When it comes to education, The St. Luke Foundation for Haiti’s vision is not simply to educate children, but to impact communities. This means that wherever St. Luke Foundation builds a school, it also considers how to meet other needs in the community. How well can children learn if their bellies are constantly empty? If they are plagued by diseases like cholera which stem from poor sanitation? What if children have no safe place to play and just be kids? These are all questions that the St. Luke team asks about the communities of its 36 schools which serve nearly 16,000 students.
This summer, with aid from Obicà Mozzarella Bar through the Francesca Rava Foundation, an Italian based sponsor, St. Luke staff distributed 4000 bags of pasta to people living in some of the poorest parts of Haiti, including eight St. Luke schools based in the most vulnerable areas of Port au Prince. Since 2012, with the help of Obicà, the Francesca Rava Foundation has built three bakeries, one at St. Paul School in St. Louis du Sud; one at St. Yves School in Limonade; and one in Kenscoff. The foundation funded these bakeries with the agreement that children in the St. Luke school programs would be given one roll of bread everyday in addition to baking bread to sell to the community for a profit. In preparation for the opening of the bakeries, Obicà hosted four Haitian women for training at its Milan based restaurant. The 14,000 kilos of pasta paid for by the Obicà grant were produced within St. Luke’s own facility, Francisville, located in Tabarre.
Last week, students—some as little as three years old!—at St. Marc, St. Ambrose, St. Patrick and St. Elizabeth schools received a large bag of pasta (each weighing 3.5kg) to take home to their families. At each location, class by class, preschoolers to sixth graders, lined up to receive their bag of pasta from the large blue truck loaded with 1,000 blue plastic bags full of macaroni and rigatoni. These four schools were chosen from the thirty-six St. Luke schools because their communities are at a higher risk for hunger and food insecurity than the other school communities.
Staff at each school found the pasta distribution to be a great time to remind their students of proper etiquette, and “Dis merci!” was heard many a time!