Helping Haitians Help Haitians

Grangou nan vant pa dous.
Hunger in the stomach isn’t sweet.

The sight of starving children was too much for Madame Samson to bear. In the crowded hillside neighborhood where she lived in the mid-1980s and still does today, Madame Samson was seeing more and more children who were suffering.

In Haiti, more than 70 percent of the population lives under the threshold of absolute poverty – a term basically defined as life without the minimum essentials.

Many children in Port-au-Prince must rely on their wits to find food. Some are in families who have little money. Some are orphans. Since the earthquake, many more children in Port-au-Prince and the rural provinces are living with much less.  Even children and families in areas far from the capital have been devastated by the effects of the earthquake, because they relied on the support of relatives in Port-au-Prince.

"They're starving, and many go all day without eating. They have malnutrition," she said in 1988 when she came to the gate of our nearby mission house. As a neighbor, Outreach to Haiti wanted to help her help the children around her.

With money to buy rice, beans and other basics, Mme. Samson soon began AKSYON POU TIMOUN (ACTION FOR CHILDREN) and cooked cauldrons of food for a group of young children at her small cinderblock house. In the early years of the program, children brought their bowls for mid-day meals three days a week. For some, it was the only food they had.

Madame Samson serves one of the girls at Aksyon Pou Timoun.


As the years passed, the meal program grew. More children came, and more meals were served. Today, while still based at Mme. Samson's home in Petion-Ville, the program has more than 70 children who come in two shifts, five days a week. They receive large servings of mid-day meals and vitamins.

Since the outbreak of cholera in the fall of 2010, a clean water source has been installed, and children have been getting lessons on good hygiene. Before the earthquake, they were also receiving regular medication to protect them against intestinal parasites and disease. 

Mme. Samson’s house was partially destroyed by the earthquake. Her neighborhood was hard hit. Despite the destruction, she remains there. Outreach to Haiti is able to pay for a manager and cook for the meal program.

Also, Dr. Wilkens Gilbert, who is Mme. Samson’s youngest child and former recipient of a Tierney-Tobin scholarship, helps in organizing and managing the meal program. He and his wife, who will become a pediatrician when she completes medical school, have an apartment at their mother’s house. They hope to open a medical clinic for the poor in the neighborhood.

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