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Monday, June 25, 2012

From the Garden to the Table

One of H.E.R.O.’s goals is to create a residence for orphans that is as self-sustainable as possible.  To reach this goal we seek to engage in activities that promote sustainability including rainwater collection, the use of solar power, and agricultural production.  In a small, but important, step towards this goal, yesterday we enjoyed the fruits of our labor, fresh lettuce from the H.E.R.O. garden.

Our work started in the month of February.  We started our seedlings in starter cups using soil that we had composted for over six months.  Using a ditch compost system we were able to dispose of all of our fruits and vegetables in an ecologically sensitive manner.  Our first batch of seedlings consisted of two types of lettuce, yellow squash, and broccoli.  During this time, our children were also heavily involved in the process.  Every week a child was selected to take care of the seedlings, which included taking them out every morning into the sun, watering them appropriately, and replacing them into a covered shelter in the evening. 

During this time Rob, a H.E.R.O. volunteer, generously blocked off a large section of our yard that would eventually become the raised garden bed.  He worked feverishly in the scorching sun to build a beautiful, rectangle shaped bed made out of cinder blocks.  After Rob left and right before the seedlings were ready to be transplanted, the children and I dug out the rest of the composted soil and placed it into the raised garden bed.  The result was a large raised garden bed filled with healthy, vitamin-enriched soil that was ready for planting.

One month ago we transplanted the seedlings into the raised garden bed.  What I failed to mention thus far, is that not all of the seedlings made it.  At the end of the day, we successfully transplanted 10 lettuce plants, 1 squash plant, one broccoli plant, and 2 pineapples (last minute addition to the garden).  Additionally we have some wild pumpkin that has also started to grow in the garden, but we have to keep an eye on it so that it does not take over the entire space.  We learned a valuable lesson from this first round of gardening.  Our seedlings should have been started during the months of October/November, and then transplanted into the garden during February.  We started our seedlings too late this year, which resulted in them suffering from too much heat.  Furthermore, by the time we planted them in the garden the rainy season had stopped, meaning that instead of being able to use rainwater to help our plants grow, we were forced to use water that had been brought to us via a water truck.  We are ready now for our second season to start in October, with the hopes of having more success.

It was with great joy that at the beginning of this week our lettuce plants were sufficiently developed to pluck our first leaves of fresh lettuce.  After being washed thoroughly and paired with some tomatoes our children were able to enjoy H.E.R.O.’s very first harvest!  I look forward to the day when our children are able to successfully grow their very own garden, a skill that is truly important in Haiti.  We are one step closer to self-sustainability!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I spent the morning with Jason McGaughey of J/P HRO and Dan Kasnick of Union School learning about educational programs and how best to help the children of Haiti achieve academic success!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Day of Games!

Hi Everyone!

School was out for today, and our House Mother was off for two days, so I was left in charge!  Thankfully, our kids are super respectful and for the entire day they have been enjoying UNO, Chess, Legos, and Trouble!  It sure makes my day easier when they sit quietly and place nicely together!  These are truly some great kids!  Take a look!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm Back!!!

I recently completed 1.5 months of being absent from my blog!  I was quite disheartened that I didn’t receive any e-mails stating, “Where are you Steve, we miss your blog!”, or “Your blog was the best, why have you stopped writing?”  Alas, tears have been shed, and life must go on!

So much has happened in the past month that it is impossible to share it all here.  What I can tell you is that Haiti is steadily moving forward and making progress.  Partners in Health has nearly completed their teaching hospital in Mirebelais, the new 107 room Best Western is on its way to completion in Petion-Ville, and the Be Like Brit orphanage in Grand Goave has nearly completed the roof of their building that will house 66 orphans!  Despite all the negative media I am sure that you have heard over the past month, the reality is that great things are happening in Haiti, and I want to make sure that the positive message gets to the rest of the world!  Haiti is making progress!

At H.E.R.O. we are preparing for the final trimester exams that will take place the third week of June.  Our kids will take part in a rigorous summer program that will include learning English, Culinary Arts, Chess, Tailoring, Tennis, and Technology.  It is going to be a very busy summer for us and we are truly excited at all that we are able to offer our children.  Additionally, we recently enrolled 2 new orphans into our program.  Woldison and Woldjimy are 7 year old twin boys from the region of Artibonite.  It was a heartwarming experience watching our older boys help the younger ones acclimate to the H.E.R.O. House.  Makes me proud!

On a personal note, I have been hobbling now for the past 2 weeks.  I have injured my Achilles tendon and despite rest, ice, and lots of pills it has failed to heal properly.  As a result I have not been able to enjoy my morning tennis, and instead have succumbed to containers of freshly baked cookies.  Robenson put it best, “When Mr. Steve came here in 2010, his stomach wasn’t big like this.”  Thanks Robenson, he always knows the right words to make me feel better!  That’s it folks!  Until the next blog!


Steven Kirby