Through 17 newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, all countries have pledged to work together to End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (Goal 2). Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are already working on this goal in Haiti. Notre Dame Family Education Center (NDFEC) serves 90 children and 60 adults in the impoverished neighborhood of La Savane on the outskirts of Les Cayes. Directed by Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis, NDFEC is supported by Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (http://www.ndmva.org/) Haitian volunteer-teachers, adult professional volunteers, and regular youth volunteers.
As reported by Caitlin Clarke, ND Mission Volunteer, streets in La Savane are unpaved, houses are made from salvaged materials, water must be obtained from wells in the streets, and no municipal latrine system is in place. Unemployment and illiteracy rates hover around 80%, and 60% of the children are unable to afford school fees so they drop out before 6th grade. One of the reasons childhood malnutrition rates are so high in La Savane (80% of children eat only one meal a day) is unemployment; parents are unable to afford more than one meal a day for their children.
NDFEC (https://vimeo.com/123042780) has three programs that focus on food security and nutrition:
- NDFEC’s St. Julie Youth Group started a garden on an acre of land outside of Les Cayes. In October they harvested seventy-five pounds of corn which was distributed in one- or two-pound bags to 40 members of the center, and used to provide two hot meals to the children (about 60 children served). The youth group then planted black beans and vegetables to be harvested and distributed among the youth group and families at the center.
- NDFEC is developing a local community garden at the center. Facilitated by ND Mission Volunteers and children who attend the center, the garden will provide food and nutrition education and enable children to learn how to grow their own food in an urban setting.
- To bolster employment and generate income, NDFEC will open a community bakery to give a means of employment for 20 families at the center and provide an affordable food source to the community. Profits of the bakery will be re-invested in the community via the micro-finance and scholarship programs available at NDFEC. https://vimeo.com/129126711