Operation Starfish - HBC Group's Commitment to Impact and Improve Lives in Haiti
Food For The Poor (www.foodforthepoor.org) and Church of the Nativity's Operation Starfish (www.operation-starfish.org) have worked together since 1998 to develop 11 nativity villages in Haiti. These village projects include more than 1,400 housing units, along with water systems, sanitation facilities, schools, healthcare, and small businesses. Operation Starfish was founded by a native of Burke, VA and is named after the Starfish Story.
Our very own Jennifer Olivera introduced this charity to the HBC Group, and has herself made the trip to Haiti over the last few years. In 2017 HBC Group sponsored the construction of a home named for Jennifer. Please be sure to enjoy the photos of Jennifer's presentation of the home to the family. In 2018, she'll be going again and HBC Group has committed to build another home for the community. We welcome your support and help. If interested, contact HBC Group for more information on how to contribute.
Their goal for 2018 is to head back to Despuzeau, 40km east of Port-au-Prince, and continue to help in any way they can.
Construction of Housing Units
About 2,500 people currently live in rural Despuzeau. They largely live in mud and stick huts with dirt floors. Many do not have beds, so they sleep on the dirt. When it rains, they gather in a makeshift church building because their huts leak and become muddy.
Operation Starfish plans to continue to build more houses this year. Each house includes two rooms, indoor toilet, outdoor attached kitchen area and solar lighting. Existing structures will be demolished and the occupant will own the land and house free and clear after 3 years occupancy.
School Construction and Outfitting
About 280 children are currently receiving instruction for half a day in a combination of locations: a church building, an open shed, and a dilapidated former sewing school structure. The building are in very poor condition and there are no bathrooms or electricity. There are many more children who could attend school but cannot afford the small amount needed for tuition, books, and uniforms.
Groundbreaking for the new school occured in 2017.
Animal Husbandry Business
90% of the population of Despuzeau live with an income of less than $2 per day. Jobs are scarce. Most families subsist on 1 meal per day - usually rice, pea soup, and maybe a few cut up vegetables.
After input from the community, Food For The Poor recommends an economic empowerment project with egg laying chickens, broiler chickens, pigs, and cows. A co-op arrangement will provide jobs and income for about 80 families.
Most community meetings, visiting clincis, and social events take place either outdoors or in the church building, which is also used for school sessions. This structure is not in good condition and does not have toilets or lighting.
A community center is needed to provide space for meetings, vocational training programs, shelter during storms, and social events. Such a center would be operated to provide jobs and revenue from rentals.