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Our Blog: Haiti
June 18, 2013
Baseline study completed in Haiti
In May we completed a baseline study. This was a door-to-door socio-economic survey of all 698 households in Phaeton and Paulette. We hired and trained 10 local surveyors to carry out the study and coached them throughout the two-week process.  
We now have solid demographic data, including information about household economic activities – what people are doing to scrape by (a lot!); key health issues; the number of kids who are in school; the number of meals people are eating each day and how many of them are getting meals from our feeding program, etc.
A few points we found interesting:
The overall average monthly income is 1,499 Haitian gourdes, or US$35. This is an important starting point as we begin to work with community members on income generating initiatives. 
Here’s a table summarizing the current make-up of household activities.
The information collected in the survey complements and substantiates what we’ve been learning the past six months in our work with villagers to develop a strategic plan for the future.  As those plans and community dreams turn to concrete action, we will use this data to measure our progress.  
Looking back in a few years’ time, we will know in very real terms that families are earning more income; that people are eating more food with improved nutrition; that more kids are in school; that more people have access to clean water; that more goats, cows and chickens are helping provide food and livelihoods; that more women are getting the care they need during their pregnancy; and that their kids are getting the nutrition and medical care they need to thrive.  
We’re excited about the future of these two communities and we have eager and motivated community leaders ready to work with us. 
February 26, 2013
Microloans, pastries & her children's education
Gertrude Bernardin is a courageous young woman living in Cap Haitien, in northern Haiti. Growing up in a working class family, her mother sold produce on the market and her father was in the military.
She is a mom to two teenage boys, both of whom are now in secondary school. She went to secondary school but did not graduate. It was then that she decided to become a pastry chef, because she really loves to cook.
Several months ago, some neighbors invited her to take part in a FINCA ‘village bank.’ She accepted their offer and received her first loan soon after.  She has managed that loan successfully, and now is on her fourth loan from FINCA, for 10,000 gourdes or $238. She feels great with the other members of her lending group, and is really proud to be a member of FINCA. She feels she is learning a lot from her loan officer and thinks it is good for her both financially and socially, to belong to this village bank.
Gertrude regularly purchases flour, sugar, milk and eggs to make pastries that she sells on the streets and in public markets. She also sells to private supermarkets who request her pastries every day. Her business has recently begun to gain more notoriety, and occasionally she receives special requests from clients to cater events or weddings.
Gertrude is a single mother and the sole provider for her small household of herself and her two sons (14 and 17 years old). The elder son is completing his senior year this year, and hopes to study to be a doctor. Gertrude hopes with all of her heart that she will be able to pay for his education. The younger son wants to be an engineer. Thanks to FINCA’s loans, she hopes her business will continue to grow so she can realize her dreams for her sons.
February 21, 2013
Community celebrates launch of Vibrant Village projects in Northern Haiti

By Matt Van Geest

As the sun started to set, the crowd was buzzing, excited for that first goal.

The players fought tirelessly for the pride of their team so they could emerge champions. Finally, a goal!  A few minutes later, another goal and the first half ended tied 1-1. The players went into the half tired, but eager to get back out on the pitch. The halftime show was fun for all. Beyoncé wasn’t available, but the singing contest with themes on cholera prevention, the foot races and the musical chairs competition kept the crowd excited.

Haitians love soccer and this event was no exception. Hundreds of people came out to watch the final championship games of the week, one in the village of Phaeton and one in Paulette, the two communities where Vibrant Village is focusing its efforts in northern Haiti.  The event was designed as a celebration, both of the coming Carnival season and of Vibrant Village’s projects. We had spent the past few months in weekly meetings with community members to work on identifying their hopes and dreams for the future. This event was an opportunity to share those dreams with the broader community, to celebrate the completion of the revitalized water system, our first project in addition to our regular feeding program, and to just to let go for a day.

The community was grateful for the day. It was an endless flood of “Mesi Mesye Matye’s” or “Mesi Fondasyon Vilaj Vivan” (Thank you Mr. Matthew, Thank you Vibrant Village Foundation). A group of women who had been very active in the community meetings also made the extra effort of getting matching t-shirts that said “Merci FVV”, or “Thanks VVF.” That was a highlight for me.

The event marked new projects and the beginning of the newly established plans for 2013, as well as strategies and ideas for the next five years for both communities, and we intend to be working in these communities for the long haul.

The final score . . . well, it was a tie and went into shootouts . . . but what really matters is that this was a celebration of the hopes and dreams of these two communities for their future.