"This is Life," Leader Says on Visit to Boca Grande Village

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2011) –When Ben Scott walked into Boca Grande Friendship Village in Pierre Payen, Haiti, on Valentine’s Day, he was struck first by the hope and confidence he saw in the eyes and faces of the people who live there.

"They are a community, they have a leader, they are content," he said. "This is life."

Ben Scott, right, shakes the hand of a new Boca Grande Friendship Village homeowner

Scott, chairman of the Boca Grande Hope for Haitians Committee, traveled to Haiti on Feb. 14 to meet the residents, walk through the concrete block two-room homes, watch classes in action, and taste the fresh, clean water that means life and health in the country. More than 200 mothers, fathers, and children have moved from homes made of mud and sticks into 40 sturdy homes in the village.

Building on last year's successful mission to change lives in Haiti, the Boca Grande committee is launching its second phase of the campaign. The committee’s fundraising event will be on Wednesday, March 2, at 6 p.m. at the historic Power House Boca Bay Pass Club. Everyone living on Boca Grande is invited to attend the cocktail reception and learn more about how the village already is changing lives, as well as plans for future growth.

The 25-person committee joined forces months before the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, and their resolve was further strengthened when they learned of the devastating impact the quake had on Haitian families. Since then, the country has faced an outbreak of cholera and a late-season storm that threatened the million-plus people still living in tents.

The Boca Grande Friendship Village consists of:

• 40 double-unit concrete homes with kitchenettes. Each house also includes sanitation, and a 200-gallon plastic water cistern to collect rainwater.
• A water treatment system with the capacity to process clean water for the entire community.
• 500 fruit trees, including mango, avocado and citrus
• Animal husbandry, with one goat for each family
• A community chicken farm
• Community Center
• Solar charging system to provide the community center with electricity
• A five-room vocational school

"Seeing the people in classes gave me the best feeling," Scott said. "There were about 40 men in the plumbing class. I talked to one man who doesn't have a job, he has to walk to get there, and he wants to learn a trade because he is sure that there is a future for him in rebuilding Haiti. I could tell that he felt sure, confident that this is going to come out for the good."

Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma, left, and Ben Scott before the village

Plans for the next phase go directly toward helping people become even more self-reliant. At the March event, the committee will raise money to continue to build out the village with more homes, a school, and a cow farm.

"How appropriate that we traveled to Haiti to visit the Boca Grande Friendship Village on Valentine’s Day," said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. "The Boca Grande community has poured out its heart to the people of Haiti, and what a blessing it was to stand with Ben Scott and see what a difference one idea and a dedicated group of individuals can make."

To watch a short video from the village and hear a thank you from Executive Director Aloma, please visit Food For The Poor on YouTube.

To find out information about the event on March 2, please call Ben Scott at 941-964-9848 or Kathy Leggatt at 1-888-404-4248.

Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Kathy Skipper
Director of Public Relations
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6614