Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. "The children who come to our school live in very difficult situations," explains school founder Myriam Silien, "there is a lack of everything or almost everything, especially food, without which the soul has no earthly place to thrive”. The parents of the 107 children are essentially unable to contribute financially. In an interview, Myriam Silien explains what the school aims to achieve in order to be able to offer the children a healthy school meal.
Why is it important that you can provide the children in your school with food?
There is no doubt that a balanced diet is essential for the development of the body, the emotions, and even the soul of children and adults. The children and adolescents who attend our school belong to the most underprivileged part of the population here in Haiti. If they have parents at all, they are very poor. There is a lack of everything or almost everything, especially food, without which the soul has no earthly place to thrive.
What is currently lacking most in the children's diet?
At the physical level, the child should consume, with each meal, food that contains nutrients important for the development of muscles, teeth, and bones. These foods usually come from animals, i.e., milk, eggs, fish, meat. Fruit and vegetables are the foods that help the body to function properly. And, finally, the foodstuffs that supply the body with energy and warmth, i.e., grains and roots. In general, our children mainly eat food of the latter category, because it is the cheapest. The other two remain a luxury. So what we lack most is fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
How many meals do you prepare every day?
We have 107 children at our school. But of course you also have to include the school and kindergarten teachers, and the auxiliary staff, especially the cooks. That makes a total of about 150 meals, twice a day. This approach promotes the relationship between children, teachers, and staff, while protecting the health of each individual. It strengthens the cohesion in the immediate vicinity of the school.
How much does it cost to meet these requirements?
We need about 60 euros per month per child, taking into account the dietary guidelines mentioned above. We also need modern kitchen appliances for cooking with gas to avoid deforestation. At the moment we still cook with firewood, because we have nothing else at our disposal.
How can parents contribute?
The financial contribution of the parents is virtually zero, as they themselves can barely make ends meet. However, we continue to count on their commitment with regard to cooking and organizing the school kitchen. They will be able to continue their good eating habits thanks to the education the school continuously offers them. By the way, we are also continuing to cultivate the land we own, so that in the near future we can produce as many elements of a balanced diet as possible here at our school. In this way, we will achieve a healthy, autonomous, and continuous diet. Thank god your support has made this possible! Merci!