What has 70 calories, almost every essential vitamin and mineral, many other beneficial food components and is best produced between 7 am and 11 am? Would you believe that it’s an egg?
One large egg contains 6 grams of protein, varying amounts of vitamins A, B6, B12 C, D, calcium, riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, and choline, and antioxidants. Eggs have been shown to help build muscle strength, help brain function, improve eye health; and the choline in eggs promotes a healthy pregnancy. Egg protein is thought to be the highest quality of protein. It is the standard by which other protein sources are measured. And most eggs are laid between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.!!!
The RICUCC Haiti Task Force has learned more about eggs over the past year than they could ever have imagined. About two years ago, when a group was in Haiti, we saw the results of yet another natural disaster–Hurricane Sandy. Much of the farm land was washed away. Now, Haitians, who had grown their own food, were left with land that was hard-caked mud. In a country with very little physical infrastructure for transporting goods and a 70% unemployment rate, this was truly a disaster. Schools reported that many children had to move to find more food, and many children that remained were too hungry and ill to come to school.
On the plane ride home from that trip, we met a family, originally from Haiti, but now living in New York, that had been struck by the same conditions in their hometown. Before we landed at JFK, we had formed a bond around getting something in place that could address the hunger and malnutrition we had both seen on that trip.
As a result of those conversations, One Egg Haiti was hatched (pun intended). An organization, named One Egg Rwanda was successfully addressing malnutrition in Rwanda by providing a hard-boiled egg to preschool children every day. Could we achieve the same results in Haiti?
Indeed we could. Now in Haiti, One Egg is working in partnership with Chancel, a U.S. based social enterprise founded by the family we met on the plane, and the RICUCC Haiti Task Force to provide eggs to children in seven child centers that serve impoverished children. Eggs are purchased from Haiti Broilers, a local company that operates a state-of-the-art model poultry farm outside Port-au-Prince. As of today, approximately 500 children are receiving one egg a day. It costs about $60 to provide one child one egg a day for one year.
Feeding the children is necessary and we plan to add more children to the program. However, this is not the ultimate goal. The program will only make a permanent change for Haiti if the Haitian people can find a way to help themselves. There’s a plan for that as well.
Communities will be encouraged to start their own poultry farms. With technical support from Haiti Broilers, seed money from the One Egg Haiti partners, and hard work on the part of community members, poultry farms will be built. Eggs can then be purchased from local poultry farms. The market for eggs in Haiti is enormous. The farms will not only provide the eggs for their own children, but they will produce eggs to be sold for profit in the marketplace.
And one more benefit. The farms will provide jobs for Haitians in this economic environment where jobs are scarce and unemployment is high. A win, win for everyone.
For more information or to make a donation visit: www.oneegg.org. ->Chapters -> Haiti.
To learn more about the RICUCC Haiti Task Force, visit www.richaititaskforce.org.
Written by Suzanne Swanson, currently in Haiti and vice-president of the Haiti Division of the RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.
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