A three-mile walk through the streets of Cambridge, MA, on Saturday, April 2, will help provide food and jobs to hundreds of Haitians by supporting Partners In Health’s agricultural program, Zanmi Agrikol. More specifically, this year’s 8th annual Urban Walk for Haiti will raise money and focus attention on PIH’s efforts to combat pediatric malnutrition in central Haiti.
“PIH’s Zanmi Agrikol project is a critical effort to combat pediatric malnutrition by locally producing and then distributing two therapeutic ‘ready to use’ food supplements called Nourimanba and Nourimil,” say Walk cofounders in a recent press release.
8th annual Urban Walk for Haiti
“It currently costs $150 to nourish a child for 6-8 weeks with special programs using these food supplements to recover a child from severe malnutrition. $3.06 per day to save a child!”
Organized by a group of high school students, community activists, and now in partnership with the Cambridge Mayor’s office and the Councilors of the City, the Walk brings awareness of the desperate situation faced by millions of Haitians forced to live with homelessness, hunger pains, HIV/AIDS, malaria, unsanitary water supplies, and other dire circumstances caused by poverty.
The Walk begins Saturday, April 2, at noon at 29 Mt Auburn St. (St. Paul’s Church) in Cambridge.
“Zanmi Agrikol is rooted firmly in Haitian soil, nourished by local knowledge,” says local schoolteacher and Walk committee member Jen Schongalla. “It is restorative on many levels: from amending the soil and planting the seeds, to weeding, watering, tending, harvesting, processing, packaging…all the way to the child eating the yummy peanut butter that will restore his life.”
“Each of these steps requires an extensive network of people, all of whom are interdependent and play particular roles,” continues Jen. “This fosters vitality in the community in the form of jobs, education, pride in rural life, and a path toward food security. This network depends upon the inherent value and unique talents of each person, so that everyone can work together toward a thriving community.”
The organizers are planning to have a strong presence from the Haitian community at the walk, as well as Haitian food, crafts, dancing, and music—including the all-female Afro-Caribbean music ensemble, ZiliMisik. PIH Medical Director Joia Mukherjee will also speak at the event.
Speaking of last year’s event, McElroy says: “Dr. Mukerjee's speech was energizing and a perfect way to start the Walk. Hearing her once again combine Haiti's history as a country of liberty for all and tying Haiti's lack of economic progress to the strictures set upon Haiti by outsiders, in particular, was inspiring to walkers.”
“Haitians already have hope—they've been hopeful and determined for centuries; we aspire to instill that same sense of hope in those who attend the Walk,” added McElroy.
Since its inception, the Walk has helped equip operating rooms, provide community health education and schooling—including scholarships for over 2,000 students, medicine, reliable shelter, water and food programs, all of which has raised the living standards for thousands of Haitians.
After last year’s devastating earthquake, well over 2,200 people came out on a brisk winter day to show their support for Haiti. Eating Haitian food, listening to live music, and purchasing crafts from the island nation, the Walk raised $71,000—a goal it hopes to match again this year.
Money raised during last year’s Walk allowed 203 high school students to complete classes for the year, with all of the school’s senior students graduating. Funds covered the students’ school fees, uniforms, books, and one meal a day. The donations also significantly augmented local teachers’ salaries.
Over the course of the last seven years, the Walk has raised $283,414.
For more information, please visit walkforhaiti.org.