Good news from the field. I arrived in Haiti Wednesday and hit the ground running. As it is when you work here, either a lot happens fast or nothing seems to happen at all. Since last summer the trips have all been of the first type. Fast paced and full of exciting motion as we launched and now seek to grow the IEEE/Sirona Haiti Rural Electricity Program and the Jatropha Program.
Our Jatropha program is scaling quickly. We will plant 100,000 new trees this year moving quickly once the rains start next month. Over 1,000 farmers are signed up to collect seedlings from our nurseries and care for them in their small farms. From its start, Sirona has worked to build sustainable communities. To that end we work with alternative energy and we support those who care for and educate children in our communities. During our first year we raised the money to feed the children at three orphanages 1/4 of the years food. Never wishing to create total reliance we have assisted as we could when donors wish to help children.
Last year we had some farmers who wished to expand their gardens but needed money to allow them to do so. Sirona lent ten farmers $50 each, and rather than seek repayment in cash we asked that the farmers bring $50 worth of food to the local school and the committee in charge of the Jatropha Program would keep track of the fulfillment of the loans. We reduced the administrative burden on our side and we were able to ensure that hundreds of children would receive lunch at school. The first meals were served this past week and there are many, many happy people in the community. It is wonderful when everybody wins.
I spent Thursday and Friday in Grand Goave with our Country Manager, Lexidan Edme. It was a coincidence that I was in the city at the same time the Edmes were, so they brought me out for our meetings that were planned for the weekend. In Haiti you take opportunities when they are in front of you. We discussed deployment of a new IEEE product, the Light Stick, as well as our current status with USAID funding proposals. I had lengthy interviews with our field technicians and have a good understanding of what is happening at each of our six SunBlazer sites. Bottom line: its all still a success.