Respire Haiti has numerous programs that are open to the community of Gressier and beyond. All of these programs are Haitian run and have continued to grow. Our Saturday Feeding Program and English Classes have been around since 2011, while our Food Distribution, Water Distribution and Adult Literacy Programs began in 2016 and 2017.
Our Saturday Feeding Program was Respire Haiti’s first program. It began on Bellevue Mountain with Megan and Bernard serving food out of the back of a Tap-Tap. Hundreds of children (from babies to 16 years old) would show up for food and would also have the chance to hear a bible story, play games and meet new friends. Respire Haiti used this program to help children who were both in restavek situations as well as help children who were not attending school. This program is now led by a previous participant.
Our Community English Class originally started in 2011 by Megan inside a church, at that time her youngest student was 6 and her oldest was 77. These classes continued to grow and now we currently have 5 classes that meet twice a week. These classes are open to all of the community and we have taught hundreds of individuals English. By learning English, we help individuals have more skills. Many of our former students become translators for other organizations that serve within the Gressier Area. All of these classes are taught by Haitians fluent in English.
Our Family Food Distribution Program was started in 2016. Respire Haiti receives referrals for this program from different departments, including but not limited to the school, Medical Clinic, Mental Health and Saturday Feeding Program. Candidates of the Food Distribution Program receive a set amount of Fortified Rice from Stamp Out Starvation every Monday. The amount of rice packages depends on the size of the family. Before qualifying for the program, the family receives a home visit where they are interviewed. Once they have been determined to be in the program they will receive periodic and unannounced home visits throughout the 3 month program. After the 3 months if the family’s situation requires, the family may qualify for another 3 months
The Adult Literacy Program began in 2017 as a result of a Rotary International Grant. Less than 60% of Haiti’s population is literate. That is far less than the average of 90% in most other Caribbean countries. Anyone over the age of 18 can participate in this program, which our Haitian staff has been trained to teach the curriculum and begins with the alphabet and numbers including basic reading skills. Many parents of students in our school have attended these classes. The program restarts every 6 months and consists of three separate classes. Graduating from this class means that the adult student is proficient in reading and writing their native language of Creole and enhances their quality of life tremendously.
Our Water Distribution Program began in 2017 as a result of a Rotary International Grant as a result of a community wide needs assessment conducted by our administrators and staff in the area. Much of our community, and Haiti in general, does not have access to clean, safe water and often have to walk for miles to get it. As part of our program, we charge a minimal fee to fill 5 gallon buckets or 1 gallon jugs with clean, filtered and potable water. Every morning and afternoon our water well is open to the community for purchase. The money from the water purchase funds both the staff person who is in charge of the water distribution as well as maintenance of the water filter, making it a sustainable program that reaches hundreds of people to provide one of life’s most fundamental needs.
Haiti has an incredible amount of poverty and an incredibly high rate of unemployment, because of this Respire Haiti strives to not only educate individuals to provide the skills they need for employment, but we also desire to help individuals find employment either through our Microfinance Program or our existing business or programs.
Respire Haiti’s Microfinance Program began in 2013. Over the last 7 years we have given over $40,000 in loans to over 80 individuals throughout the Gressier community. Our loans have ranged from funding artisans equipment to helping young mothers begin businesses to assisting existing businesses grow.