Haiti: Food for Peace Aims to Alleviate Hunger
"There are times I would give my remaining 10 gourds to my children, then go to church all day and tell myself I was fasting; it helped me cope with the hunger."
Those are the heart-wrenching words of Belmise Petit, a 50-year-old mother of six who is one of beneficiaries of the Food for Peace-USAID food voucher program. Belmise doesn't have steady work – her severe arthritis pain makes it impossible for her to continue earning an income by doing laundry work. Yet, she alone is the sole provider for the household and she struggles to find food for herself and her children.
"One day," she recalls, "I was feeling desperate, the children were hungry and I had nothing to give them. I resigned myself to go begging by the mayor's office. There was a lot of commotion when I got there. I went inside to see what it was about. I met a young lady who asked me if I was there to register for theprogram.I did not know what she meant. She went on to explain to me what it was about. I could not believe my ears. I felt like the sky thought God must have listened to my prayers and guided my feet there today. "
The Food for Peace-USAID food voucher program, implemented by CARE, helps meet the needs of the poorest of the poor by them providing electronic vouchers redeemable for food. Beneficiaries exchange the vouchers with merchants to obtain nutritionally-balanced foods. The program serves to not only provide healthy foods for participants but also allows beneficiaries to use whatever earn they do earn to on additional food and/or sustainable food sources, such as the purchase of livestock or land.
In the first phase of the project, 12,000 beneficiaries were served in nine communities; 5,708 families in five more communities are being served in the second phase.
|Â© 2013 CARE|
Belmise now can go to the grocery store once a month. She uses her electronic voucher to buy items, such as rice, beans and cornmeal to feed her family, including her two grandchildren from her eldest daughter. Belmise also helps her neighbor, who's also struggling, but unlike Belmise, wasn't nominated to participate in the program. "We do what we can to help each other; she lives so close to me, I could never eat while knowing she's hungry."
When asked what she will do at the end of the six month project, she replies, "I pray to God every day for the responsible of this program. I ask him to cover them with blessings so they can continue to help us."