In French, the word is “manger,” meaning “to eat.” It’s a word I have heard over and over here in Haiti. I’ve heard it uttered by a hundred different voices… from a hotel terrace in Port-au-Prince, to the crumbled coastline of Petit Goave. Food is so desperately needed and so hard to acquire, making the preparation of just one meal a difficult, if not impossible task.
International Medical Corps, the Bridge Foundation, and the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti are working together to reverse this problem. With a generous donation from the Bridge Foundation, International Medical Corps has given 50 stoves from Stove Tec to Good Samaritan to distribute to vulnerable women living in two camps in Port-au-Prince.
I visited Astrel Vincent, the founder of Good Samaritan, at his home in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Marain. When I arrived, the women there – most widows with children - had already received their stoves and were smiling, laughing, and chatting. They told me that they had walked one hour from Cite Soleil, an area infamous for gang violence and crime, to pick up their stoves. “I am so glad they are a part of it,” said Vincent.
Founded 15 years ago, the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti provided medical care in the two camps, Marain and Cite Soleil, immediately after the earthquake. The Marain camp is home to roughly 700 people; the Cite Soleil camp has approximately 2,000. The stoves were divided equally between women living in the two camps.
“We don’t have much of a choice [but to do the work we are doing],” said Vincent. “I am just doing what I feel is in my faith.”
Each and every woman gave thanks for the stove, saying that it would be much easier to cook for their children now. Vincent also paired the stoves with a bag of food items, including rice, oil, sausage, and beans, so that they could prepare a meal for their families when they returned to their tents.
When I left, the women were piling into the back of Vincent’s truck, stoves and food pressed against their chests, ready to head back to their tents with the provisions they needed to feed their families.