Haiti: Ordinary Local Heroes Doing Extraordinary Work to Overcome Hunger

A story in photos

When Haiti makes headlines in the United States, it’s typically due to a natural disaster or major emergency. What doesn’t make the news: the triumphs, progress, and drive of community members, local health workers, small-scale farmers, local and national government, and other partners working together to improve health and nutrition.

Action Against Hunger has been working in Haiti since 1985. Our approach to fighting hunger is holistic and comprehensive: we target both the direct causes of hunger as well as the underlying, more hidden causes. Working with the most vulnerable communities in the north of the country, we improve access to clean water and sanitation; access to income, markets, and food; and strengthen the capacity of families and local health workers to prevent and treat acute malnutrition among children. Haiti suffers frequent natural disasters, particularly hurricanes and tropical storms, and our programs prioritize efforts to help communities prepare for and build resilience to emergencies to reduce their impact.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. These images, taken by renowned photojournalist Christophe Da Silva on assignment for Action Against Hunger, reveal an under-reported story about Haiti.

This is the story of enormous local skill, know-how, resourcefulness, and potential. It’s the story of local heroes doing extraordinary day-to-day work: mothers and fathers working for healthier futures for their children, our remarkable team members sharing their expertise and skills with their neighbors and community health workers, and leaders working in solidarity to deliver local solutions to fight hunger not just today, but for good.

HEALTHY MOMS AND HEALTHY CHILDREN

Prioritizing pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under five, we educate caregivers about proper healthcare and feeding practices to prevent malnutrition, and we screen and ensure that malnourished children get the treatment they need to recover.
 

This child’s mother is participating in training to become a lead nutrition volunteer in one of Action Against Hunger’s community mother-to-mother support groups.

This child’s mother is participating in training to become a lead nutrition volunteer in one of Action Against Hunger’s community mother-to-mother support groups.

One of the volunteers, Simeon Lucies, 64, has already trained ten moms: "We help the community, and prevent disease outbreaks."

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
Jenite Forrelus, a nurse and health education specialist, leads community nutrition trainings, specializing in improving care and feeding practices among mothers of children from 6 to 23 months.

Jenite Forrelus, a nurse and health education specialist, leads community nutrition trainings, specializing in improving care and feeding practices among mothers of children from 6 to 23 months. "As a nurse educator, I love working with mothers and children on nutrition."

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
Mothers and children pictured at a health center.

Thanks to our nutrition education programs, this group of mothers brought their children to be screened for malnutrition at the local health center, which is supported by Action Against Hunger.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti

PREVENTING WATERBORNE DISEASES

We can’t fight malnutrition without tackling the waterborne diseases that contribute to it. Action Against Hunger works to improve access to clean water and safe sanitation in Haiti by building and rehabilitating water sources and latrines, and training community members to manage water sources for years to come. We educate communities about good hygiene practices and ways how to prevent cholera, and when outbreaks occur, our rapid response team acts immediately to stop the spread of the disease.
 

Action Against Hunger teams decontaminate homes, test water sources, and hold hygiene awareness sessions.

At the first sign of a potential cholera outbreak, our rapid response teams get to work decontaminating homes, testing water sources, delivering sanitation kits, and holding hygiene education sessions throughout the community to prevent the spread of disease. Technology helps -- once a home is decontaminated, staff log them using GPS tools to keep track of the team’s work.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
A girl pumps water at a water point installed by Action Against Hunger in 2008.

A sight our team loves to see: this water pump was installed in 2008 by Action Against Hunger, and it’s still maintained and used a decade later.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
Noel Agelus talks a woman about the importance of sanitation and using latrines to prevent illness.

Noel Agelus, Action Against Hunger’s Food Security Program Manager, has worked for Action Against Hunger since 2015. "Working at Action Against Hunger is my pride. It is a school that allows its staff to master their area of intervention to help vulnerable people." He talks with community members, like this woman, about the importance of sanitation and using latrines to prevent illness.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti

STRENGTHENING ACCESS TO FOOD AND INCOME

We work to provide the most vulnerable communities with safety nets such as cash transfers and food vouchers to improve resilience and access to food and income.

To build long-term resilience to hunger, we work with local and government partners to train local small-scale farmers to improve their harvests and income. We have also set up village saving and credit networks, which helps give people more stability and resilience to shocks.
 

An Action Against Hunger food voucher distribution.

Nurse Educator Jenite Forrelus helps to oversee an Action Against Hunger food voucher distribution. Adora Amalienne, a 22-year-old single mother of three children, says,"Thanks to the coupons, I can eat products that I have never been able to buy."

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
Action Against Hunger staff pictured with a farmer in his microgarden.

"Through Action Against Hunger’s activities, we help the most needy. I am trained to work for the good of Haitians, it is my duty." Djuny Duvernoit (left) is a 28-year-old agronomy engineer working with Action Against Hunger to help local farmers to plant and cultivate nutritious “microgardens” -- the crops grown there are used to feed their families and to earn income.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti
A local woman pictured next to a pond, dug to provide water storage in the dry months.

Our Food Security programs empower local farmers to dig ponds to store water so that crops can survive the dry months. The ponds are designed to provide sustainable sources of water for years to come.

Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger, Haiti

Bonus Gallery: Haiti in Photos

Start Slideshow| 8 photos
 

Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. We save the lives of malnourished children. We ensure everyone can access clean water, food, training and healthcare. We enable entire communities to be free from hunger.