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A picture says a 1000 words..., Culture, Latin America and the Caribbean, Projects, Travel, Videos

Buying Food supplies from wholesalers, Haiti

Feeding the children that turn up at the Sathya Sai Centre each day for their lunch has been an overwhelmingly positive experience… Visiting the children at the various camps the Sathya Sai World Foundation sponsors food to be distributed to, has been an eye opener to their reality.

But how the food gets replenished into the storage room is something I hadn’t really considered… Until Shanti said to me after breakfast; “Kali, get ready… We’re going downtown.”

I was excited to venture into the chaos of down town on an errand with Shanti Paudel– Sai Baba centre coordinator, to buy enough food supplies to feed 2000 children each day for a month. There is a lot of pleasure in feeding the children, however I wanted to get the full experience, and that includes knowing where the food is coming from… Because it doesn’t just land on the kitchen table!

On our checklist included:

50x 25kg sacks of rice, 50x 25kg sacks of maize, 100 packets of spaghetti… And that’s just the dry foods for the storage cupboard!

On average each meal costs just $0.18 cents per child, per day. A small price to pay to stop a child from going hungry. However like any NGO, a lot of work goes into accounts in order to keep the program sustainable.

$0.18 cents per child... A small price to pay for these children to get a nutricious meal each day

Each meal costs approx $0.18 cents per child… A small price to pay for these children to get a nutricious meal each day

The visit to the wholesalers warehouse is a chore that has to be done once a month when food supplies start running low. It’s not for the faint hearted to venture into the outskirts of Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s notorious neighbourhoods in search of wholesale prices to keep costs low. However despite his Nepalese origin, Paudel is no ‘blanc’ (white person/foreigner). He is able to win the respect of Haitian people wherever he goes. This also includes getting the best prices when buying food in bulk… Paudel is very much Haitian!

Shanti Paudel at the wholesalers. Able to communicate as the locals do in Kryol. A key factor to keeping the costs down

Shanti Paudel at the wholesalers. Able to communicate as the locals do in Kreyol. A key factor to keeping the costs down

Paudel offers a helping hand!

Paudel offers a helping hand

Surrounded by rice packeted and imported in the USA...

Surrounded by rice imported from the USA…

The coordinators of the centre, Carlos Suarez and Shanti Paudel, take careful measures to keep costs low, while the quality of meals produced remain high. In the last year and a half costs have been drastically reduced by more than 60%. This benefits both sponsor and children, as it means the food program can run for longer periods, without leaving a whole in the pockets of sponsors worldwide. imageThe whole sellers warehouse is open from 7am each morning. They supply food to all parts of Haiti. Market woman were there in their numbers. They may not wear the suits of western society, but they are very much the business women that contribute to keep the economy running.

Haitian buisness woman orders her wholesale produce. The quote by Gandhi written on her t-shirt catches my eye

Haitian buisness woman orders her wholesale produce. The quote by Gandhi written on her t-shirt catches my eye

Helping to lift one of the sacks... Anything the men can do, I can do too right?...

Helping to lift one of the sacks… Anything the men can do, I can do too right?…

It was an eye-opener to see the working conditions of the workers. Manual labour in every sense. Upon seeing the men carry up to five 25kg sacks on their head and shoulders (that’s like carrying five of my suitcases of their heads!), I asked why they don’t use trollies. My answer was coated with an amused laugh and a simple response; “there isn’t enough space for a trolly.” True enough, the allies created between the stacks of rice mounted high, are narrow. Just leaving enough room for the workers to maneuver through.

A Haitian worker carries sacks of rice on his back..

A Haitian worker carries sacks of rice on his back..

Hardly enough space to squeeze past

Hardly enough space to squeeze past

I spoke to one of the workers who was loading onto the truck. The 53 year old was beaming with sweat. When I admired his hard work, he explained in Kreyol that he is the father of three children and it’s his sole responsibility to provide for them…

image

The 53yr old worker flashes a smile… He makes his work seem so easy

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Some of the produce named after the island…

Even if that means working a potential back-breaking job, and risking his life by standing on the seal of the truck to prevent theft, while the food is delivered to the Sathya Sai centre.

On the edge on the truck... ANd the egde of City Solei... One of Port-au-Prince's nototious neighborhoods. The worker gives direction for a car to stop and give way

On the edge on the truck… And the edge of Cité Soleil… One of Port-au-Prince’s notorious neighborhoods. The worker gives direction for a car to stop and give way

Risking his life, so that the truck won't be a target for gangs to steal the products worth over $5,000

Risking his life, so that the truck won’t be a target for gangs to steal the products worth over $5,000

I couldn’t help but admire him. And his story is duplicate to a thousand others. On first glimpse, the environment seems chaotic. However standing to one side as I took initiative to do, I noticed it was a system that worked. Whether it works in the right way, is another question. I hope in the future to return with a film crew and document the environment of the workers of these huge warehouses. The link between the outside world the food comes from and distribution to the whole country.

Arriving home: At the centre safe and sound. The truck with goods follows behind

Arriving home: At the centre safe and sound. The truck with goods follows behind

Tibayo helps organise the store room

Tibayo helps organise the store room

Overall, a very productive and insightful day at the wholesalers!

A picture with one of the security men

A picture with one of the security men

About @makingkai

Life is a bit more colourful since I discovered blogging! thanks for following my journey! #MySohoTimes #LetsDoLunch #TravelMakingKai #TheEFedStudent

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Buying Food supplies from wholesalers, Haiti

  1. great kali thumps up

    Posted by shan poudel | August 30, 2013, 11:46 pm

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  1. Pingback: Create and Fundraise for Haiti! | UALACS '14 - September 19, 2014

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