HAITI: Students access better nutrition thanks to rice-meals
Food shipment ensures meals for students during country’s political crisis.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 7, 2023) Students attending the Salesian-run Timkatec schools in Pétion-Ville, Haiti, had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization that provides food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. The shipment provided rice-meals in the second half of 2022.
The first Timkatec school has existed since 1994 and was founded for former street children. Later, it was expanded to include local disadvantaged children who had not had the chance to attend school until ages 8-10. The vocational schools were added so youth could learn a trade for employment.
Additional rice-meals were distributed at the canteens in the three Timkatec schools and provided to students to take home during times of school closure. From July to September 2022, children were on school holidays, but the school boarders were there with social workers. They were able to access the meals during the school break.
The school should have reopened in October, but there was a political crisis in the country. Due to insecurity caused by gang violence and upheaval, all schools were closed. Salesians restarted the school year on Nov. 28 when it was safer.
Guylaine Bastien studied nursing and graduated from the Timkatec school. She is now a nurse at the school. Bastien said, “As a nurse, I am tasked with overseeing the health of the children at Timkatec. The children really like the Rise Against Hunger meals. I have noticed a significant change in the general health of the children. They have more strength and energy and fall sick less easily.”
One of the recipients was Adeler Cherry, age 17. He previously lived with his aunt but left home to live on the streets. He spent a day on the streets before coming to Timkatec, which he enjoys more than his aunt’s house.
Cherry said, “At Timkatec I eat three times a day while in my aunt’s house, we ate once a day. Before, I used to eat all kinds of food but never soy and rice, which I found delicious. It is very important for me to eat and stay healthy. Since consuming the meals, I am no longer sick. After eating, I like to go to class to learn to read and write. In the future I would like to travel, to have a house, to live well, and I know that I have to work hard for the realization of these dreams. I would like to become a tile technician so I can help my family and live my life better.”
Salesian missionaries began working in Haiti in 1935 in response to the Haitian government’s request for a professional school. Since then, Salesian missionaries have expanded their work to include 11 main educational centers and more than 200 schools across the country.
The 11 main centers each include a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers, and other programs for street children and youth in need. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Today, Salesian missionaries in Haiti provide the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government with schools providing education to 25,500 primary and secondary school students.
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