As far as Haiti’s impoverished are concerned, the Southwestern Ontario Gleaners are one in a million — or, more specifically, 1.1 million.
On Thursday, Sept. 15, Ground Effects owner Jim Scott made a trip from Windsor to pick up a shipment of 340,000 servings of dehydrated vegetable soup mix from the Gleaners’ location on Leamington’s Industrial Road. The delivery will be made later this month in support of the non-profit organization Enable Haiti, founded by Scott. The latest donation, along with supplies from other sources, will support the program’s youth for about four months.
The Gleaners made three previous shipments to the Caribbean nation — a previous delivery for Enable Haiti and others through the Mennonite Central Committee and Thermo Energy Systems Inc. The first three deliveries involved a combined total of 762,000 servings, bringing the Gleaners’ Haitian sum to 1,102,000 servings — more food relief for the country than from any other source in the world.
Scott established the first Enable Haiti orphanage about three-and-a-half months before the country was devastated by a massive earthquake on January 12 of 2010. Since then, the number of children who’ve arrived after their parents died or having being abandoned by their parents has increased steadily. Currently, Scott’s program includes four orphanages around the country — one near Port au Prince, another in Jacmel, a third in Pettionville and the fourth in Croix de Bouquet — which in total feed about 900 children per day.
“I was three about three weeks after the earthquake and fell in love with the cause,” explained Scott, who occasionally brought his daughters to Haiti before his wife disallowed it out of concern for their safety. “Everyone tries to help everyone there. I saw arms and legs hanging out of crushed buildings. That’s what got me into this cause. I can’t stop going. It’s in my blood.”
Along with the Gleaners’ bags of vegetable mix — each of which can provide 100 meals when prepared in hot water — Scott regularly brings clothing, hygiene products, water purification tablets and canned food donations from SunBrite to support children living in Enable Haiti orphanages. About 35 paid workers are dispersed throughout the four locations, where 16- to 18-year-old inhabitants also assist with the program’s operation. Recently, Scott purchased a seven-acre farm that will need a 10- to 12-foot high block wall to protect its contents. Existing farmland supporting the orphanages includes more than 80 fruit trees and coups to host 3,000 chickens.
“It’s not an easy process, but it’s working,” said Scott, who noted that soil conditions are poor in Haiti, known as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
Enable Haiti sites also include bakery equipment to feed the children. Any excess food is sold at market while the facilities also benefit from free medical supplies and treatments offered by hospitals from Orlando to Miami, Fla.
While Scott and Ground Effects employees were at the Gleaners last week to pick up the large-scale shipment, Deanna Owen from Medics4Healing was also on site to accept 40 bags of the same soup mix. Medics4Healing has embarked upon numerous mobile medical missions — one with about $15,000 in medical supplies stored in hockey equipment bags — including a project in 2000 to Africa in support of Owen’s mother’s cousin, a doctor who overseas a missionary there.
“That’s what got me interested in humanitarian work,” Owen explained.
Since then, she made her first trip to Haiti in October of last year. Currently, her group’s plan is to make journeys to Haiti once per year in support of its underprivileged communities. It’s Mission of Hope has existed in Haiti since the 1980s, having established a clinic, orphanage and school.