Boca Grande Friendship Village, a picturesque community that’s nestled between majestic mountains, dozens of fruit trees, a river, and an ocean has transformed the lives of hundreds of people in Pierre Payen, Haiti. Thanks to the caring residents of Southwest Florida’s Boca Grande community, pastel colored houses now sit in a valley that was once occupied with mud huts.
“Boca Grande has been a tremendous blessing for many families in Pierre Payen, but most importantly, they’ve restored hope and the desire to dream again into the lives of so many,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “To help the residents of Friendship Village to become even more self-sustaining, Boca Grande completed their second phase earlier this year, which included a nine-room basic school, 22 more homes with sanitation and cisterns, two solar-powered street lamps, 150 more fruit trees and a cow farm.”
The Boca Grande Hope for Haitians Committee was working through Food For The Poor to build homes in the Artibonite Region of the country long before the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in 2010. Later that year, 40 double-unit homes equipped with kitchenettes, sanitation and 200-gallon plastic water cisterns to collect rain water were constructed. A water treatment system for the entire community, 500 fruit trees, an animal husbandry project, a community chicken farm, a community center with a solar-powered system to provide electricity, and a five-room vocational school were also provided.
“I had to stand all night when it rained in the past. I had no place to lie down because of the mud inside the house. Now, I can sleep when it rains and not get wet,” said one Friendship Village resident. “No one in the past would let their kids even come to the village because it was considered too backwards. Now, everybody comes to visit us,” said another.
Ben Scott, chair of the Boca Grande Hope for Haitians Committee, has now turned his focus toward Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, and the town of Michaud. Progress is taking place, but not fast enough for the hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims who are still living in tent cities nearly two years later. It has become the goal of Boca Grande to build as many homes as possible, with the help of Food For The Poor, for earthquake survivors.
“Our next project will begin in February 2012,” said Scott. “There are more than 500,000 people who are still homeless, but we have to focus on helping one family at a time.”
Michaud is a small, impoverished town with approximately 10,000 residents and was once considered the backyard of Croix-des-Bouquets. It sits in the middle of farmlands, which land owners used to cultivate sugar cane for the Haitian American Sugar Company in the mid-80s, before its closure. Today, residents rely upon seasonal agriculture for survival, mainly millet and some sugar cane, which they sell in the marketplace.
Boca Grande’s goal through Food For The Poor is to provide 40 families in Michaud with 40 double-unit houses, which will include sanitation units and water tanks. Each family will also be given two solar-powered lanterns; four solar-powered street lamps will be installed in the community in 2012.
Scott, along with donors of the Pierre Payen project and Food For The Poor staff from the Coconut Creek office will be traveling to Haiti the week of Nov. 14 for the dedication of the village and the nine room basic school.
Committee members include: Ben and Louise Scott, the Rev. Gary Beatty, the Rev. Jerome Carosella, the Rev. Read Heydt, George and Lois Castrucci, Patricia Chapman, Ray and Iliene Corcoran, Charlie and Florita Field, Lou and Corie Fusz, Stephen and Susan Jansen, Tom and Nancy Lorden, Colvin and Madelaine McCrady, and John and Pauline Mendez.
Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6079