Tag Archives: What If Foundation

A New Slate of Projects–Part 2

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This is the second of a five-part series on BGR projects approved for fiscal year 2013–14. Thanks are due to Patti Price, chair of the Projects Committee, and Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ for preparing the material.

 7. Ethiopia: Increasing Yields of Veggies           NEW

Ethiopia-OxfamAmericaSince 1970 the international relief and development organization Oxfam America has worked with local partners to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. BGR will be partnering with Oxfam America on a project to improve food production in the Meki-Ziway area of the Central Rift Valley in Ethiopia. The project aims to apply the System of Crop Intensification (SCI) to such crops as tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, and potatoes. SCI draws on the methods that have already proved successful in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), extending them to other crops. SCI emphasizes growing bigger, healthier root systems, and enhancing soil fertility with the life in the soil. The method should increase vegetable production while reducing water use and reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Producing more while reducing costs will increase income and enhance household nutritional security among the Ethiopian farmers of the Meki-Ziway area.

8. Haiti: A New Lease on Rice          NEW

Haiti-OxfamHaiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with nearly 90% of Haitians in the countryside living in poverty and two-thirds in extreme poverty. Haiti was once self-sufficient in rice, a staple in the national diet, but rice production has sagged and it now imports over 80% of its rice. To increase the output and income of rice farmers in Haiti, Oxfam America is promoting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a method of cultivation which lowers inputs but results in rice plants that are more resistant to climate extremes, pests, and diseases. Yields can increase by 50%-150% within one or two cropping seasons. With the collaboration of local partners, Oxfam has been providing SRI training and support to roughly 150 farmers. The grant from BGR will enable them to extend the training to thirty additional farmers, both women and men. The grant will also be used to purchase labor-saving agricultural equipment vital for SRI and facilitate the rehabilitation of 5 kilometers of local irrigation canals, which are critical both to rice production and flood control.

9. Haiti: Meals for Hungry Kids

Haiti-boy-with-bagEvery weekday in the impoverished Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, over a thousand children (and a few adults) line up at the Lamanjay free meals program to receive a plate of hot, nutritious food. The U.S.-based What If? Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lot of poor children in Haiti, has worked in close partnership with members of the Ti Plas Kazo community to sustain the food program since it started in 2000. The urgency of the program increased sharply following the terrible earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010. The community served by Lamanjay includes mostly children who still live in nearby tents with unemployed parents or guardians who cannot provide the children with sufficient, nutritious food.  Other children walk miles to attend. For most of these children, the food they receive at the food program is their only meal of the day. The grant from BGR will cover the meals provided by the food program for 36 days between June 2013 and June 2014. The goal is to ensure that, as they struggle to rebuild their lives, thousands of hungry children and some adults in Port-au-Prince have access to hot, nutritious meals.

10. Haiti: Helping Kids Go To School         NEW

Haiti-WIF-studentsOne specific challenge facing Haitians today is the high cost and inaccessibility of education for the poor.  Attending school in Haiti has long been a privilege rather than a right, and half of school-aged children were not enrolled in school before the January 2010 earthquake struck. The earthquake destroyed thousands of schools, driving school costs up still higher. As a result, thousands of school-aged children in Port-au-Prince still lack formal education. It is only through education that these kids will have a chance to escape the crippling cycle of poverty. The What If? Foundation is currently providing scholarships to 194 youngsters for the 2012–13 school year, covering tuition, transportation, books, uniforms, and other fees. A grant from BGR will provide $115 per student toward the scholarship costs of 87 elementary school students. School costs range between $250 and $350 per year.

An Oasis of Safety for Kids in Port-au-Prince

Jennifer Russ

The cameras and reporters may have moved on to other stories, but the people of Haiti affected by the 2010 earthquake have not been forgotten. A report from the What If? Foundation details the support that BGR’s grant has provided for the children of the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood in Port-au-Prince: 17,000 meals over the course of six months, or over 2,800 meals per month, cooked by volunteers in a calm, safe environment that children enjoy.

The food program, known as Lamanjay in Haitian Creole, has not been without its challenges. In the first part of 2012, the program’s vehicle was inoperative. Luckily, the food program team found a man with a “tap tap” (a brightly painted independent taxi) who helped them transport the food. Another challenge has arrived along with the Haitian rainy season, which forces the cooking team to operate in a leaky temporary structure with a tarp-covered tin roof. The What If? Foundation hopes 2012 will see the construction of a new permanent kitchen and cafeteria.

Despite these challenges, the success of the program is evident in the calm order of the daily routine. Children arrive an hour before food is served to clean tables and sweep the floor with child-sized brooms. They then wait patiently for their food.  When they are finished they give up their seats to other children and take their plates to be washed. Although these children face poverty and hardships every day, Lamanjay allows them a couple of hours of safety and peace and a place where they can fill their bellies, forget their worries, and be children, if only for a little while. Continue reading

Helping Hungry Kids in Haiti

From BGR Executive Director, Kim Behan:

I would like to share the heartfelt communications from Margaret Trost, Founder of the What If? Foundation, on the occasion of the anniversary of the food program we support in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The need for these meals is still great, and many of the children coming to the food program are still living permanently in tents together with their families. For many of these children the meal they receive here is their only meal of the day.

It commonly happens that when the news disappears from the headlines, funds that would be donated to help people trapped in a crisis dry up along with the help those donations facilitate. But Buddhist Global Relief remains firm in its commitment to the poor children of Haiti. We have been supporting and renewing the food program in Port-au-Prince for the past few years and plan to continue to support it into the future. If you wish to show your own concern for the children of our island neighbor in the Caribbean, you can donate to BGR or directly to the What If? Foundation.

With metta,
Kim Behan

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