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Last month, Westbow founder Dick Westeringh, along with a small team of Westbow employees and members of Hungry for Life, took a trip to Haiti to check in on a few of our initiatives. After seven and a half hours in the air, our team landed in the commune of Pignon, and were quickly met by Jean Jean and Kristie; our liasons within the community. The goal of this trip was to gain insights on how the community is structured, get an update on the state of current initiatives, and look for new opportunities for future initiatives.

Our team’s trip started with a tour around Jean Jean and Kristie’s projects, which included group interviews with Elementary and University students to learn how education is having an impact on both a personal, individual level as well as becoming a source of transformative change for communities. The team also visited other important projects, such as the feeding program Jean Jean and Kristie have put together, and the student agriculture project, which teaches students important life skills while they learn how to grow their own food. Another highlight from this trip is that founder Dick Westeringh had the chance to catch up with the dad of one of his adopted children!

Our team also had the opportunity to assess and learn about the challenges the community faces. One of them is made evident through the relationship between infrastructure and access to education. Roads that are in poor condition or that have not been paved make the commutes to schools difficult, long, and tiring. Then, there’s the issue of rivers and lack of bridges to cross them. In Haiti, there is a particular river which grows during the rainy season. At first sight, it does not seem like a particularly difficult issue. However, once the river overflows its own channel, transportation from both of its sides is made extremely dangerous. Children aren’t able to get through and, while a bridge is the most logical solution, it’s not the easiest. There are legal procedures to go through, but the government can’t afford it. Besides, the bridge would need to be sufficiently large and robust for trucks to go over.

Although these are certainly tough challenges, our team of volunteers are not shying away from them. Westbow Gives Back’s mission is to positively impact one million lives. This is not an easy task, but we understand that adversity and changing people’s lives are what make our efforts worthwhile. Stay tuned to learn how our team overcomes these challenges!