We were delighted to welcome our Ambassador, Clodagh McKenna, to visit our programmes in Haiti for the first time in early September.
Clodagh joined a group of influential Irish business people – including Managing Director of East Coast Bakehouse, Michael Carey – taking part in our Enterprise Trip. Together, the group spent some time exploring our programmes on the ground, meeting project participants, sharing their experience and getting a true sense of daily life in Haiti.
Arriving into the bustling capital city of Port-au-Prince, the group set off on the three-hour journey to the Cavaillon Valley to visit the Christine Farm. This programme trains local farmers in the best agricultural practice and allowing them to apply for funding to establish their own chicken farms. At the moment, Haiti imports between 30 and 40 million eggs every month, so there is a huge opportunity for domestic production here. While at the farm, the group also helped the participants to plant mango trees, before enjoying a ‘farm to table’ lunch, showcasing the first-rate produce grown there. Clodagh was so excited by what she saw that she set up a fundraising page, hoping to raise €5,000 to support three families to set up their own chicken farms: over the course of her time in Haiti, she, in fact, raised an unbelievable €27,000, which will change many lives in Haiti.
Income Generation Programme
Moving on to the island of Île à Vache, Clodagh and the group visited the St François d’Assise Orphanage, which more than 30 local children, many of whom live with disability, call home: part of the funds raised by Clodagh will go towards the orphanage. Later, the group saw all the different aspects of our Income Generation programme, which you can read more about in the following pages. Meeting some of the 350 fishermen who have benefitted from the boat-building project, they were proud to tell Clodagh that, thanks to their new and repaired boats and nets, they can now sell their fish mainly to Port-au-Prince, but keep enough to feed their families. The scale of this programme is unprecedented for Île à Vache, and is bringing considerable improvements to life on the island, especially coming after our Shelter Upgrade programme. This saw the repair of over 2,000 homes across the island, with families themselves leading all the building work. Clodagh and the group got the chance to visit some of these houses, even coming across one man who was right in the middle of fitting a new roof – given to him by Haven!
Across the island, Clodagh spent time with those participating in our Chache Lavi programme. There, local men and women benefit from intensive business and personal development training, before receiving a bursary to set up their own businesses: over 120 people took part in the first year alone! Clodagh met with some of the entrepreneurs – including a beauty oil producer, hairdresser, food wholesaler and much more – and cooked a stunning meal with them, using both their products and fresh fish caught earlier that day by local fishermen. Everyone greeted the group with real warmth, encouraged in their own business ventures by the experience and success that Clodagh and the entrepreneurs have had.
Visiting the CHREPROF centre in Port-au-Prince, which offers vocational training to women experiencing poverty, on her way to the airport, Clodagh gave a talk to the women there. Speaking of how they themselves can make a real difference in Haiti, this was a fitting end to Clodagh’s time in Haiti.
The trip left an incredible impression on Clodagh and every member of the group, and we’d like to thank them all for joining us. Reflecting on her time in Haiti, Clodagh says, “the more Haitian families that are able to sustain themselves and find their own source of income, the more Haiti can pull itself out of the past. They are good people, they want that… There is not an hour that passes that I don’t think about Haiti”.