Everyday in Haiti, we spend 4 million dollars – that we don’t have – buying rice that we don’t produce. At the same time, perfectly good Haitian food goes to waste either due to lack of access or – and this is increasingly common – disdain for the food produced locally. With Manje Lakay, the Guillaume Foundation has been, since 2007, working to help the people in Plaisance du Sud value local meat, fruit, grain and produce. We have implemented, with some success, the program’s three components with the help of the community, particularly the younger generation.
The first component is an awareness campaign through our radio station, Radio Oxygène. In this, it goes beyond the community of Plaisance du Sud to reach 4 departments in the South of Haiti. Written by Patricia Camilien – our COO – and read by Barbara Guillaume – a well-known singer and social activist, it encourages every Haitian to (re)discover our traditional cuisine. The PSA puts an emphasis of the organic nature as well as the nutritive value of local grown products and the need to eat them every day. The PSA is further supported by all the shows on Radio Oxygène with the hosts reinforce the message regularly.
The second component is a more hands-on approach and is implemented through punctual projects like the goat breeding project (with breed improvement) where with the help of the Haitian Government’s Economic and Social Assistance Fund we helped about a thousand families better their economic prospects by giving them each 2 nanny-goats with access to 30 South-African Boers male goats.
The third and last component works on changing attitudes to some food – like corn meal, ironically abandoned for the overprocessed cornflakes or lyann panye (akin to spinach and replaced by overprocessed salami) – and other locally produced articles that are regarded as only befitting the poorest among us. The Foundation regularly use local food at every events and has since started the AgriFair.