About Our Charity
Soul of Haiti Foundation
The Soul of Haiti Foundation is an Irish registered charity which was established in 2007 by a group of Irish entrepreneurs and finalists of the Ernst & young Entrepreneur of the Year Programme. Upon visiting Haiti, these business men and women came together with the strategic aim of applying their entrepreneurial skills and resources to create a positive impact on the lives of the people of Haiti. The Soul of Haiti’s mission is to exercise it’s expertise to improve the economic and social circumstances of communities in Haiti in a practical, sustainable manner. Soul of Haiti illustrates the power of engagement by the private sector in developing countries.
For more up to date news and reports visit The Soul Of Haiti website by clicking HERE
About Our Favourite Charity
To empower communities to create their own success through their relationship with a community of Irish entrepreneurs.
• We aim to build enterprises, while engaging in humanitarian initiatives as they are encountered at our project sites.
• Taking a ‘whole-community’ approach in a limited number of prioritised locations, to address a number of issues. A plan for each prioritised location will include both a number of Soul of Haiti projects and the co-ordinated effort of identified ‘partner’ organisations.
• Successfully leveraging our entrepreneurial/business skills and our ability to organise.
• Using our political and media connections in Ireland, UK and Europe, to play a role to put Haiti ‘on the map’.
Our over-arching objective is to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the people we have encountered on our visits to Haiti. The Irish entrepreneurs, members of the Soul of Haiti Foundation, have made a real commitment to use our business skills and resources to realise that aim. The potential role of the Private Sector in providing a part of the solution for countries such as Haiti is a powerful one, by working closely with the local community and with other interested organisations.
Since its establishment, the Foundation and its members have been working to create new businesses and a better future for the people of Haiti. Following the devastating earthquake on 12th January 2010 the challenge has become even greater. The Soul of Haiti Foundation is committed to leveraging entrepreneurial/business skills and an ability to organise to help the social and economic circumstances in Haiti.
The Soul of Haiti Foundation illustrates the power of engagement of the Private Sector in development, how a business approach can be applied to project management and the sustainable benefits of economic development as a means of alleviating poverty and creating sustainable livelihoods.
Ile a Vache Orphanage & Community Programme
In 2007 some of the Directors of the Soul of Haiti Foundation visited Œuvre St François D’Assise Orphanage & School and immediately knew that this would be one of their core projects. The orphanage is in a village called Madame Bernard on the island of Ile a Vache, which is off the South coast of Haiti. It is run by a Franciscan nun called Sr. Flora and is home to 70 children, 30 of whom are physically or mentally disabled. Sr. Flora also runs the village primary school where close to 400 children are taught daily.
Upon first visiting the orphanage they were struck by the poor living conditions of the children and staff. The lack of funding and resources available to Sr Flora were evident, as were signs of other organisations failed attempts at renovating the facilities.
Action & Volunteer Visits
The main challenge for Soul of Haiti was to gain the trust of Sr Flora and the staff, assuring them that we would follow through on our plans to help their situation. We have since been working to improve the living conditions, equipment and structure of the orphanage so that the staff can provide better care for the children. We now coordinate annual visits, the first of which took place in 2009 when a group of over 20 volunteers, led by Michael Cullen of Beacon Medical Group. Volunteers included builders, electricians, plumbers, and medical staff. The work achieved was phenomenal and groups of volunteers have returned every year since to continue their work in the orphanage. Since 2008 the Soul of Haiti Foundation and its Partners, have been the orphanage’s principal sponsors and has recently employed an Irish woman, Ailish O’Reilly, to offer full time on the ground management support to the orphanage.
Supporting the Local Community
The Soul of Haiti works closely with the mayor and community, assisting in the development of the market square and in the provision of training programmes for the local people. As we believe that it is the community which must define its own needs, we are very involved in the Development Committee for Ile a Vache; providing support and assistance where requested.
In 2012, with the assistance of the Digicel Foundation, we rebuilt the Kindergarten in the school and refurbished the other classrooms. Thanks to Camara, computer facilities are now available during the day for the children and in the evening for adults.
In 2013 we became more involved in the Local Medical Centre, providing a new roof and improving the general facilities and equipment. The medical volunteers continue to assist in training the staff, while also running small clinics around the island.
In 2014 we brought out a dentist and a dental assistant who ran a hugely successful clinic. Our aim is to continue with this programme and are also provide an ophthalmology service (specifically directed towards children) in late 2014.
See below what has been going on recently……….
August 2014 – Soccer League Report
August 2014 – Clean up & Football League
July 2014 – Summer Camp on Ile a Vache Blog – Week 3
July 2014 – Summer Camp on Ile a Vache Blog – Week 2
July 2014 – Summer Camp on Ile a Vache Blog – Week 1
May 2014 – W.K. Kellogg Foundation grants $390,000 to Oeuvre St Francois over 4 years.
April 2014 -New Street Lights for Madame Bernard
March 2014 – Anna Mongey (CRC) working with the disabled children in the orphanage
March 2014 - Yet another Super Volunteer Trip
Christine Model Farm
Agriculture in Haiti is severely undercapitalized. Most of the “farms” consist of 3-4 acres, which are farmed mostly by hand or animal power. Christine is located in an agricultural area near the towns of Cavaillon and Les Cayes in the south of the island. The region is massively underdeveloped and rife with poverty. Cavaillon Valley, an area of approximately 2000 hectares is basically an agricultural area which, over the past 20-30 years, has gone from a strong sugar cane and tomato production area back to basic subsistence farming. The purpose of Christine is to address this problem and create a Centre of Excellence. We believe that by introducing and demonstrating best agricultural methods on the farm and to the wider community, we can help create sustainable livelihoods, for both our own farm workers and local independent operators. Our vision is to create a model of farming and training that can be replicated across Haiti.
Christine Model Farm is a farm-to-cooperative programme established by the Soul of Haiti Foundation alongside its Irish partner Country Crest, in 2010. The farm was established with a view to creating a centre of excellence for farming practices in Haiti, with a focus on four overlapping, inter-dependent areas of activity; a Commercial Farm, a Research & Experimental Facility, a Training Centre and a Seed Bank.
Commercial Farm: By developing a farm which is economically viable, the Soul of Haiti can return any profits into the two other aspects to the project, thus creating a self-sustaining model. In doing so, the farm also provides local employment for 15 men and women.
Research & Experimental Facility: The farm has been growing a variety of crops in an effort to identify those which provide the greatest return and are best suited to the climate in the Cavaillon Valley.
Training Center: It had been noticed how the farmers in this fertile valley were all growing identical crops (maize) mainly to eat and sell at local markets. After discussion with a number of communities it became apparent that most farmers were simply doing what their fathers had done before them, with little knowledge of new approaches to, nor varieties of crop, which would provide a better return. Local Farmers now come to the Christine Farm to learn about new techniques in planting, irrigation, fertilization, crop rotation and farm management.
Seed Bank & Route to Market Program: Soul of Haiti intends to establish a Seed Bank where seeds from crops grown on the farm will be made available to local farmers at a nominal fee, provided they participate in its training program. (The Bank will also purchase seeds from outside suppliers provided the agronomists believe the resulting crop will be suitable for planting in the valley and of a sufficient standard). Once this facility is operational and Christine Farm can guarantee consistency in crop supply, from its own farm and local growers, Soul of Haiti will develop its Routes to Market Program. Customers will be identified both in Haiti and the USA allowing Christine Farm to buy back crops, grown from the seeds it has supplied, creating one route to market. This will ensure better prices for all and shall release the glut of product to be found in local markets currently prevalent during harvest time. This concept will be underpinned by Christine Farm’s ability to guarantee quality of supply through the use of its seed and the training and monitoring of farmers in the program.
The Community: We also engage with the community, building partnerships within the local area to improve education and medical facilities while also creating further enterprise and training opportunities. Soul of Haiti recently facilitated the building of a local school by the Digicel Foundation.
August 2014 – Corn Harvest & time to prepare for new planting
July 2014 – W.K. Kellogg Foundation award a Grant of $200,000 to Christine Farm
July 2014 – Damien asked to present Christine Farm to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Annual Conference as a model for NGO activity
June 2014 – Brana Begin Trials of Sorgrum on Christine
May 2014 – Open Day on Farm
St Martin Enterprise Programme
The St. Martin area of Port-au-Prince, home to between 70,000 to 100,000 people, is severely economically deprived, with high levels of gang violence and an unemployment rate of 85%. Even though it is located in close proximity to key infrastructure such as Haiti’s national port, the principal city of Port-au-Prince and the international airport, the area suffers from a lack of basic government services. Electricity supply is intermittent, there are few toilets and little to no running water.
Soul of Haiti began working in St Martin in 2011 with the aim to help stimulate economic growth in the area by empowering disadvantaged entrepreneurs to succeed in business; supporting their personal and professional development. Despite all the challenges in the area there is a strong community of emerging entrepreneurs who require this advice and training.
We provide training programs for local entrepreneurs and also partner with Syracuse University & Community Bakers International on a project which has involved the renovation of a bakery and ongoing training and business development support for local bakers.
Over time we have become more actively engaged with local community groups and run regular soccer tournaments for kids and adults. In 2012 we facilitated a number of locally led initiatives to generate community pride which included street cleaning and the painting of buildings and houses to engage the residents and local business leaders.
August 2014 – Grandoit prepares to lay foundations for extension
March 2014 – Visit to Grandoits Bakery
Check out our video of Grandoit outside his bakery
Hear Grandoits story