Haiti & Guatemala
In 2010 a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, leaving the country in ruins and over 750,000 orphans in need. In partnership with Hunger Relief International (HRI) and like-minded organizations, we have come together to aid the orphans. We have also expanded to several villages in Guatemala. Together we have provided millions of meals in Haiti and Guatemala, but we aren’t stopping there!! We want to do more!
Diversify Food Basket
At this time, NEST and our partner, Hunger Relief International, are providing a food basket consisting of basic staples to orphanages that includes rice, beans, corn meal and pasta. However, based on UN recommendations, and in an effort to incorporate critically needed vitamins and minerals into the diets of growing children, we propose to add to, and diversify, the food basket to include at least one fortified food staple, to be determined.
Supply Water & Drill Wells
Among the 25 orphanages where NEST and HRI are working, there is no possibility of drilling wells, largely due to the lack of space and/or the lack of accessible groundwater. Some of the orphanages are located at the top of hills or in places where it is not feasible to drill wells. In these instances, NEST and HRI propose to construct water tanks of up to 5,000 gallons where water can be stored and used on a daily basis. Water can come from rain catchment systems built at the time the water tanks are put in place. The tanks can be filled as needed by water purchased (at bulk prices) from water tankers.
Several of the 25 orphanages partnering with NEST and Hunger Relief International have no regular water supply. They do not have wells on the property and are forced to purchase water (both potable and non-potable) from local vendors and water trucks. There are some orphanages that, with the appropriate funding could, in fact, have a clean, regular water supply with a well.
Additionally, in the farming communities where we purchase the food staples for the orphanages there is an alarming lack of clean water. Children and adults alike use highly contaminated water from the Artibonite River to drink, cook, and bathe. There is ample water underground to supply clean water to many rural farming communities through the provision of wells.
NEST and HRI are eager to supply water filtration systems to orphanages and farming communities in both Haiti and Guatemala that do not have, and are not likely to have good access to, clean water in the foreseeable future. There are multiple types of water filtration systems that can work depending upon the location, i.e. simple gravity fed systems that can provide up to 150 gallons of clean water per day, water filtration systems that run on electricity but are rather simple, inexpensive and easy to repair.
There are still many orphanages that prepare the food for the children over open fires that are both dangerous as children and staff can easily suffer burns, the fires are so smokey that they cause chronic respiratory infections for children and adults, and this method of cooking is environmentally disastrous. For this reason, NEST and HRI would like to provide 18 orphanages propane stoves to every orphanage that we are partnering with in Haiti.
When NEST and HRI provide propane stoves to orphanages, it is critical that we also provide a monthly supply of propane gas as it is quite costly for the orphanages to purchase on their own.
Chicken Coops & Hen Houses
In an effort to increase access to protein in the orphanages, NEST and HRI are proposing the construction of chicken coops and the provision of 10 hens and 1 rooster to 20 orphanages and 50 families in our programs in Haiti and Guatemala. These will be egg laying hens and initially will provide only eggs for consumption by the children. Eventually, as the number of chickens grows (not all eggs will be eaten), there will also be sufficient chickens to enable the orphanage or family to provide the meat to the children as well. A comprehensive training program for adults managing the project will be critical to success.
Personal Hygiene Kits
Children of all ages need to have certain personal items to ensure good care and hygiene, as well as to build self-esteem. Vulnerable and orphaned children often have very little that they can call “their very own”, but even the smallest items included in a personal hygiene kit can encourage their sense of self and dignity. Personal hygiene kits serve these dual functions.
Personal Hygiene Kits for Youngsters
Each personal hygiene kit for youngsters will include: a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small shampoo, a comb, a small hand towel and a small metal mirror.
Personal Hygiene Kits for Adolescent Boys
Personal hygiene kits for adolescent boys will include a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, deodorant, shaving cream, a razor, shampoo, a hand towel and a small metal mirror.
Personal Hygiene Kits for Adolescent Girls
Personal hygiene kits for adolescent girls will include a bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, a comb, deodorant, feminine hygiene pads, a hand towel and a small metal mirror.
Beds, Mattresses and Bedding
Some orphanages in Haiti do not have sufficient funds to provide a bed and mattress to each child. In those cases, NEST and HRI have found two children sharing a single bed. Our goal is to ensure that every child has his or her own bed, mattress and bedding. This will provide every child with an improved sense of self-worth, dignity and build self-esteem.
Shoes & Clothing
Shoes serve multiple purposes in our lives, however they are particularly important in countries like Haiti and Guatemala where parasites on the ground are easily and regularly transmitted through bare feet. In addition, in order to attend school every child must have a pair of shoes. NEST and HRI propose to ensure that every child has at least one pair of shoes and one pair of sandals.
Adequate and decent clothing are first and foremost a basic need and secondly, are integral in the entire process of helping children to develop good self-esteem and self-worth. NEST and HRI propose to ensure that all children have appropriate clothing and that all school aged children have the school uniforms required by the Governments of Haiti and Guatemala.
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus an “international health emergency”. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that has been spreading rapidly throughout Latin America and the Caribbean causing short-term flu-like symptoms, but more troublesome is it’s link to microcephaly, a serious birth defect causing babies to be born with unusually small heads and underdeveloped brains. Although there are still many unknowns regarding the effects of the Zika Virus, it is clear that as the incidence and variety of illnesses transmitted by mosquitos continues to be on the rise in the western hemisphere with no real treatment or vaccines available yet, decisive on-the ground action is needed to prevent further devastating impacts in vulnerable countries and regions.
Small and under-resourced countries like Haiti and Guatemala, with already vulnerable populations are grappling with what to do to avoid potential public health crises. It is clear that these countries need urgent assistance, particularly with reaching at-risk women in impoverished and underserved rural areas that have limited access to information and health care. NEST and HRI believe it is a critical time in this international health emergency to mobilize culturally sensitive preventative interventions, education and resources, including mosquito nets, to vulnerable populations and areas where we are already working.
Child Friendly & Focused Spaces
NEST and HRI are making a concerted effort to create spaces in orphanages and communities that support a child’s healthy physical, cognitive and emotional development. Vulnerable children need safe and developmentally appropriate areas that encourage independent and group play and learning. We are actively working to transform dull, unsafe areas into vibrant spaces that accommodate the needs of children. This includes developing a library and reading nook at every orphanage and school; painting walls bright colors; ensuring that areas are safe for babies and children to explore and play; as well as creating outdoor play areas.
Sports equipment, games, books, etc.
Children need to be active both physically and mentally, and also to have the opportunity to enjoy their time together or individually. For these reasons, NEST and HRI plan to provide orphanages with fun materials and equipment including soccer balls, soccer nets, board games, puzzles, coloring books and crayons for younger children, books to read in French and Creole, etc.
Safe, Energy Efficient Cookstoves
Open wood fired cooking stoves continue to be the norm in rural Guatemalan communities where few families can afford a better alternative. These stoves are dangerous; causing high rates of chronic respiratory illness and burns, primarily affecting women and young children. They are also inefficient; using use large amounts of firewood that can take hours each day to collect or a large portion of income to purchase. To combat this problem we are building traditional "plancha" stoves that are 75% more efficient, and are reducing health risks with an elevated cooking surface and a chimney that draws smoke out of the home.
With over 120 stoves already built, the positive effects are already in evidence with significant drops in respiratory infections, specifically pneumonia among young children who suffer the greatest from the smoke in homes without these stoves.
NEST and HRI propose to construct 100 safe, energy efficient cookstoves per year over the next 5 years.
1. Dormitories and Dining Areas for orphanages
There are orphanages that do not have appropriate nor safe buildings for the children to sleep, study, play and eat. Some do not have sufficient space for all of the children, others have not yet been rebuilt or reinforced following the 2010 earthquake, and finally there are some that are just simply poorly constructed of sub-standard materials. NEST and HRI are committed to working with partners to improve the physical conditions for children living in orphanages in Haiti, specifically the sleeping spaces, eating spaces and areas for studying and enjoyment.
Sanitation is a critical component to the health and well-being of children and adults alike. Unfortunately, it is common in under-developed countries like Haiti and Guatemala to find complete lack of acceptable sanitation, in the form of bathrooms or latrines, or for the sanitation to be poor and as a result, unhealthy for those living in or nearby the home or orphanage. NEST and HRI are poised to provide improved, decent and forward thinking bathrooms and compost latrines to orphanages and rural farming families in both countries where the lack of these facilities is directly harming the health of the children and communities.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best way to provide critical vitamins and minerals to growing children and adults. These can be purchased, of course, but home and orphanage gardens are an excellent way to teach people, particularly women, new skills and to empower them to be able to provide the nutritious foods their children need on their own. The 40+ gardens that NEST and HRI have already completed with families in Guatemala have been extremely successful and we propose to expand this project to include another 40 families in Guatemala and any and all of the orphanages in Haiti that would like to and are committed to having and caring for a garden.
4. Major construction projects
Oftentimes, as right now, we are faced with crises in orphanages where a building may be uninhabitable or a rental house either becomes too small or too costly for the orphanage leadership. In that instance, NEST and HRI work to find donors that are willing and able to partner with us in the construction of an orphanage building or buildings that will accommodate children, dining areas, study areas, child friendly spaces, bathrooms, kitchens etc. These are major projects that require significant commitment of time and finances.