LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Jan. 12, 2012) – As Haiti and its neighbors remember the shattering earthquake of 2010, Heifer International will mark the 2nd anniversary of the tragedy with a moment of silence. In the last two years, Heifer Haiti has worked to help rehabilitate communities affected by the quake and to bolster the country's agricultural economy, and is now setting the stage for a bold new enterprise in Haiti.
The earthquake affected nearly 3,000 Heifer project families. Since the quake, Heifer Haiti has built and repaired dozens of homes, provided water filters and hygiene kits to prevent cholera, and launched a media campaign to teach residents how to protect themselves against the disease.
Following the earthquake, food supplies were strained in rural areas by the large number of refugees displaced from Port-au-Prince. Heifer has helped rejuvenate rural agricultural activities with training and resources like animals, equipment, and seeds.
Heifer Haiti is now beginning a new project called REACH, or Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation. The $18.7 million project will target over 20,000 families in Haiti, working with goats, cattle, poultry, pigs, and other agricultural inputs. The project will focus on moving families from hunger into self-sufficiency and further, into coordination of small businesses.
"Heifer International is committed to helping Haiti move forward. The country's food supply system is extremely vulnerable. With the Heifer model we can strengthen small-scale farmers' agricultural practices and empower them to become donors themselves," said Pierre Ferrari, Heifer International's president and CEO.
Now Heifer will work to further boost rural agriculture by connecting small farmers with larger markets for their products. The REACH project will create 150 animal breeding centers to increase the supply of quality animals in specific regions of Haiti.
The earthquake struck close to home for many Heifer workers and participants. Heifer employees lost family members, and project families saw their homes damaged or destroyed. As Heifer memorializes the catastrophic earthquake, it also pledges, with the REACH project, to help move Haiti into the next chapter of its history.