Big Idea: Reaching out from home

Mission Manna has spent the past decade trying to decrease the high death rate among children under 5 in the Montrouis area on Haiti’s west coast. Thanks to twice-yearly clinics where medical and lay volunteers see some 1,200 kids each trip, and distributing a nutritional mix of beans and grains, more children are reaching the survival-critical fifth birthday.

Last year, we began shifting from handing out food to enabling families to create their own sustainable source of protein by giving them pairs of breeding rabbits and goats for milk and meat.

The Big Idea for 2012 is implementing what has previously been an experimental effort: a health, nutrition and self-sustaining farming program run by local people with funding and technical support from Mission Manna. The idea is to ensure children’s good health before they become malnourished and need medical treatment.

A second idea: Haitians feel they have the knowledge and experience to tackle their own challenges, if they can find the resources needed, rather than relying on outside “experts.” Accordingly, in 2012 Mission Manna will provide resources and expertise to independently contracted Community Health Agents. These community leaders will monitor the health of 70-75 high-risk, malnourished children and provide needed nutritional and medical interventions. They’ll also provide training in animal husbandry and agriculture.

In line with this emphasis on local control and sustainable nutrition, Mission Manna is redesigning a property originally targeted for a children’s medical clinic as an agricultural station modeling best practices for crops and trees — a place where families can obtain rabbits and training in animal husbandry.

Mission Manna aims to enable the people in one small area of a devastated country to build their own self-determined future on a foundation of good health and a full stomach.

For more information, visit http://missionmanna.org, http://www.facebook.com/missionMANNA or Twitter:@MissionMANNA.

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