Hens for Haiti was formed by a group of volunteers passionate about sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and job creation in rural Haiti. The group is comprised of individuals from different backgrounds who each add a unique aspect to the organization.
The focus of the organization is poultry, specifically laying hens and eggs, but members also recognize that other agricultural and cultural factors play a role in the success of the industry. Hens for Haiti offers technical expertise and insight into the Haitian poultry sector. Through much trial and error over the years, the organization has faced challenges and turned them into positive learning tools. Hens for Haiti hopes to share this knowledge with other groups looking to embark on similar agricultural endeavors. The organization also strives to support projects financially through annual matching grants.
First stepping foot in Haiti on September 3, 2007, Christie had no idea how the experience would end up shaping her personal & professional life. After being fetched from the airport to begin her year-long volunteer commitment with the Quest program, Christie was immediately taken to a hen house established by Food for the Poor on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Knowing Christie’s background in animal agriculture, Sr. Pat Dillon turned to her and asked, "Can you duplicate this in Gros-Morne?" Without knowing the culture, language, or atmosphere, Christie promised that she would do her best.
In an effort to fulfill this promise, Christie spent the following months researching the egg market in Haiti, estimating the funds needed, and writing a business proposal for the Gros-Morne Poulaye (Haitian Creole for “hen house”). The community of Gros-Morne was very supportive of this initiative, going as far as donating a piece of land outside the main town to be used for the hen facility.
Returning to the United States in 2008 to begin her graduate degree, Christie spread the word about the project, and with the help of a university friend, Cameron Varano, created a student organization at Virginia Tech to help fundraise and promote the initiative. Hens for Haiti at Virginia Tech participated in local and national events including the Clinton Global Initiative University where the group was honored with an Outstanding Commitment Award in 2010. After several years of fundraising, grant-writing, and partnership building, Hens for Haiti finally reached the $60,000 goal to establish a hen house in Gros-Morne.
Hens for Haiti continues to be involved with the Poulaye through reports and feedback from the community. The team hopes to spread the word about the efforts of this project, and facilitate duplicating similar projects in other parts of Haiti.