members and local healthcare providers. Vision for Haiti’s demonstrated expertise and deep relationships form a foundation from which gardeners can learn how to benefit from the program and enroll other community members.
We’re honored to work with folks like Beatrice and Vision for Haiti, and we’re inspired by their long-term approach to family and community health. From us, for Vision for Haiti, and from Sweet Blossom Gifts, thank you for your support of this project through the Women’s Empowerment Initiative!
Women’s Empowerment Initiative: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
Back in February, we shared an update from GrowEastAfrica, one of Seed Program International’s lead partners in Ethiopia whose programs serve several women’s agricultural groups. Positioned at something of a crossroads for Kenyan – Ethiopian IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), GrowEastAfrica is constantly adapting their program to accommodate the shifting political climate and resulting change in their communities. SPI recently had the privilege of catching up with co-founder Yohannes Chonde about what’s happened since the spring.
The Liberia Agricultural Academy: Teaming Up with Women and Children
Last May and June, we shared a few stories from REAP, a member of SPI’s Liberia Partnership Network. REAP offers agricultural skills training, education, and other support services to women and children who seek to establish sustainable and resilient livelihoods.
Women’s Empowerment Initiative- On the Road in Guatemala with Pop Atz’iaqNaima Dido, SPI’s Program Director is on the road this month with Nancee Neel in the mountains of Guatemala, where they’re working to grow a deeper partnership with a local group, Pop Atz’iaq. Established in the 1990s, Pop Atz’iaq has focused on craft-based livelihood development with women and men in the region around San Cristobal in Guatemala.
About one year ago, we told you about a pilot program with SPI partner GrowEastAfrica (then DBCO) to establish community vegetable gardens in Billa village and Soyama town in Ethiopia’s Burji region.
East Africa Update. Last month, we told you about Mary and Esther — how access to good vegetable seed and agricultural support from SPI’s partner, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK), changed how they sustain their livelihoods.
Empowerment Partners: Seed Savers Network Kenya & Seed Programs International
Partners are critical to Seed Programs International’s work. We could not do what we do without them. We’ve shared stories about one of our East African partners, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK), in earlier posts and we’d like to tell you another story from our partnership.
Honduras: Women Taking the Lead in Community Development
Part 2 of 2, August 2017
In last month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative story, we introduced Seed Programs International partner, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), who is working with local farmer groups in field schools and community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras.
Honduras: Women Taking the Lead in Community Development
This month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative story comes from Honduras, where Seed Programs International partner, FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers), is working with local farmer groups to lay a foundation for self-sustainability through community-led education and local seed production. Farmers are organized into field schools (ECAs) that train community-led farmer research teams (CIALs) over five regions in Honduras.
A typical woman in Liberia has a lot of work on her plate in addition to the work of managing her household. And to be clear, this is work, often unpaid and unacknowledged — gathering firewood, fetching water, cooking, hand washing clothes, and taking care of family members. Household work can be a huge burden that limits a woman’s ability to take on paid employment or broaden her skills through training and education.